Dear President Bush,
We write to you out of deep concern over the events in Gaza. Mennonite Central Committee has worked in Israel-Palestine for the past 60 years, and is currently working with partners to provide humanitarian assistance to people in Gaza.
Based on our experience in the region, it is clear that political will is required to end this conflict. We are disappointed that U.S. government statements thus far have focused on the right of Israel to defend its citizens. We implore the U.S. government to take a more balanced approach and to use its diplomatic leverage to:
1. Call for an immediate cease-fire. Hamas must immediately stop shooting rockets into Israel and Israel must immediately stop its campaign of terror against Gaza. Both violate international law and cause innocent children and other civilians to suffer. Continuing down this path is extremely dangerous, and will not provide security for either Palestinians or Israelis.
2. Allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. All parties to the conflict have a moral and legal responsibility to allow humanitarian aid to get to the most vulnerable persons. A humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip is in no one’s best interest.
Fundamentally, a resolution to this conflict must address root causes. The use of military force only adds to the grievances that Palestinians and Israelis feel. It does nothing to address the root causes that lead the peoples of the region to feel insecure. Face-to-face talks, including with the leaders of Hamas, hold the potential for addressing core issues—e.g., Israel must abide by international law and end its occupation and economic blockade; Hamas must acknowledge the right of Israelis to exist in the region; both sides must foreswear the use of further violence and acts of aggression against the other.
As an organization committed to Christ’s way of peace, we at MCC believe that God’s creative Spirit works towards a day in which humanity will sit securely under vine and fig tree without fear (Micah 4:4). Therefore, we urge you to support policies that provide restoration for the dispossessed, security in the land for all, and conditions which foster and sustain reconciliation.
Thank you for hearing our concerns.
Rolando Santiago, PhD
Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
cc: President-elect Obama, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Majority Leader Reid, Speaker Pelosi, Sen. Kerry, Sen. Lugar, Rep. Berman, Rep. Ackerman, Rep. Pence, Thomas Goldberger