Dear Senator Heinrich (ditto Senator Udall and Congresswoman Lujan-Grisham),
By now, the book I ordered for you should have arrived at your office – GAZA WRITES BACK, Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine, Just World Books, 2013.
Despite your busy schedule of meetings, briefings, and committee hearings, you would be wise to put this book on the top of your pile.
I know you pride yourself in being prepared, doing your homework, and thoughtfully examining issues from all sides before forming your position. I commend you for your diligence.
On the matter of the Middle East, and specifically the Israel-Palestine conflict, Israel obviously has a distorted influence and the power of persuasion over many members of Congress through its well-greased lobbying campaign waged by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, otherwise known as AIPAC. I wonder how many times you’ve met with AIPAC lobbyists. Wish I could be a fly on the wall during those meetings.
Do other countries deploy such influential lobbyists in the halls of Congress? I doubt it. Certainly, the Palestinians don’t have the resources or the political acumen to compete with the AIPAC minions.
That’s why GAZA WRITES BACK is crucial to your education.
Undoubtedly, much of what you’ve learned about Palestine comes through the distorted lens of AIPAC, the Israeli government, perhaps a Zionist organization spewing well-tested hasbara, or the unquestioning mainstream media.
Have you ever spoken with a Palestinian?
Palestinians are certainly neither monolithic in thought nor unified in their political opinions, just like Americans, but the most relevant voices for the future are those of the Palestinian youth who are well-educated, intellectually curious, and possess wisdom well beyond their years.
GAZA WRITES BACK includes 23 short stories written by young adults from Gaza, most have never left this tiny enclave because of the suffocating Israeli siege. Their stories are written in English, not translated from Arabic, and tell about the ordinary and extraordinary events of life under Occupation.
Israeli leaders have waged a very deliberate campaign since the State of Israel was founded in 1948 to erase the history and memories of the indigenous Palestinians from popular discourse, just as they erased hundreds of Palestinian villages in a matter of months. They have carefully framed the conflict to divert the world’s attention away from the Occupation – you will never hear AIPAC lobbyists speak about the Occupation.
Since the US government is funding Israel’s brutal Occupation – to the tune of over $3 billion each year – you should know what Americans are getting for this investment. AIPAC will tell you “security” but, if you read between the lines, these young Palestinian writers will make you think twice about the impact of American foreign policy in the Middle East.
In their own words, with the clarity of uncensored feelings and dreams, these Palestinians eschewed rockets and stones, and decided to pick up their pens to call for justice. Read their stories. Feel their stories. And then lets talk.