January/February 2009 Postcard

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On the day Americans went to the polls to elect a new president, Nov. 4, 2008, Israel closed all of Gaza’s borders and renewed its raids into Gaza and the West Bank. As the rest of the world focused on a landmark election and began to hope again, Israeli leaders broke their truce with Hamas, in effect since June 19, and brought renewed despair to Palestinians.

In this new year the world will face many problems: a recession, poverty, inadequate health care, wars and natural disasters. Our new president, Barack Obama, and every member of Congress will have much to do. Please put the Israeli-Arab dispute at the top of your list. You know what must be done to bring peace, security and justice to the Middle East. Our country must tell Israel to end its siege of Gaza, and to permit food, water, medicine, fuel—and hope—to return to the men, women and children living in the occupied territories.

altPower outages in Gaza put patients who need dialysis in danger. (AFP photo/Mahmud Hams).Israel has prevented most international aid from entering the Gaza Strip, causing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. U.N. Relief and Welfare Agency (UNRWA) warehouses are running out of food. Israel is also preventing cash from entering Gaza. That means no paychecks for anyone who is lucky enough to have a job.

Israel refused to allow a Libyan ship carrying 13,000 tons of food, medicine and other humanitarian aid to enter Gaza on Dec. 1, and insisted Qatar cancel delivery of $2 million in cancer medication. Israel has banned foreign journalists, European parliamentarians and aid workers from Gaza. There is a news blackout in the U.S. The fact is we are permitting Israel to carry out a slow, horrifying genocide.

I’d like to think that by the time you get this postcard, 1.5 million Gazans will once again have electricity, food, safe water and basic health care. But for how long? When will Israel finally end its siege and let Palestinians live their lives in peace and dignity?