Statement on Obama's Actions Thus Far re Gaza (LATEST UPDATE - 31/1/09)
Saturday, 31 January 2009 10:27
"Mr. President: Give Us a Clean Break from War"
In a message to President Obama today, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney wrote:
"It is time that the United States negotiate in good faith with Hamas, the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. It is also time that the U.S. government tell Israel to release the Hamas Parliamentarians it illegally arrested. President Obama, please say something about Gaza. You have been roundly condemned for your continued silence in the face of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel in Gaza. Silence is complicity. Not one more bomb for Israel."
Israeli action in Gaza has outraged the world. Starting with Israel's inhumane blockade of Gaza when it didn't like the 2006 election results that put Hamas officially into power. In September 2007, Israel declared Gaza an "enemy entity." Of course, Israeli efforts to isolate the Gaza Strip can be traced back to Ariel Sharon as early as 2005. In carrying out its military Operation Cast Lead, Israel not only committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, it also carried out a long-standing goal of Gaza isolation. The President's continued silence on Gaza and the Palestinian right of self-determination is unacceptable.
I would like to commend President Obama for recognizing that peace is the imperative and that the United States can play a constructive role in its attainment. However, placing a phone call to an irrelevant "leader" in an attempt to revive his political standing is not a route to peace: it is a journey down the same road that we're already on, that is massacres, genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture--all with U.S. weapons, paid for by U.S. taxpayers.
The President must call the elected representatives of the Palestinian people and that means dealing with Hamas.
President Obama has already spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. George Mitchell, the President's Middle East Envoy, is reportedly scheduled to visit the region, but is expected to meet only with Egyptian, Israeli, Saudi, and Jordanian leaders, and the West Bank's Abbas. Unfortunately, despite worldwide revulsion and United Nations outrage at Israeli actions in Gaza, Gaza has not been reported to be one of the Presidential Envoy's destinations.
Even worse, one of the first officials that Obama called on his first day in office was Palestinian Mahmood Abbas. Abbas, however, is no longer President, heading a government that has no opportunity to govern, from a state that exists only as a construct not made by the Palestinian people. For the United States to embark upon the path of peace, it must recognize and act on the fact that Mahmood Abbas is now irrelevant.
I believe that the call to Abbas occurred because of pressure on President Obama from outraged activists around the country and around the world calling for him to do something. But Abbas is irrelevant if the goal is peace.
If the goal, however, is to appear to be doing something while all the time doing nothing but allowing the violence of U.S.-sponsored military action to spread including saber rattling against Syria and Iran, then the President is on the right path.
The American people voted for change and peace. President Obama's current path will produce neither.
I have implored President Obama to say something about Gaza. He has been roundly condemned for his continued silence in the face of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel in Gaza. Silence in the face of such criminal behavior is complicity.
President Obama must urgently place a call to the elected government of the Palestinian people.
President Obama can send a strong message to the warmongers inside his own party and present them "a clean break" from war. I encourage him to do so. We will not be fooled by actions that have the appearance of putting us on a path for peace, but that are public relations projects that buy time for more war.
To activists and human rights lawyers around the world I say: “Now is not the time to let up. We must be unrelenting in our pressure for justice and recognition of the rights of all peoples embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Those rights include the right not to be occupied. And the right to resist occupation. This is the embodiment of self-determination. And the Palestinian people are holders of these rights.”
It is time that the United States negotiate in good faith with Hamas, because it is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. It is also time that the U.S. government tell Israel to release the Hamas Parliamentarians it illegally arrested.
While the United States Government spends precious resources to imprison Palestinians in the United States who attempted to ameliorate the humanitarian disaster in Gaza, I will attempt another trip to Gaza to assess the depth of the worsened humanitarian catastrophe now there.
I have repeatedly called on the President to ask for and the Congress to vote not one more bomb, not one more dime for the Israeli war machine.
3 February 2009
7 Safar 1430H