Favorite

A letter to the president 

Dear President Obama,

I'm an Israeli peace activist and I really need your help.  I've been working for over 20 years to make my country — Israel — a safe place for my children, and now is the first time I think I really have a chance to get there.  Because you're in the White House.

I know we're on the same page: Divide the land (more or less on the 1948 border) so that we end up with two sovereign states — Israel and Palestine — where both can live in peace and security. Divide Jerusalem so that Arab neighborhoods become the Palestinian capital and Jewish neighborhoods remain the Israeli capital — and ensure access to the holy sites for people of all religions. And apply the obvious and practical solutions to the other outstanding issues — water (a rational and equitable distribution), refugees (resettlement and reparations), and arms (control and security for both sides).

I'm not the only one in the Middle East who thinks this way: For a decade, polls have consistently shown that a majority of Israelis support a two-state solution as part of an overall peace agreement. So do public opinion polls of Palestinians. And most would go along with any arrangements that could be worked out between the sides because, well, we've all lost enough loved ones to the conflict.

One of the key problems seems to be that most politicians have given in to the demands of the extremist Israeli settlers in the Occupied Territories — people who prefer to live by the sword on someone else's land than forge a compromise that both sides can live with.

So many U.S. presidents — following the lead of Israeli prime ministers — turned a blind eye to the expansion of these colonies, expansion that led to deeper entrenchment of the occupation and greater Palestinian bitterness and rage. What a recipe for bloodshed! One cup occupation plus one cup violent resistance — and the bloodshed will go on for generations, as it has. 

It was a relief, Mr. President, to hear your clear statements in Cairo: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements …It is time for these settlements to stop.”

And then Prime Minister Netanyahu affirmed his own acceptance of a two-state solution, meaning that the Israeli settlers would ultimately have to return to Israel, making room for the sovereign state of Palestine. What else could “a two-state solution” mean?

But somehow the need to “freeze” settlement construction — which Israel promised to do in previous agreements and our prime minister has been trying to sell to his coalition partners — has now “thawed,” as our government approved the construction of 455 more homes in the Occupied Territories. What is it about “It is time for these settlements to stop” that Netanyahu did not understand?

Therefore, Mr. President, I came to visit Little Rock to talk with some of the citizens there and, through them, to appeal to you to use your good offices to be a true friend to Israel by telling Netanyahu the truth: Occupation is not compatible with peace. Settlements are not compatible with a two-state solution.

The United States has the power to get it done: Your military aid — some $4 billion dollars a year — gives you the right and obligation to demand that Israel stop building the settlements and start withdrawing the settlers. Without U.S. financial aid, Israel would not have the wherewithal to keep building and protecting the settlements (at the expense of our schools and hospitals). Without U.S. backing in international arenas, Israel would be alone in pursuing its policies of occupation.

Mr. President, you can write a historic chapter of peace in the Middle East, if only you don't back down from your demand that both sides engage in good-faith negotiations. Don't let the extremists continue to set the agenda.

This occupation, like every other in history, will ultimately come to an end. I want that to happen before my two beautiful little grandchildren are also called up for duty.

 

Gila Svirsky of Jerusalem is chair of B'Tselem, Israel's foremost human rights organization in the Occupied Territories. She spoke in Little Rock from Sept. 18-24 at the invitation of the Arkansas chapter of Women's Action for New Directions. Ernest Dumas is on vacation.

 

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Schlafly's influence

    Phyllis Schlafly, mother, attorney and longtime antifeminist, died recently. What Schlafly promoted was not novel or new. Men had been saying that men and women were not equal for years. However, anti-feminism, anti-women language had much more power coming from a woman who professed to be looking out for the good of all women and families.
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Seven

    The controversy over the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol lawn just won't go away.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Why a change of leadership at the LRSD now?

    Johnny Key's abrupt, unilateral decision to not renew Baker Kurrus' contract as superintendent strikes us as shortsighted, misguided and detrimental to the education of our children and the health of our community.
    • Apr 21, 2016

Most Shared

  • Conspiracy theorists

    Back in 2000, I interviewed Rev. Jerry Falwell on camera in connection with a documentary film of "The Hunting of the President," which Joe Conason and I wrote.
  • The health of a hospital

    The Medicaid expansion helped Baxter County Regional Medical Center survive and thrive, but a federal repeal bill threatens to imperil it and its patients.
  • Virgil, quick come see

    There goes the Robert E. Lee. But the sentiment that built the monument? It's far from gone.
  • Real reform

    Arkansas voters, once perversely skeptical of complicated ballot issues like constitutional amendments, have become almost comical Pollyannas, ratifying the most shocking laws.
  • That modern mercantile: The bARn

    The bARn Mercantile — "the general store for the not so general," its slogan says — will open in the space formerly occupied by Ten Thousand Villages at 301A President Clinton Ave.

Latest in Guest Writer

  • Vote no on school tax

    I have never voted against a school tax in my life, but I will be voting against the debt service millage extension for the Little Rock School District.
    • May 4, 2017
  • Intracity tourism

    The issues that tug at my heartstrings are neighborhood stigma and neighborhood segregation, which are so prevalent in Little Rock. In my opinion, the solution to those problems is "intracity tourism."
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • Not justice

    The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Underutilized waterway is a hidden gem in urban Little Rock

Event Calendar

« »

May

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Not leaders

    As soon as I saw the Notre Dame graduates walking out of their own commencement ceremony as Vice President Mike Pence began to speak, I thought, "Oh no, here we go again."
  • Conspiracy theorists

    Back in 2000, I interviewed Rev. Jerry Falwell on camera in connection with a documentary film of "The Hunting of the President," which Joe Conason and I wrote.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Conspiracy theorists

    • To bow or not to bow? Is that it? Has the Island of Misfit Toys…

    • on May 28, 2017
  • Re: Conspiracy theorists

    • .... and having a beer with Gene Lyons, who gave the cutest clumsy curtsy before…

    • on May 27, 2017
  • Re: Conspiracy theorists

    • Are you saying Karl Marx has left the building? The New York Times denies it…

    • on May 27, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation