Dear Senator Warren,
Thank you for your leadership to protect the Middle Class (consumers and taxpayers) and to hold the financial Wall Street titans accountable for their irresponsible greed. Many Americans, including me, have watched your strong advocacy hoping that a new culture of fairness for the “little guy” is finally coming to Congress. You have asked the tough questions that need to be addressed, and you have demanded answers when many of your colleagues in Washington D.C. seemed content to maintain the status quo. Thank you!
Now, I hope you will use the same moral clarity which has guided you on consumer protection issues and turn that moral compass to foreign policy issues and, in particular, to the Palestine-Israel conflict. Just as the financial morass demanded scrutiny beneath the surface, there is much more to the Israel-Palestine conflict than is reported in the general media. My personal education about Gaza and Hamas grew tremendously after spending 9 months (September 2012 – May 2013) teaching in Gaza.
No American politician knows Israel and Palestine better than President Jimmy Carter. I encourage you to invite President Carter to either a personal meeting or a gathering of your peers in Congress to share his experience and recommendations. Ask him your tough questions about the Middle East.
I also hope you will have an opportunity to read the short stories written in English by young authors from Gaza in Gaza Writes Back. I’m pleased to give you this gift with the hope that you will find time, perhaps on your daily commute, to hear from Palestinians about life in the Gaza Strip.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency issued a report two years ago that Gaza may be unlivable by 2020. The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been struggling under Israel’s oppressive economic, political, and cultural siege for 7 years. Movement in and out of Gaza has virtually ceased for most Palestinians and others wishing to visit. The buffer zones imposed by Israel have severely curtailed agricultural production and fishing. The damage sustained from Israel’s past 3 military offenses in Gaza (Dec 2008- Jan 2009, Nov. 2012 and July – Aug 2014) has been cumulative, with families never fully recovering.
American taxpayers support these military operations and Israel’s illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to the tune of over $3 Billion per year, far more than any other country receiving US foreign aid. As investors in this long-term occupation lasting more than six decades, Americans have a responsibility to ask if it’s in our best interest to continue subsidizing the occupation or could the U.S. be a more responsible friend to Israel by employing some tough love?
We should demand that Israel stop all illegal settlement expansions in the occupied Palestinian territories, and if Israeli leaders refuse, we should withhold our generous foreign aid. We should not be cooperating in the economic siege of the Gaza Strip, and we should demand that Israel lift it. Finally, we should demand that the illegal military occupation of Palestine end.
You may hear from foreign policy advisers that the geopolitical landscape in the Middle East defies any simple solutions like the three I have mentioned above, but then I hope you will use the same moral compass and independent thinking that you have used on consumer protection issues.