PeaceSmiths reflections on the situation in Gaza

January 7, 2009 at 10:12 pm Leave a comment

PeaceSmiths, Inc. is a community of peace and justice activists in Long Island, New York. PeaceSmiths shares the sentiments of the letter below, published by the American Friends Service Committee:

Open letter on violence in Gaza
December 31, 2008

Dear President Bush and President-Elect Obama,

As an organization with 60 years of experience working in the Gaza Strip and
committed to a peaceful future between Palestinians and Israelis, we are
saddened and distressed at the spiraling violence in Gaza over the past five
days. As a Quaker organization that cares deeply about the life, dignity,
and security of all people, we ask you to take immediate action to end this
spiral of violence.

We urge you to take all steps necessary to end the Israeli attacks against
Gaza, which have as of this writing taken more than 370 lives, injured
thousands, and destroyed many homes and properties. The military strike is
in addition to a two year-old siege imposed by the Israeli government, and
supported by the U.S. government, that has severely restricted the
importation of food, medicine, fuel and other essential goods necessary to
maintain the well-being of more than 1.4 million people in the Gaza Strip.

The disproportionate Israeli siege and military assault continue a policy of
collective punishment. The time has long-passed to end this policy.

At the same time, we recognize that Hamas’s decision to launch rocket
attacks into Israel has threatened the safety of Israeli civilians and
incurred tragic consequences for the people of Gaza.

So the cycle of violence deepens. Even today, Hamas threatens to increase
the number of rockets fired into Israel in retaliation for the Israeli siege
and air strikes. Israel justifies the siege and the attacks because of the
rocket attacks. It’s an untenable situation that need not continue.

Violence must be replaced with negotiations. Both the air strikes and the
embargo should end immediately. Israel should engage in diplomacy with the
Palestinians, including Hamas as elected leaders of the Palestinian
legislature. And every effort should be made through the good offices of the
Arab states to urge Hamas to re-establish the cease fire and put forth a
good-faith effort to end the current violence.

Given its tremendous regional influence, the United States can move the
parties toward a peaceful resolution. The U.S. supports Israel militarily,
financially, and politically. You have the power to end weapon sales to
Israel; weapons that are often used against civilians. We urge that you also
stop supporting the embargo on Gaza.

The U.S. government has supported an Israeli militarist strategy that has
not, and will not, lead to a lasting peace. Only a solution based in
fairness, respect, and security for both Palestinians and Israelis will
offer the peace that all so desperately seek and deserve. Only creative
dialogue and negotiation, not military force, can lay the path to that
solution.

We urge you to use your power and influence well so that U.S. policy can
move further along the path to peace. We hope that this New Year is a more
peaceful one, in the Middle East, the U.S., and throughout the world.

Sincerely,

Mary Ellen McNish
General Secretary,
American Friends Service Committee

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Entry filed under: International Politics, Long Island, Peace.

Experimental Forum: A How-To Event Sun. Jan 18th: SCPG Annual Peace Party

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