December 28, 2008

Stop Israel's Attacks Against Palestinians

Letter to my Senators and Representative, President-elect Obama and the US State Department in response to Israel's attacks on Gaza.

The US claims to favor a just settlement of the conflict between Palestinians and Israel. However, continuation of billions of dollars of uncritical US aid to Israel is counter-productive. Israel has repeatedly used our aid to launch attacks on Palestinians. The most generous interpretation of their actions is that they have a reckless disregard for civilian casualties. Hundreds have been killed by the bombing of Gaza, but perhaps worse is the effects of the blockade on the people who live there. I do not condone Hamas attacks but Israel's attacks are disproportionate to the provocation. Attacks on civilians are a violation of International Law and US law.

Hamas attacks are a response to the continued illegal occupation of their land and the daily violence the Palestinians experience.

Israel will never see peace unless they are willing to end the occupation, and allow the formation of a Palestinian state with a territory that is not broken up by Israeli settlements. The first step to peace has to be a real and immediate end to settlements and to the so called "security wall", which puts land and water supplies in the West Bank on the Israeli side. Many Israelis agree that their own security is not served by their government's militaristic policy.

I trust that the US will use the leverage we have with our substantial aid to help end the violence by persuading Israel to negotiate a just and lasting settlement.


US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

United for Peace and Justice Palestine/Israel Just Peace Campaign

December 06, 2008

Re: Your plan for Iraq

Message sent to the Obama Transition at 12/6/08

Re: Your plan for Iraq

I would like to see our troops withdrawn from the streets immediately and brought home.

I am concerned that your plan to withdraw troops from Iraq doesn't go far enough. As you know, the presence of US troops is an obstacle to peace. The US lacks any clear mission and is basically one of many militias operating in Iraq. Insurgents will continue to receive support from Iraqis who, quite naturally, object to the foreign soldiers conducting missions, breaking down doors, taking prisoners and dropping bombs, with many innocent victims. Our presence is used to justify the violence that other militias use. We get the blame for that, as well.

Your idea of a residual force is a bad idea because it provides for continued US operations there and therefore will not ease the worries of Iraqis who overwhelming want the foreign troops out. Continuing operations will lead to continuing “collateral damage”, which will only weaken the ability of Iraqis to find reconciliation. You will find yourself in the position later on of being pressured to expand that force and we will be right back where we are now.

Likewise I object to your expansion of military action in Afghanistan. Now is a great time to expand diplomatic efforts instead. People around the world are looking to you to change the way that the US relates to the rest of the world. Elements of the Taliban are ready for negotiations. Lets encourage that trend and be ready to withdraw our troops and increase our reconstruction aid, using local contractors and international organizations to show that our goal is not domination but peace. This will undermine the hardliners.

We have to understand that the US cannot control the people of other countries. If they are not friendly to our government or corporations, I can't say I blame them. We need to earn their trust and we need to trust them. You talk a lot about diplomacy. It is crucial. I hope you don't forget it.