January 15, 2009
Douglas P. Tarnopol
The Hon. Jim Langevin
109 Cannon House Office Building
Washington D.C. 20515
Dear Representative Langevin:
I am a 39-year-old American Jew. My mother was raised in a displaced persons camp in Berlin after World War II; most of her extended family died in Nazi death camps.
The lesson of that event is often reduced to two words: “Never again.” I agree, with a slight, but all important addendum: “Never again—to anyone, regardless of the perpetrators.” Right now, in Gaza more obviously but also in the West Bank, Israel is moving toward its “final phase,” and not just of this latest Gaza “operation.” No, this rampage in Gaza is only the latest acute eruption of Israel’s chronic disease, the military occupation—and ongoing annexation—of Palestine.
The final solution to the “demographic problem” in Israel—perhaps including the involuntary “transfer” of all Israeli Arabs out of Israel, as right-wingers in Israel are demanding—is being funded by American taxpayer money, executed with American military hardware, and protected by American diplomatic and ideological support. Recently, Israel has banned all Arab parties from participation in the upcoming elections. I see no reason to continue to use scarce tax dollars to prop up a racist, apartheid state.
If the facts of the situation in the occupied territories are lost on you, believe me, they are not lost on the victims. Only perpetrators have the option of forgetting or covering up their crimes. Victims have no such option.
In the name of humanity, this must end. The United States should demand an immediate cease-fire in Gaza—without any adjectival dodges (such as, “durable”).
Two further steps will help not only Gazans and the rest of Palestine’s hapless, imprisoned population, but also the United States, and Israel as well:
1. Israeli war criminals should be brought before the International Criminal Court or a Special Tribunal for war crimes committed in Gaza. The investigation, prosecution or extradition of those responsible for war crimes is an obligation of all high contracting parties to the Geneva Conventions, as you no doubt know.
2. In response to Israel’s severe breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, the United States should—
(a) terminate all favorable trade agreements and economic relations with Israel
(b) cut all diplomatic ties with Israel and stop the disbursement of any and all military aid to Israel
—unless and until it commits to end the occupation and negotiate—with whomever the Palestinians choose to represent them—a two-state solution on the June 1967 borders, in accordance with the international consensus.
The entire world knows full well that the United States has enabled Israel’s territorial expansion ever since it decided that doing so would be useful for its own geopolitical purposes. The above is the least we can do to show the world that after decades of crimes in the Middle East—both our own and those of Israel’s that we have enabled—we are indeed turning a new page.
Douglas P. Tarnopol