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May/June 2010 Postcard

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DEAR PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

I COMMEND THE administration’s firm stand against provocative actions that threaten the prospects for a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, such as Israel’s recent settlement construction plan in East Jerusalem. Israel’s opposition to U.S. requests and policies is unacceptable given that, each year, U.S. taxpayers give Israel around $3 billion, or $1,000 per Israeli citizen.

This is a considerable commitment, given the economic strain and hardship experienced by our own citizenry. Moreover, statements by Gen. David Petraeus, Adm. Mike Mullen, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates all have indicated that Israel’s behavior and the ongoing conflict may be jeopardizing American lives and military interests in the region. I call on you, therefore, to increase pressure on Israel and ensure American interests receive the priority they deserve. If Israel continues to ignore legitimate U.S. concerns, we can easily use those tax dollars here at home. 


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Activists in San Francisco call for an end to U.S. aid to Israel on March 15. (Photo Phil Pasquini)
   

ON MARCH 9, only hours after Vice President Joseph Biden reaffirmed unwavering U.S. support for Israel’s security, Israel’s Interior Ministry revealed plans for 1,600 new housing units in the illegal East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo.

The announcement damaged the Obama administration’s effort to rehabilitate an already debilitated peace process through “proximity
talks.” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized for the announcement’s timing, but not its content, despite numerous requests from Obama administration officials to freeze construction. Netanyahu reinforced Israel’s commitment to building Jewish-only housing in Arab East Jerusalem and his defiance of Washington’s settlement policy at AIPAC’s March 21-23 conference, stating that “Jerusalem is not a settlement. It’s our capital.”

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