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June 2004 Postcard

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DEAR SENATOR:

I am appalled by the lack of a U.S. response to Israel’s extrajudicial killings. Virtually every other nation in the world, including Great Britain, condemned Israel’s assassination of Hamas leader Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi.

How did Israelis think they could get away with breaking international law? Probably because, less than a month earlier, Americans said it was A-O.K. when the Israeli army gunned down Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. We voiced no condemnation, only mild surprise. Yet, with al-Rantisi, it’s even harder to claim ignorance—Sharon had visited the White House only three days before.

Referring to that visit, Condoleezza Rice said that President Bush didn’t discuss Israeli operations with Ariel Sharon. What were they doing? Eating cookies and writing checks? How could President Bush approve of Sharon’s Gaza withdrawal plan without discussing Israeli operations? This is preposterous.

Instead of condemnation, the White House issued a statement, “The United States is gravely concerned for regional peace and stability.” I’m writing today to let you know that not all of your constituency is politely agreeing with such meaningless political drivel. On the contrary, I believe that by backing Israel as it breaks international law we undermine regional peace and stability. 


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Hamas leader Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi spoke to visitors at his home on June 18, 2003, a week after he escaped an assassination attack. On April 17, 2004, Rantisi was not so lucky (AFP photo/Mohmmed Abed).
   

In a June 25, 2002 speech, President George W. Bush said, “Ultimately, Israelis and Palestinians must address the core issues that divide them if there is to be a real peace....This means that the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 will be ended through a settlement negotiated between the parties, based on U.N. resolutions 242 and 338, with Israeli withdrawal to secure and recognized borders....We must also resolve questions concerning...the plight and future of Palestinian refugees.”

On April 14, 2004 Bush approved Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to permanently annex certain settlements in the West Bank in return for a withdrawal from Gaza. He also agreed to forfeit the right of return on behalf of the Palestinians. In the same month, Sharon assassinated two leaders of Hamas.

Now, according to an April 19 Guardian article quoting cabinet member Gideon Ezra, Israel threatens to kill Hamas leader Khaled Mashel in Damascus. Sharon even threatens to harm Chairman Yasser Arafat. Israel’s actions are becoming more brazen, yet we do nothing—except supply it with money and weapons.

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