Dear Mr. President,
While it is gratifying to see that Vice-President Biden has condemned the announcement of new settlements in East Jerusalem, it would be nice if this condemnation carried with it any tangible consequence. If even some of the estimated $2.5 billion dollars we give to this already wealthy and economically stable country were contingent upon respect for human rights or international law.
I've written you many times about my views on the way Palestinians are treated by their occupiers. I may be just an ordinary citizen, my experiences admittedly limited to a single trip to the region, but I am not the only American who feels this way. It is so easy to maintain the close relationship we have bought and paid for. Is is easy to talk about mediation and negotiation and fairness while signing the checks that buy the instruments of oppression. It is so easy to condemn policies while we continue to fund them. But you didn't run for President to do what is easy. You did not come to perpetuate the status quo. You ran on a platform of change, you demonstrated your willingness to speak frankly about tough issues and to explore, thoughtfully, their nuances. Why have you abandoned these principles entirely in Palestine? Why is a verbal and practically inconsequential reprimand from the VP all that comes from this latest encroachment on Palestinian land? Why are we silent on so many other, even more grievous offenses?
Don't send me another form letter about this, Mr. President. I'll forgo the talking points. I want you to say something, anything, that helps me make sense of it. Tell me why Palestinians don't deserve basic rights, free movement, and freedom from oppression. Tell me why a person's religion should determine where they are allowed to live. Tell me why we're funding this occupation at an increasing rate each year, why criticism and questioning are equated with sedition and betrayal. Tell me when we decided that a Palestinian life was worth less than an Israeli one.
If you can tell me these things, Mr. President, I'd love to hear from you. Otherwise, please save the paper. Vice President Biden earned my respect today for speaking frankly to the Palestinian audience alongside Abbas, but words are so cheap in such situations. 1600 new settlements will be built in East Jerusalem; another piece of the future Palestinian state lost because Israel is already powerful enough to take whatever it wants. How many words do you think Vice President Biden's condemnation would have to contain to rival the financial, political and military support that come with it? Maybe 2.5 billion?