President Bill Clinton
Dear Mr. President:
I am writing to you just as your Middle East envoy, Dennis Ross, is back in the Middle East listening (yet once again!) to expressions of anger and outrage on two sides of the ongoing crisis between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people. I write with the awareness that he will return to this country yet this weekend and report to you, and that you will then be making decisions about steps to take to bring about peace in the Middle East.
Mr. President, I plead with you to consider the fundamental reason why Dennis Ross has had to return to the Middle East so frequently and why there are continued flare-ups of brutal and sometimes deadly violence between the two antagonistic parties in this ongoing dispute. There is one simple reason. The US administration has for the most part been either incapable or unwilling to distinguish between "root causes" and "resulting symptoms" of Israeli/Palestinian unrest.
I think that there can be little question to any careful observer that the "root cause" of the present unrest lies in the continued and highly flaunted "provocations" caused by the actions of the State of Israel in confiscating Palestinian lands, demolishing Palestinian homes, restricting the movements of Palestinian people, practicing what could best be described as "ethnic cleansing" of the Palestinian population within East Jerusalem, and building Jewish settlements on occupied territory, a practice which is clearly illegal according to International Law. While all of these practices, most of them not overtly "violent" by normal descriptions, are carried out by the State of Israel, the US administra- tion appears to look the other way and do nothing. And, what is even worse, if there is sufficient cause within the international community to bring Israeli "provocations" to the floor of the United Nations for a resolution, the US steadfastly refuses to support such efforts, thus ensuring their defeat.
Then, and only then, do things reach the stage of "resulting symptoms." After enough "provocations" have been carried out, the Palestinians, who have no legal recourse other than the international pressure of UN resolutions, finally are angry and outraged enough that they respond with violence of some sort. And,inevitably, a few of them are hopeless enough that they respond with "suicide terrorism." And then, and only then, does the US appear to sit up and take notice. Then the issue becomes framed as "How can we stop the violence?" And the American media appears only too willing to play along with this framing of the question. The American public is left with the impression that there could be peace in the Middle East, if only the Palestinians would stop being violent.
In fact, this is a false reading of the situation. Palestinian violence is not the cause of Middle East unrest, but rather the symptom. The root cause, if it lies with the Palestinians at all, lies in the absolute hopelessness which is engendered by ongoing and well-orchestrated Israeli attempts to disempower the Palestinian people and confiscate their lands.
The true answer to what will bring genuine peace in the Middle East between the Israelis and the Palestinians lies in the matter of "justice" for the Palestinian people and genuine good-faith efforts to bring them closer to sovereign statehood. If the Palestinians ever gain the sense that they are being treated justly by their Israeli occupiers and by the US administration which supports the Israeli government, the root cause of the ever-continuing unrest in Israel/Palestine will disappear. And then, and probably only then, will the Israelis gain the "security" for which they rightly and passionately long.
Peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a two-way street. And as long as the US administration fails to deal with the "provocations" on one side of the equation and responds only to the "violent reactions" on the other side of the equation, there will never be justice for the Palestinians; and accordingly, there will never be either peace or security for the Israelis.
Sometimes the issue is made much more difficult than it needs to be! Mr. President, listen to your heart in this matter and "do the right thing"! Take those actions which will bring about justice for the Palestinians and which will accordingly lead to peace and security for all the peoples of the Holy Land!
Thank you for your serious attention to this matter of urgent concern!