The Bush and prior US administrations blatant partiality towards Israel has contributed to the escalating tensions between Israel and the Palestinians. Our government continues to ignore gross human rights violations by Israel while never losing an opportunity to criticize the democratically elected government of the Palestinians. There has always been a deafening silence in Washington following Israel's unrelenting land theft, home demolitions, wholesale destructions of olive trees, targeted assassination (a war crime), arbitrary arrests, brutal torture of detainees and absence of due process. There has been a disproportionate number of Palestinians killed by Israeli shelling. Israel launched approximately 8,000 shells compared to about 400 launched militant Palestinians in the same period.
I ask my fellow Americans to consider how you would respond if someone forcibly expelled you from your homes into ghettoes, restricted your movements and then demanded that you grant them the 'right to exist' in your homes.
It is appalling that Israeli launched a large scale military invasion of the Gaza Strip just hours after the Fatah and Hamas agreed to recognize Israel within its 1967 borders.
Israel opened the attack with a series of air strikes on three bridges and Gaza's main power station. The attack left the power station in flames and knocked out electricity in most of Gaza City. The wholesale destruction of the basic infrastructure is in complete violation of the Geneva Convention which forbids collective punishment of a population. This action is a war crime and must be condemned by the international community. The United Nations has warned of a major human catastrophe in Gaza unless the international community, more especially, the United States can call an immediate halt to Israel's state sponsored terrorism. There is little doubt that the Palestinians most vulnerable population, women and children will starve to death unless we can raise the consciousness of the world and demand that Israel call an immediate halt to its relentless attacks on the Palestinians.
It is sad that the world has expressed anger over the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, but remains silent over the hundreds of Palestinian children held in Israel's dungeons, not to mention 10,000 adult prisoners, thousands held without charge and trial, abducted from their homes in the middle of the night by Israeli occupation forces.
The long troubled history of Israel has always taken a colonial dimension, driving out the original occupants (the Palestinians) and annexing their land and homes with brute force aided and abetted by massive military and financial aid from the U.S. This is the root cause of the conflict and must be addressed by our government and more importantly the American people, if true peace is to prevail. A very close parallel exists between the apartheid policies of South Africa and Israel where a minority colonial power imposes its will on a majority population and annexed its land and drove its occupants into small ghettoes. Israel practices a blatant, overt type of racism. For example, Israeli citizens can marry anybody in the world, except Palestinians. If an Israeli defies the law and marries a Palestinian he has to leave the country or seek an annulment.
Finally, I have included an urgent appeal from 'Jewish Voice For Peace':
As the news from Gaza grows worse by the hour, we urge you to take action now to help bring international pressure to bear to stop the situation. While we all hope for the safe return of Corporal Gilad Shalit, his kidnapping can never justify Israel's massive destruction of Gaza's civilian infrastructure.
1. Get the facts and spread the word
Register for a special 1-hour briefing with JVP's Director of Education and Policy, Mitchell Plitnick, on Sunday, July 9 at 1 pm PST, 4 pm EST. Space is limited, so make your reservation now.
2. Write a letter to the editor
People in and around your home town need to hear from you. Israel has been demolishing the civilian infrastructure in Gaza. Targeting power plants and bridges cannot be construed as targeting combatants. Your neighbors are probably as appalled by this as you are, and they need to see your words in print so they know they are in step with their own community
3. Write to the U.S. Congress
Tell Your Congressional representatives and the President that America cannot continue to stand idly by while the situation in Israel-Palestine continues to deteriorate. Demand that our leaders press for the release of Palestinian political prisoners as well as Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Tell them that we insist that diplomacy and negotiations, not violence, be employed to resolve these issues. Demand that Israel stop its invasion and shelling of Gaza and that Palestinians stop firing their largely ineffective rockets at Israeli towns.