Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
President Obama, the little town of Bethlehem
and Americans for Palestinian Equal Rights
By Eileen Fleming
ccun.org, December 3, 2009
Bethlehem was the birthplace of King David and Jesus, but today it
is an open-air prison, occupied by Israel's military forces and encircled
by Israel's wall.
The Exodus of the Christian population is
directly related to the misery and injustice they endure under a brutal
Putting Christ back in Christmas should mean
remembering that he too was born, lived and died under a brutal military
And that is why, I became one of many American speakers
with eye witness experiences of occupied Palestine who will spend this
season bringing to places of worship, educational and community centers a
film of Bethlehem 2009, produced by the American Association for
Palestinian Equal Rights/AAPER.
AAPER is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit
educational organization whose mission is to inform the American public
about the human and national rights of the Palestinian people and the role
of the United States in the Middle East.
We are also seeking
Americans with a conscience to send this message to President Obama
through the fill in form accessible through the link at the end:
Dear Mr. President
Last year, you were swept into office on the
hopeful promise of redemptive change. You inspired the nation by
repeating the phrase, “together, we will change the world.” For many
Americans, your words were not merely the final lines of a campaign
speech, but a call to action for a new historical moment.
Nowhere is that call more urgently needed than in the troubled land of
Israel and Palestine, where U.S. policy for the last 60 years has
tragically and dramatically failed. Since 1967, the United States
has granted Israel more than $100 billion worth of our country’s weapons
and funds. To what end? Israel is now better armed, but less
secure, than it was 40 years ago. Even those Americans who purport
to support “Israel’s security” must question whether Israel's means
matches their own ethics and ends.
And what of the Palestinian
people? For more than 60 years, they have lived as second-class
citizens, subject to Israeli laws that discriminate against them on the
basis of their ethnic and religious status. For more than 40 years,
more than 3.5 million Palestinians have lived under the occupation of a
foreign military power. Not one Palestinian born in the West Bank or
Gaza Strip under the age of 40 has ever known the sweet taste of freedom.
As Bob Dylan once asked, “How many years can some people exist before
they’re allowed to be free?”
His subsequent question stands
as a moral challenge to every American: “And how many times can a man turn
his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?” There comes a time
when turned heads must be straightened, when closed eyes must be opened,
when guarded thoughts must be spoken, when muted voices must be raised,
when the sound of silence must be broken. That time is now.
The time for a change has come.
As Americans, the change that we
seek is a policy toward Israel and Palestine that upholds the interests
and ideals of the American people and that includes the incorporation of
three interdependent principles:
First, the United States should
support the freedom and equal rights of the Palestinian people by
conditioning our country’s economic and military assistance to Israel on
Israel’s complete withdrawal of its soldiers and settlers from occupied
Palestinian land and the reversal of Israeli laws that discriminate
against Palestinian Christians and Muslims. As a result of what some
have called the United States’ “special relationship” with Israel, we are
uniquely positioned to assist the people of Israel in achieving the
existential security that so many have so long sought. But we do
Israelis, Palestinians and Americans no favor by simply granting Israel’s
government our weapons and funds without insisting that it uphold our
interests and ideals.
Second, the United States should support
those Israelis that have already made peace with their Palestinian
neighbors. No longer can we maintain blind faith in Israel’s
political leaders, whose soaring words about pursuing peace with the
Palestinian people have been rendered hollow by their shameful deeds in
violating the basic rights of the Palestinian people. The United
States must instead support those Israelis whose words about peace are
rendered authentic by their heroic deeds in pursuing peace, from standing
against the demolition of Palestinian homes to helping rebuild them, from
working against the uprooting of Palestinian trees to helping replant
them, from documenting abuses of Palestinian human rights to physically
and legally challenging them. While their numbers today are small,
their potential is large. And, in the famous words of Margaret Mead,
“a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;
indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” Help us to transform the
moral authority of this small group into a mass movement, for when people
lead, governments follow. So it will be in Israel.
the United States should support those Palestinians who seek freedom and
equality through nonviolent actions against Israel’s occupation and
discriminatory laws. No longer can we reflexively support unelected,
but ideologically and tactically expedient, political leaders and
violently oppose elected, but ideologically and tactically bankrupt,
political factions. In doing both, we undermine our country’s claim
to stand for democracy and good governance the world over. There is
a third way – there are Palestinians seeking freedom and equality through
nonviolent means. Help us to transform the potential of this important
group into political power and that political power into permanent peace,
for when people lead, governments follow. So it will be in
These are principles that the overwhelming majority of
Americans can support, principles that will lay the foundation for
equality in Israel and Palestine, peace in the Middle East and sustainable
security for the peoples of the United States, Israel, the Middle East and
beyond. These are the principles on which we will build a great new
American movement – an American Movement for Palestinian Rights.
We know that we stand on the right side of history; we believe that
the American people will stand by our side; and we hope that you will join
Bethlehem Christmas cancelled: The Wall must fall
Only in Solidarity do "we have it in our power to begin the world
Correspondent for Arabisto.com
Author of "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's'
Life in Occupied Territory"
Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13
Minutes with Vanunu"