My comment regarding the Israeli – Palestinian Conflict sent to President-elect Obama’s website.
I grew up during the Second World War and I remember the warm feeling I had when Israel was formed in 1948, and how at Hunter College I empathized with Jewish students celebrating the 5th Anniversary of the founding of Israel. I believe many have not had reason/opportunity to do so, but for some reason I did later come to know what the founding of the State of Israel caused the Arab Palestinians: The Holocaust was carried out in Europe; subsequently Arab Palestinians lost a significant part of their homeland, where they and Mizrahi and other Jews had lived — lived not without conflict but without widespread displacements.
Never have I heard of any acknowledgement to the Palestinians of their justifiable distress and anger for their having had to move to make possible the establishment of Israel; nor have I ever heard an apology — obviously not that these would resolve the issue but the missing acknowledgement and apology are indicative of lack of understanding or lack of awareness of cause and effect. A result is that Palestinians have been viewed by many as spoilers, not as people with a grievance that required redress In effect, they were required to make compensation for criminal acts (The Holocaust) in which they had no part.
What has happened and is happening to the Palestinians in occupied Gaza is so horrid — for me beyond words to express. And, as is known, we, the United States, provide the wherewithal for the carrying on of this campaign against Gaza.
There have been blockades – land, sea, and air – imposed by Israel. Isn’t this an act of war? Some of the results of the blockades have been life threatening. And so Gaza sends rockets; Israel responds with sophisticated ‘state of the art’ power/technology. The residents of Gaza are told to remove themselves from areas of hostilities — where are they to go? They do not have bomb shelters. They are totally vulnerable. And we, the U.S., have rationalized our non-support for a cease-fire!
United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 virtually has been ignored. Settlements are developed and expanded in the occupied West Bank with U.S. approval — implicit and explicit (President Bush’s allowing, in a televised talk with the former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, that some settlements were ‘facts on the ground’). The Palestinians were expected to accept, as part of a plan for a Palestinian state, a system of West Bank ‘Bantustans’ proposed by then Prime Minister Ehud Barak and rejected by the then President of the Palestine National Authority Yasser Arafat, toward the end of President Clinton’s second term. Many were incredulous that the plan was rejected.
President-elect Obama, many do not know the post-Second World War history of this part of the Middle East. You do. Please, your incoming Administration, your Office as honest broker, should acknowledge publicly that the Palestinians, as well as the Israelis, have justifiable claims, and should insist that inhumane action against the Palestinians by the occupying power end, that Israeli/Palestinian cease-fires become effective forthwith, and that concrete steps be taken for the creation and necessary support of a viable sovereign Palestinian state.
President-elect Obama, our taxes must not support unacceptable policies and action. This does not lessen the view of Israel as a U.S. ally. In addition, the Palestinians should receive acknowledgement of the loss of part of their pre-1948 homeland. These will not be unreasonable actions to undertake but to do so will require the will of your Administration to promote these actions as (and here I borrow, out of context, from a statement of Archbishop Tutu) possible, desirable, and necessary.
These days this matter has, I know, been of great concern to all of us, and I know we have various views. I think it is generally believed that the lack of a fair resolution of the Israel/Palestine conflict is not the only factor but is a significant one in U.S./Middle East antagonisms.
– Barbara Walker
Granny Peace Brigade