Dear Mr. President,
Apartheid, like genocide, is not a word to be thrown around. It is too powerful, its history too bloody, to use lightly. It has been invoked quite a bit this week, be it because it's been banned or because the situation in Gaza has drawn the condemnation of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, or because Barney Frank's unintentional irony has just gotten downright embarrassing. When President Carter used the word, he was accused of anti-semitism. I'm sure that, were you to use it, you'd be called the same, probably even worse. "Unsustainable" seems to be as provocative as the White House is willing to get.
Unsustainable. This clean, ambiguous term seems to imply that the problem isn't that Israel is abusing its power, depriving people of their rights, and subjugating millions of people based on their religion or ethnicity, but that the system isn't practical. It's not a moral objection, but a pragmatic one. I agree with the White House that the situation is unsustainable. I also agree that it's apartheid. One cannot see the divided roads in Hebron, or the stark loom of the wall and not be moved by the injustice of it all. I'm glad that you met with Mr. Abbas today, and I think the aid package is, at least, a tangible demonstration of good faith, though I think that ending our military aid to Israel would be a better use of our money, and, in the long run, more helpful to the Palestinian people. I suppose, at the end of the day, I don't care what you call the injustices of the world, so long as you act to end them. I want to believe that we are taking steps in the right direction, and that progress, even slowly made, is more important than the words you use to describe the situation.