[Documents menu] Documents menu

From sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu Fri Oct 13 11:31:50 2000
From: "Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics)" <sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu>
To: tcraine@hotmail.com
Subject: Dear Senator Lieberman
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2000 10:45:09 -0400
X-UIDL: b;f!!$3*#!G8)#!:!k"!

Dear Senator Lieberman

An open letter from Stanley Heller and Mazin Qumsiyeh
11 October 2000

Dear Senator Lieberman:

We're the fellows who tried to come to your door after sundown after Rosh Hashanah. Since you haven't returned our calls we're writing this open letter. We wanted to talk to you frankly about the unfolding tragic events in the Middle East. Start with the spark, the trip to the Haram al-Sharif by Ariel Sharon and two thousand Israeli border guards and police. The media has been describing Sharon as a hardliner. Of course, you know this is an understatement. Sharon is literally a war criminal responsible for the deaths of thousands of Palestinian civilians. He started with atrocities carried out by his notorious army Unit 101 during the 1950's. As Defense Minister his Air Force bombed refugee camps during the '82 invasion of Lebanon. It was he who supported the Lebanese militia and allowed them into the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps where they massacred over 2,000 innocent men, women and children. Sharon should be in jail for war crimes. It is unthinkable that he should be let anywhere near Palestinian holy sites.

To let him to "visit" the Haram al-Sharif is even more outrageous. This 1300 year old religious complex is a target of Israeli fundamentalist extremists who want it razed. Sharon has openly supported them in the past. But not even threats to the Haram could have stirred Palestinians to come out into the streets day after day to face beatings, and shootings. The fuel that caught on fire was the intolerable day to day living conditions of Palestinians and the utter failure of the "peace process". Seven years after the "handshake" Palestinians are much poorer than they were before. Their areas, which are not connected to each other, are surrounded by army checkpoints and bypass roads. These latter are Jewish-only superhighways. Forget about who gets Jerusalem as a capital. Israel forbids all but a small percentage of Palestinians from entering Jerusalem. Can you imagine what that means for a Palestinian to be shut permanently away from Jerusalem? At a recent rally the writer Fawaz Turki said, "If I forget thee O Jerusalem let my right hand forget its cunning" Remember that phrase? Do you think only Jews know it?

We haven't said a word about the Palestinian refugees. 700,000 were driven out of their homes in 1948, through massacre, threats and fear. Over 3.6 million are now registered as refugees with international agencies. You've been to Israel many times. Have you ever set foot in a refugee camp? Do you know what it is like without a proper sanitation system or adequate nutrition and shelter? Do you know what it's like to get up in the middle of the night to spend hours going through checkpoints and traveling to Israel for some low wage job in an apartheid economy that is calculated to impoverish Palestinians and use their natural resources for teh benefit of settlers? Can you even imagine what it's like in the camps in Lebanon where the infrastructure the Palestinians built over decades was erased 18 years ago by the Israeli army?

Let's crystallize it. The Palestinians live in apartheid conditions. Israel Shahak, the great Israeli human rights activist once described Israel/Palestine with this sentence, "Half is Soweto, and half is Johannesburg". Until Israeli governments are willing to dismantle that system there is never going to be hope for peace.

And let's be honest. Israeli governments can enforce apartheid because a river of US money and guns flows every day to that country. Unless the Congress closes the spigot, the Israeli government won't change. It will still treat Palestinians like dogs. It will still shoot down 12 year old boys with American weapons.

I know you're very busy. So is Jamal Al-Dira whose son Rami died in his arms on Sunday. Interviewed in his hospital bed in Jordan, he told an Israeli journalist that he is a known supporter of co-existence of Jews and Arab. Asked whether his tragedy changed his view, he replied that the two peoples must live together. He repeated this three times.

Senator Joe, you're reputed to be a man of conscience. Please speak out against Israeli apartheid and murder of civilians. Please demand that Congress suspend aid to Israel until it complies with basic human rights and international law.

Very sincerely,

Mazin Qumsiyeh,

Stanley Heller

October 11, 2000

[World History Archives]    [Gateway to World History]    [Images from World History]    [Hartford Web Publishing]