June 28, 2011

Israel Attacks Non-violent activists

Dear Secretary of State Clinton,

On January 28, 2011 you issued a strong statement to the Egyptian government urging it not to attack peaceful demonstrators, "We are deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protesters and we call on the Egyptian government to do everything in its power to restrain the security forces." (full text) I wrote you then thanking you for that statement. Today I am asking you to apply that same standard to Israel.

As you know, the Israeli government has threatened to violently attack the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, including the US Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope. As you also are very well aware, these are people committed to non-violent activism to aid Palestinians, especially in Gaza, to achieve basic human rights in the face of a punitive blockade. Israel's threats are credible because they have attacked previous boats, resulting in many unnecessary injuries and the deaths of nine people last year. Israel routinely violently attacks Palestinians engaged in non-violent protests with high velocity tear gas canisters, rubber coated bullets, clubs and live ammunition. Don't Palestinian democracy demonstrations deserve the same support as Egyptians or Libyans? Don't Americas traveling abroad deserve to be safe from unwarranted attack?

Just as the Egyptian, Libyan and Syrian governments spread lies about democracy demonstrators in order to justify attacking them, Israel is spreading lies
about the flotilla. The flotilla carries no weapons and will not attack the Israeli soldiers who may well attack them. They are, I'll say it again, committed to non-violence. They are by no stretch of the imagination supporting terrorism. On the contrary, they and the many thousands of non-violent activists in Palestine are providing an alternative to violent resistance to the continued denial of basic human rights. They hope that non-violent means are more effective in convincing the world of the need for a just and equitable peace agreement. I hope that they are right. If Israel will respond there is now some hope for peace and justice.

Israel only undercuts it's own position and casts doubt on its desire for peace with the lies and unnecessary violence they have resorted to. The US should support peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. We should call upon Israel to respect human rights
, just as we call on Egypt, Libya, Syria and other governments to do the same.

cc: President Obama
Rep Norm Dicks
Senator Patty Murray
Senator Maria Cantwell