Letter form US Palestinian Supporter

Dear Jenny and Steve,
Thank you for bicycling from Amsterdam to Antwerp to try to win some decency for the Palestinians.  It is unbelievable how callous the western powers are about the mess that Britain created and the U.S. has sustained.
A Sioux City emergency room physician was part of the American Medical Mission to Gaza–the first American physicians who got into Gaza after Israel’s assault.  And they were only able to get in because one of their group knew somebody in Egypt whose brother was in the army and gave orders to get them through the Egypt-Gaza border.

He showed his slides of the destruction at a local college, and they were horrible beyond words–many photos of patients with portions of their body burned away by white phosphorous, children dying of conditions that would have been readily treatable if medicine could have been obtained, tank tracks over cemeteries that showed the Israelis went back and forth over them to flatten every headstone, and massive destruction to homes, schools, mosques, orchads, police headquarters, etc.
He showed a slide of a child about ten years old pulling a donkey cart and said the Gazans had to do that now because Israel had killed all their animals–every donkey, sheep, horse, dog, cat.  He showed a field full of the dead animals and said they had been shot in the spine so that they suffered and struggled for days before they died.
After Israel lost 146 soldiers to Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 and Olmert was heavily criticized by the Israeli public for his poor planning, they were itching to show their public and the Arabs that they could inflict maximum destruction.  Israel built a $47 million replica of Gaza City a couple of years ago and had done repeated war games to plan an invasion of it.
I suspect the Gaza invasion was designed to show the voters just before the election that Tzipi Livny was tough on crime and they wanted to do it while Bush was still in power.  Israel and the U.S. are determined to demoralize, deprive, and punish the Gazans for electing Hamas.
Then last night we had Anna Baltzer speak at our other 4-year college in Sioux City.  She wrote the book Witness in Palestine.  She’s definitely a powerful speaker.
At both events we’ve had Christian Zionists in the audience.  One was determined that the three sons of Noah and their descendents were the only ones who had any right to live between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates.  When a Sister/Professor on the Franciscan college’s panel disagreed he started shouting about how this was supposed to be a Christian college and afterwords he argued with her for over 20 minutes accusing her of not being a Christian.
Those Christian Zionists are real nuts.  They believe the Jews were the only ones in the area in bible times, that the foundation of modern Israel in 1948 is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, and that Israel should control even more territory than it does today and make it for Jews-only.  That will bring on the tribulations promised in Revelation at which time Jews will either convert to Christianity or be killed.
Attached is an op-ed that we of the Siouxland Peace Coalition got published in the Sioux City Journal in January.  We wrote the editor and asked for more balanced selection of op-ed columnists.  The editor invited us to write a 750-word column of our own. 
Keep up your good work.  I despair of success.  I used to want the U.S. to go downhill so much that Europe would be a superpower with equal power, but now I’m not sure Europe is any more concerned about the plight of the Palestinians than the U.S. govt. is.  I think with all the recent Muslim migration to Europe, European society is very uneasy about the cultural change it poses and is more inclined to side with Israel.
Love and hugs,

Conflict in Gaza Strip:  ‘An unnecessary war’

            By Gerald Iversen of the Siouxland Peace Coalition

            Published in the Sioux City Journal, Jan. 25, 2009, p. A13


            Understanding both sides’ positions is critical in war.  Syndicated columnists have presented Israel’s position in the Journal.  We of the Siouxland Peace Coalition wish to present facts that promote understanding of the people of Gaza and their leaders.


            Most of the 1.5 million people in the Gaza Strip are forced to live there as refugees from past wars.  The territory is one of the most densely populated places on earth.  Israel has not allowed them to return to their homes, and the United Nations, which created Israel, has not worked out a way for them to return. 


            Israel withdrew its settlers and troops from Gaza in 2005.  Israel, however, still controlled access to Gaza by land, air, and sea; imports and exports; and the movement of people in and out.  By those features Israel was still an occupying power and had an obligation under international law to provide for the people of Gaza.


            In 2006 in a free and fair election the Palestinians voted to give Hamas the majority of seats in their parliament.  One reason is that Hamas effectively delivers social services.  Another is that Fatah, the other major party, is widely seen as corrupt and its leader as an American puppet who has not been able to stop Israel’s relentless expansion of settlements on the West Bank.


            The United States and the European Union immediately cut off all financial aid to the Palestinian Authority until Hamas resigned from the unity government.  They designate Hamas a terrorist organization and will not talk to it because Hamas has sent suicide bombers into Israel and allegedly does not recognize Israel’s right to exist.


Hamas would say in response, “Which Israel in which borders do you want us to recognize?  Is it fair for Israel to be a country in which all Jews in the world are automatically citizens and have a right to live there while Palestinians are herded into ever smaller Bantustans?  When do a people have a right to resist occupation?  After 40 years?  After 60 years?”


Israel has choked off supplies of fuel, electricity, food, and other basics to Gaza.  Last year Israel allowed only 20% of the amount of food needed, reducing the majority of Gazans to one meal a day.  Some had to eat grass to survive.


In June, 2008, a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel was negotiated by Egypt.  Lifting the blockade of Gaza and halting rocket fire into Israel were key terms.  Hamas largely, though not entirely, kept its part of the bargain until Israel invaded Gaza in November.


Throughout the ceasefire, however, Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza and   assassinations of Palestinian leaders continued.


On December 14 Hamas conveyed to Egypt (since Israel and the United States refuse to talk to Hamas) its willingness to extend the ceasefire if Israel would lift the siege on Gaza.  Instead, Israel attacked Gaza on December 27.  


Three Israelis were killed by Hamas rockets in seven years.  (Jimmy Carter, The Washington Post, January 8)   Between Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and December 27, 2008, Israel killed 1700 Gazans.  (Israeli Coalition Against Home Demolitions, January 10)  Since December 27 Israel has killed over 1100 Gazans (including several hundred children).  Among the horrors (and probable war crimes) reported by non-Arab sources are the following.


Israeli troops told 110 civilians to take shelter in a house, but a few hours later, shelled it, killing 30 of them, which the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said “has all the hallmarks of war crime.”  (The Guardian, January 9)


Children were found clinging to the bodies of their dead mothers under rubble.  The children were near starvation and too weak to stand because Israel had prevented ambulances from getting to them for days, which Red Cross official Pierre Wettach called “shocking.”  (CNN, January 7) 


Israel has used Palestinian civilians as human shields according to Amnesty International. (January 8)


Returning from Gaza, Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert voiced his suspicion that Israel was using Gaza as “a test laboratory for new weapons,” including dense inert metal explosives designed to shred bodies.  www.democracynow.org/2009/1/14


Israel has destroyed seventeen mosques, the American International School, and United Nations’ schools.


Is it really likely that Israel’s only motive was to stop Hamas rocket fire?  Was this massive carnage really the only way to achieve it?


The Siouxland Peace Coalition unequivocally condemns the violence perpetrated by both sides, and we agree with President Carter that this was “an unnecessary war.”

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