Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 24

Dear Mr. President,

It's nice to have a cartoonishly evil face for our enemy. Pretty much any time I've managed to lose myself in the complexity of our conflicts, Bin Laden issues another message to remind me that we're actually living in a comic book. I thought his latest warning, that attacks in America would continue as long as we support Israel's occupation, was particularly interesting. Since Al-qaeda has little or no presence in Palestine, I feel like Bin Laden has gotten a bit desperate. America, under your administration, is much more difficult to hate than under President Bush. It has to be difficult to recruit these days. Tying our country to the Israeli occupation- their own cartoonishly evil Super Villain- is probably the best way to keep morale up.

I'm not suggesting that we alter US foreign policy because of Bin Laden. I just want to be clear on that, right away. But if you consider the conditions in Gaza, the abject suffering, the isolation, the inability even to rebuild after tragedy, if you consider all of it and how long the people of Gaza have suffered, it is difficult to see a clear course of action. Some people are going to get angry. Some are going to write letters. Some are going to protest. Others are going to get violent. I'm not excusing that course, but what option have we given them? Years of protest and struggle got them nothing. Democratic elections got them an even worse situation. A ceasefire accomplished nothing. This stalemate has become unacceptable. And the plight of the Palestinians is such that it will always rouse sympathy and anger from those that identify with them- either as fellow Muslims, fellow Arabs, or fellow human beings.

"America will never dream of living in peace unless we live it in Palestine. It is unfair that you enjoy a safe life while our brothers in Gaza suffer greatly." Radical words. Even to me, an ardent supporter of the Palestinians, they ring incredibly hollow. Bin Laden may not be suffering alongside the Gazans, he certainly is not serving their interest with his tactics, but yet he feels he can invoke "we". He may be a truly abhorrent individual, but he isn't stupid. Bin Laden knows this issue is powerful, emotional and divisive.

I don't expect you to pay much attention to the words of such a person. He is a petty criminal, his words rendered meaningless by his manipulation and his hypocrisy. A much wiser man once had some truly radical sentiments; "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” You can disarm Bin Laden, sir, you can move the peace process forward, you can renew America's neutrality by ending our unconditional and unreasonable support for Israel's illegal activity, you can give the people of Gaza hope. And then, when they finally have a state of their own, when they finally have regular access to food and water and resources to build their economy, people will remember that as something America and not our enemies, helped them to achieve. This time, on this issue, we're on the wrong side. It may be years or it may be centuries, but history will judge us, judge you, for these crimes.

Respectfully yours,


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