Dear Mr. President

Amnesty in Gaza
January 30, 2009, 8:43 pm
Filed under: Israel, justice, news, Obama, Palestine, peace, politics, U.S.A., United Nations, war | Tags: , , ,

Dear Mr. President, I just sent a message to Secretary of State Clinton and Ambassador Rice from Amnesty International. The letter, which I have appended to this, is pretty long-winded. What I’d like to say is that, while we continue to support Israel in its very real struggle for survival, we need to recognize that Hamas is not going to disappear. It is the legitimately elected government of Gaza, eyeless or not. And in order to help the people of Gaza, who have just been through hell, we need to work with Hamas. So let’s do it.

Here’s the letter from Amnesty:

“Now that the fighting between Israel and Hamas has largely ceased after their declaration of separate ceasefires, the true scale of devastation wrought on civilians in Gaza is becoming increasingly evident. Our researchers in Gaza and southern Israel have this week found first hand evidence of war crimes and other serious violations of international law by the parties to the conflict, including possible crimes against humanity, as well as abuses of human rights. Amnesty International believes that long-term peace and security cannot be found in the Middle East unless accountability is established for crimes under international law. The United Nations Secretary-General has already called for an urgent, impartial investigation into the shelling of UNWRA schools, including with the use of White Phosphorus munitions, and other attacks on UN buildings and personnel in Gaza. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recently briefed the Security Council on his return from Gaza and emphasized: “where civilians have been killed and there are allegations of violations of international humanitarian law, there should be thorough investigations, full explanations and, where it is required, accountability.” In adopting resolution 1860 (2009), the Security Council called for a ceasefire, for the unimpeded provision of humanitarian assistance and the re-opening of crossing points into Gaza. But the Security Council failed to address the question of accountability. Amnesty International believes this is critical—that those who have committed possible war crimes should not be given impunity. Considering the mutual recriminations that may affect the impartiality of national investigations, and the poor record of investigations by Israel into violations by its forces, Amnesty International urges the US to support the establishment of a comprehensive independent international inquiry – set up by the UN Security Council – into all allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups participating in the conflict. An international fact-finding team of qualified experts should carry out its investigations on the basis of the highest international standards. It must have powers to gain access to all relevant documents, other evidence and persons, and its report and findings must be public so that follow-action can be taken. As Israeli attacks in Gaza have used US made weapons, the US must not fail to respond to domestic and worldwide expressions of concern that international humanitarian and human rights law must be upheld in Gaza, that accountability for violations be established and that the perpetrators are brought to justice. For more information, please see Amnesty International’s latest report: The conflict in Gaza: A briefing on applicable law, investigations and accountability (, which we hope you will find helpful in your further consideration of the grave situation in Gaza. Thank you for your prompt attention to this urgent matter. ”

Sincerely, Margaret Sacht


Six more days
January 14, 2009, 8:18 pm
Filed under: Bush, children, ethics, Israel, news, Palestine, peace, U.S.A. | Tags: , , , , ,
Dear Mr. President,
     What can you do in six days?  God created the earth, don’t forget.  Surely you could do some good.  Couldn’t you exert what little influence you have towards peace in Gaza?  Ask the Israelis to stop bombing until after the Inauguration, for example, thus allowing humanitarian aid  for those injured children?  
     At the very least, you could take a good, hard look at what you yourself have demolished in the world.  You could realize that your doctrine of illegal, aggressive war is what is motivating Israel right now.  You could accept some responsibility.  God looked upon every day of creation and saw that it was good.  You could look every day and see that what you have done has been bad.  
     Sincerely, VNV

Cluster bombs and bomblets
December 3, 2008, 5:10 pm
Filed under: Bush, children, death, ethics, Israel, news, peace, politics, Russia, U.S.A., war | Tags: , , , , , ,
Dear Mr. President,
     Words cannot express my extreme disgust at our country’s refusal to join almost the entire rest of the world in banning cluster bombs.  Why????  What good are they???    Have they won us one single war anywhere? 
    No.  They have maimed and killed countless children, but that’s about all they are good for.  I cannot believe that we need to kill off children in order to make the world safe for democracy. 
    And don’t give me that tired argument that the Russians and the Chinese aren’t signing on, either.   Does that make it better, to know that we are in agreement with two of the most repressive non-democracies in the world?  As for Israel, didn’t they just recently use cluster bombs in Lebanon and then say they didn’t?  Why did they deny it?  Because the use of cluster bombs is shameful, that’s why.   
    So do one good thing during your Presidency.  Ban the bomblets!
Sincerely, VNV

Iran and the Nazis
May 19, 2008, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Bush, Germany, Iran, Israel, news, peace, politics | Tags: , , ,
Dear Mr. President,
     The well-regarded British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ (which, by the way, advertises itself by claiming that, unlike the three American Presidents before you, you do not rely on “The Guardian” as a source for your international policies) has a nice commentary on your suggestion that talks with Iran would be tantamount to appeasing Nazi Germany, whereby you equate Iran today with Nazi Germany:
“It should be noted that this idea is generally considered to be ridiculous by three main groups: People who have studied Nazi Germany; People who have studied Iran; People who have studied both Nazi Germany and Iran.”
Sincerely, VNV

Middle East Visit
May 18, 2008, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Bush, Iraq, Israel, news, politics, prisoners | Tags: , ,
Dear Mr. President,
     What have you been up to?  Apparently your visit to the Middle East was less than a success.  In fact, German television said that your visit had created a new low point in Middle Eastern relationships.   Maybe this was because of your condescending, patronizing tone. 
   Here’s a typical sentence from your speech:    “I call on all nations to release their prisoners of conscience, open up their political debate, and trust their people to chart their future.”
Yes.  Well.   How about releasing those prisoners at Guantanamo, too?  How about opening up real political debate about the war instead of playing on people’s fears?  How about trusting the Iraqis to chart their own future?   Stop calling other people’s kettles black until you’ve polished up our own pot.
Sincerely, VNV

May 17, 2008, 6:33 pm
Filed under: Bush, ethics, Germany, Iraq, Israel, news, politics, war | Tags: , , ,

Dear Mr. President,
   .  At first I took your speech in the Knesset simply as
your usual diatribe against a straw man.  After all, no one is seriously
suggesting we leave Israel in the lurch, and no one who wants to talk to
Iran or Syria is going to sell out Israel the way some people think
Chamberlain sold out the Sudetenland.
    But the more I have looked at your speech, the more offensive it seems.  You
made it sound as if people like Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter were enablers of evil, indeed, of an evil tantamount to that embodied by Hitler.  You stood there in front of the highest assembly of the Jewish people, many of whom suffered incredibly under Hitler, and there you accused your political opponents of complying with Hitler’s progeny.   Sir, how could you?  Either you don’t know what appeasement means, or you are without conscience in your instrumentalization of that highly charged word.

Sincerely, VNV