Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 57- A response

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for your response to my letter. In it, you declare that "the Israeli-Palestinian conflict demands our immediate and continued attention." I appreciate this, sir, and while I have no doubt that the issue receives your continued, even constant attention, I feel that you do not often reflect this in your public statements. Every time I have heard you speak publicly about Israel and Palestine, you have spoken with the same platitudes you include in this letter. This is not normally your style, which is why it bothers me so much. You've often been willing to engage in sustained conversations about your positions on issues, explaining your reasoning and exploring the nuances and complexities. I've seen you discuss health care, immigration, abortion, gay rights, the economy- I've seen you engage with your political opponents and dare them to leave behind the talking points to have a real conversation. I have never see you do this for Palestine and Israel.

Your letter suggests I visit the White house site to read more on your administration's approach to what you call a "critical issue". The section of the site that deals with Palestine says;

The President believes that we cannot afford to wait to work for peace in the region, so he appointed a Special Envoy for Middle East peace on his second day in office. In the Middle East, we share the goal of a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors. The United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security. The President has committed himself and his Administration to actively pursuing this goal.

This is lovely, but in no way informative or illuminating. It does not explain, for example, how you can be in support of Democracy but not the democratically elected leaders of Palestine. It does not explain how you can oppose the needless suffering of civilians and remain silent about the blockade of Gaza. It does not explain how you can defy the wishes of China with regards to human rights in Taiwan and Tibet, while never daring to challenge Israel with regards to its expansion of illegal settlements, or its secret assassinations, its mass arrests of peaceful protesters, or the continuing barrage of bombs being dropped on the Gaza strip. If this issue is really so critical to the regional stability and to America's long-term security, as you acknowledge in your letter, than why are you not publicly addressing it, publicly condemning Israel's inhuman and reckless behavior, publicly assuring the Palestinian people that we don't want to see their state won't be eaten up by illegal settlements, isolated by a wall, and deprived of all its natural resources?

I appreciate your response, Mr. President, and I want to emphasize that I am happy to accept you having a different perspective on this issue than I do. I just wish you'd explain your position, engage in a real discussion of the complexities of the issue, and not just hide behind the same polished platitudes. Now, in a period of relative calm, is the time to be talking about this issue. Now is the time for real progress, and the same old speeches will simply not suffice any longer.

Respectfully yours,


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