Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 31

It's been one month. Tonight, as I have several times this week, I've canceled plans in order to write my letter. I should probably just get better at time management. It's disheartening to have no response to anything I've written, yet, but I'm hoping that including my e-mail address will facilitate this. Anyway, on to today:

Dear Mr. President,

I took a break from reading The Audacity of Hope to finish Joe Sacco's Footnotes in Gaza. I don't imagine you have much time for reading, but if you do have an opportunity, it is an important book.

One of the things Sacco mentions is "story fatigue" with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. This is something I relate to, as I commonly encounter it in friends and strangers; their tendency to sigh, or to stop listening when I talk about Palestine. I find this more exasperating than the ideologues who simply disagree with me. At least they care enough to have an opinion, are aware enough not to feel themselves victimized by the news of another tragedy. It is such a luxury, to be tired of hearing about the conflict. I try not to imagine how it compares to the unending fatigue of living this conflict for decades, because that just makes me angry. With every day that passes, with every story lost in the cacophony of similar-sounding stories, with every canned, talking-point answer, my frustration grows.

The reprehensible treatment of human life in Gaza is unacceptable. Every dollar we give to Israel, every day spent spouting our unending and unconditional support ties the United States more closely to these crimes. And still, you say nothing. Still, you do nothing. Yes, Mr. President, you have an incredibly difficult domestic agenda that must be negotiated and implemented. People in this country are losing jobs, losing health care, losing their livelihood and you're working day and night to turn this around. I understand this. But you're our representative to the world in many ways, and your silence on the complete lack of progress or improvement on the situation in the Middle East is disappointing.

I know we disagree on this issue, Mr. President, but, unlike the GOP leadership, I don't get a debate on it. I'd like you to publicly defend our official position and its consequences; the housing demolitions, the blockade, the random arrests, the collective punishment of innocents, all in the face of criticism from the UN, ICRC and other international organizations. Explain to me, to the rest of the country, and to Palestine why questioning these acts is tantamount to "demonizing" Israel. Explain to me why America supports Democracy everywhere except the Gaza strip. I don't question your right to disagree, Mr. President, but I do wonder if your convictions on this are strong enough to defend the grim reality, and not just to cover up these crimes with the same old platitudes.

Respectfully yours,



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