A letter to US Reps. Jim McGovern and Richard Neal

MY TURN

Greenfield Recorder, June 2, 2021

By HIND MARI, ABED JARADAT, KAREN PFEIFFER, CLAUDIA LEFKO, SHERRILL HOGEN, CLARE OVERLANDER and SUZANNE CARLSON

The resurgent violence in Israel/ Palestine has created a humanitarian crisis that breaks our hearts and demands the attention of the U.S. government, as U.S. tax dollars — your constituents’ tax dollars, our tax dollars — fund the military aid that’s killing Palestinians, destroying their homes and other critical, life-sustaining infrastructure in Gaza. Israel is not “protecting itself ”; it’s an occupying force protecting its domination. It cannot, under international law, dominate Palestinians and then use the claim of self-defense in order to protect that domination. We know there have been deaths in Israel. We’re saddened by all loss of life, Israeli and Palestinian, but one must recognize the disproportionality: approximately 20 Palestinians to each Israeli.

We’re asking you to support the positions stated in the letter already signed by more than 20 of your fellow Congresspeople and sent to Secretary Blinken urging him to condemn the forced removal of the Sheik Jarrah residents. We are also requesting that you support the resolution seeking to stop the $735 million in arms sales to Israel and H.R. 2590.

The problems in Israel/Palestine are longstanding and rooted in Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories since 1948, an occupation that many international human rights organizations and governments define as an apartheid regime that denies all Palestinians their most basic human rights. Numerous UN resolutions, over many years, have sought to right this situation and create the possibility of peaceful coexistence between Israeli Jews

and Palestinians. These resolutions have consistently been vetoed by the United States, so that the untenable situation has continued decade after decade, creating misery on all sides, but most especially creating misery for Palestinians.

This latest crisis, with new leadership in Washington, gives us an opportunity to revisit our relationship to the Israeli government The Biden administration must leverage our moral authority and our financial support for Israel, insisting our taxpayer dollars not be used to wage war on Palestinians. H.R. 2590, stipulates that American military aid must not be used by Israel to displace Palestinian men, women and children, to continue Jewish settlement expansion and to support the military detention of Palestinian children. Passing this bill is a critical first-step to becoming honest partners for peace in Israel/ Palestine.

We know you both to be people of conscience. The current horrors in Israel/Palestine call for people of conscience to act to end the bloodshed and ultimately the occupation. The ceasefire, if it holds, will not address the injustice that is inherent in an occupation. We call upon you to show your support for the letter to Secretary Blinken, for the resolution to withhold the $735 million in military aid to Israel and for H.R. 2590.

Hind Mari and Abed Jaradat are Amherst residents. Karen Pfeiffer, Claudia Lefko, Sherrill Hogen, Clare Overlander and Suzanne Carlson are Middle East Peace and Justice Coalition members.