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


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

Knesset Speech
May 15, 2008, 7:09 pm
Filed under: Al Qaeda, Bush, Iran, news, Palestine, peace, politics, terror, war | Tags: , , ,
Dear Mr. President,
    That was a rousing bit of rhetoric you produced for the Knesset.  Here’s part of it, talking about Islamic terrorists, including Hamas: 

“Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.” (Applause.)

“Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of the enemies of peace, and America utterly rejects it. Israel’s population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because the United States of America stands with you.” (Applause.)

I’d like to congratulate your speech -writer for those last two sentences alone.    But when you confuse negotiations with appeasement, you do the entire world a disservice, And when you conflate Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran with Al Qaeda, lumping them all together as simply evil, while we, and Israel, are simply good, then you are criminally short-sighted.  It is evil to murder innocent civilians, no matter what the goal, and so we and Israel should stop doing what you accuse the Palestinians of doing.  Let us remove the beam from our own eye before we criticize the mote in our brother’s. 

Sincerely, VNV