[Sayma-Discuss] FW: Open Letter on Crisis in Gaza from AFSC

Free Polazzo freepolazzo at comcast.net
Wed Dec 31 15:52:00 EST 2008

Dear Friends,


A message about the events in the Gaza Strip from the Secretary General of
the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and a copy of a letter she
sent to President-Elect Obama.  


Let's hold everyone involved in this conflict in the Healing Light.







From: Mary Ellen McNish [mailto:MEMcNish at afsc.org] 
Sent: Wednesday, December 31, 2008 2:17 PM
To: Sheena Hendon
Subject: Open Letter on Crisis in Gaza


Dear Friends and Colleagues,


Below is AFSC's Open Letter to President Bush and President-Elect Obama
about the current crisis in Gaza.  It is serious, and we ask our leaders to
fully engage to solve it.


I want to report that we have heard from our staff in Gaza.  They said
they're unharmed but staying close to home. Power is out most of the time in
Gaza City.


I ask everyone to hold our colleagues and the people of the Gaza Strip, as
well as all people in the region, in the Light. 


Mary Ellen




Open Letter to President Bush and President-Elect Obama


December 31, 2008


Dear President Bush and President-Elect Obama,


As an organization with 60 years of experience working in the Gaza Strip and
committed to a peaceful future between Palestinians and Israelis, we are
saddened and distressed at the spiraling violence in Gaza over the past five
days. As a Quaker organization that cares deeply about the life, dignity,
and security of all people, we ask you to take immediate action to end this
spiral of violence.


We urge you to take all steps necessary to end the Israeli attacks against
Gaza, which have as of this writing taken more than 370 lives, injured
thousands, and destroyed many homes and properties. The military strike is
in addition to a two year-old siege imposed by the Israeli government, and
supported by the U.S. government, that has severely restricted the
importation of food, medicine, fuel and other essential goods necessary to
maintain the well-being of more than 1.4 million people in the Gaza Strip.  


The disproportionate Israeli siege and military assault continue a policy of
collective punishment. The time has long-passed to end this policy.   


At the same time, we recognize that Hamas's decision to launch rocket
attacks into Israel has threatened the safety of Israeli civilians and
incurred tragic consequences for the people of Gaza. 


So the cycle of violence deepens. Even today, Hamas threatens to increase
the number of rockets fired into Israel in retaliation for the Israeli siege
and air strikes. Israel justifies the siege and the attacks because of the
rocket attacks. It's an untenable situation that need not continue.


Violence must be replaced with negotiations. Both the air strikes and the
embargo should end immediately. Israel should engage in diplomacy with the
Palestinians, including Hamas as elected leaders of the Palestinian
legislature. And every effort should be made through the good offices of the
Arab states to urge Hamas to re-establish the cease fire and put forth a
good-faith effort to end the current violence.  


Given its tremendous regional influence, the United States can move the
parties toward a peaceful resolution. The U.S. supports Israel militarily,
financially, and politically.  You have the power to end weapon sales to
Israel; weapons that are often used against civilians. We urge that you also
stop supporting the embargo on Gaza. 


The U.S. government has supported an Israeli militarist strategy that has
not, and will not, lead to a lasting peace. Only a solution based in
fairness, respect, and security for both Palestinians and Israelis will
offer the peace that all so desperately seek and deserve. Only creative
dialogue and negotiation, not military force, can lay the path to that


We urge you to use your power and influence well so that U.S. policy can
move further along the path to peace.  We hope that this New Year is a more
peaceful one, in the Middle East, the U.S., and throughout the world.   





Mary Ellen McNish

General Secretary,

American Friends Service Committee








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