Secretary Rice, Please Send Rice to Gaza

“Hypocrisy, double standards, and "but nots" are the price of universalist pretensions. Democracy is promoted but not if it brings Islamic fundamentalists to power; nonproliferation is preached for Iran and Iraq but not for Israel; free trade is the elixir of economic growth but not for agriculture… aggression against oil-owning Kuwaitis is massively repulsed but not against non-oil-owning Bosnians. Double standards in practice are the unavoidable price of universal standards of principle”.

— The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, p. 184

Dear Honorable Secretary Condoleezza Rice:

For the first time in decades Gazans broke out of the world’s largest prison to experience the minutest of freedom when they tore down a part of the Israeli wall that has imprisoned them and deprived them of the dignity, honor, and humanity of their existence. By the tens of thousands they entered bordering Egyptian towns to buy the most basic of life’s sustenance, like fuel, food and medicines for their sick and injured family members. For the first time they saw family members they’ve not seen for years which has been the plight of Palestinians and Syrians on the Golan Heights. Since the world has ignored their strangulation by Israel they took the initiative to breathe free air, to walk freely without checkpoints, beatings, harassment, and humiliation, to feel the free warmth of the sun on their smiling faces wrinkled by decades of fear, desperation, and stress. Children were dancing as adults were clapping. They had nothing, but they had freedom, at least for one day. They knew that at the end of the day they must return to their prison after their brief furlough and encounter with liberty from an oppressive regime, our sole democratic ally in the Middle East.

They realize that because it’s Israel that occupies and dominates every aspect of their lives the world will remain silent. If it was any other nation they would be a free prosperous people by now. But a nation born out of evil, ironically, is in denial of the evil it imposes on an entire population innocent of their persecution and tragic past.

Gaza, the world’s largest and most densely populated prison is replete with cluster bombs, depleted uranium, toxic wastes, and raw sewage.

But Palestinians will never lose their belief in God, in themselves, their love of their land, their indomitable spirit, their patience and endurance, and their willingness to sacrifice and die before they ever surrender one drop of their beloved soil.

They will be free with or without the world’s help for their cause is just, the same just cause and freedom from oppression African Americans fought for, first in patience and song, then in action.

As Napoleon prophetically stated:

“There are only two powers in the world…the sword of the oppressor and the spirit of the oppressed. In the long run, the sword is always defeated by the spirit."

Madame Secretary, I know you feel paralyzed to say or do anything to help lift the siege of Gaza given our President’s investment in Israel and the power of Israel’s lobby as well as the automatic smear attack upon your person should you dare counter Israel’s “right to defend itself” against an imprisoned population, but won’t you at least do one thing for these hungry people? Can’t you at least work to allow food, medicines, and fuel to enter Gaza to prevent this population from facing a humanitarian catastrophe?

Madame Secretary, can’t you at least send them some rice to feed their children?

Our nation just celebrated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, a man who sacrificed his life so that you have the right to uplift yourself from the segregation you endured in the south to become the Secretary of State of the United States of America. Freedom was not voluntarily given to you but was demanded by Dr. King and the long suffering African Americans.

You recently spoke with emotion and empathy regarding the oppression and prejudice the Palestinians endure under Israel’s decade’s long illegal occupation. The Israeli paper, Ha’aretz (10/16/07) in an article titled: “Rice’s Visit/In the Shadow of MLK” wrote: “When Condoleezza Rice talks about the establishment of a Palestinian state next to Israel, she sees in her mind’s eye the struggle of African Americans for equal rights, which culminated in the period of her Alabama childhood….One can guess that the settlements, the checkpoints and the separation fences created by Israel on the West Bank bring back unpleasant memories of Jim Crow racial separation in the South. Her empathy for the suffering of the Palestinians under occupation goes beyond the strict interests of the administration in promoting the status of the United States in the Middle East and has the touch of her personal experience”.

Madame Secretary, your silence along with President Bush’s (if he’s not directly responsible for giving Israel the green light to choke Gaza as a means of punishing Hamas during his visit to Israel) regarding the dying of Gaza under Israel’s total blockade is nothing short of a war crime.

Under the Principles of Nuremburg and International Law Israel and its supporters are guilty of war crimes in their collective punishment and crimes against humanity in the Palestinian territories. The primary principle is that "Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment." Regardless of any immunity under national laws the offenders are liable under International Law, even if an official or person acted pursuant to superior orders.

John Ging, Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza told Al Jazeera TV: "People here in Gaza have been living in abject misery and hardship now for a long time….On top of that they are living in darkness. You have to see how miserable the situation is. The civilian population is under occupation. It is collective punishment – they are victims."

While the entire world is watching this humanitarian catastrophe unfold in horror and disbelief you decided to veto a simple U.N. Security Council Resolution that urges Israel to lift the siege of 1.5 million Palestinians suffering for over a year under massive collective punishment which is illegal under international law.

Rather in knee jerk fashion you blame Hamas for the misery of 1.5 million of its own citizens. Your logic is if they only accept Israel’s siege and permanent occupation there would be no need for such mild collective punishment. The home made incredibly archaic and inaccurate rockets fired into one Israeli city are, according to you and Israel, the main reason for starving an entire population. They are not the problem, they are simply a response and symptom of the real disease—Israel’s Illegal Occupation of their land and our carte blanch and credit card support of Israel. I’m sure you’re aware, Madame Secretary, that Israel aided and funded the establishment of Hamas as an alternative to the PLO.

Your liberator, Dr. Martin Luther King, said thus of those who speak not against evil.

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

Does the Israel Lobby really have such power over our government that all we can do about the dark siege of Gaza is to express “hope” that a humanitarian crisis can be avoided and that we’ll be “in touch” with Israel in this regard? Translation–our government is impotent to take a forceful humanitarian stand to life the siege lest it incurs the wrath of AIPAC. Just who sets American policy, Israel or our elected government? Perhaps it’s time we need an American Lobby in Washington to lobby our Congressional Knesset to do America’s bidding.

The famed British Professor Arnold Toynbee summed it best when he wrote:

“Right and wrong are the same in Palestine as anywhere else. What is peculiar about the Palestine conflict is that the world has listened to the party that has committed the offence and has turned a deaf ear to the victims."

America’s policy viz a viz the Israel Palestine conflict has been a dismal failure since 1948. Israel has rejected every peace plan including the Arab League’s most comprehensive peace plan whose terms meet all of Israel’s demands, yet a plan our government has ignored at the behest of Israel.

It’s time for a new direction, a direction that will save lives on all sides and remove the inhumane and embarrassing yolk of our support for an illegal occupation the entire world opposes. Rather than winning the hearts and minds of Muslims, our blind support of Israel has instead won us hate and terrorism.

Madame Secretary, your official position will soon end but your humanism will endure as long as you live; won’t you use your last year to bring peace to the Holy Land as President Bush has promised? We must talk to Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran. We must end the immediate siege of 1.5 million people, and we must stand up to the Israel Lobby and end its grip on our foreign policy. It’s the right thing to do.

Secretary Rice, with your strong, principled, and courageous public stand against Israel’s inhumane policies, you will find that the entire world will support you, and together “we shall overcome”.