Response to Congressman Howard Berman’s Letter to the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel

The Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel was established in Albuquerque, NM and has erected billboards in a number of cities throughout the U.S. A few days ago Congressman Howard Berman sent a letter to the Coalition that appeared in a number of publications. Below is my response to the Congressman.

As a past spokesperson for the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel I would like to respond to Congressman Berman’s letter to that organization. My aim is to engender a more accurate understanding of who we really are and what we really advocate.

Mr. Berman’s use of language is founded in an Us against Them mentality. As such, it is inherently polarizing. Thus, he mistakenly interprets our call for Congress to end military aid to Israel as anti-Israeli. He also suggests that the current relationship between the U.S. and Israel demonstrates international leadership. We respectfully disagree with both claims.

First, America’s extraordinary monetary and diplomatic assistance is a key factor in enabling Israel to carry on its daily violations of international law and the denial of basic civil rights for millions of Palestinians. This misguided support allows Israel to divert resources it would otherwise use for military purposes to its settlement – really colonization – project and its forty-five year occupation of an indigenous people. Without the billions of dollars given to Israel by American taxpayers, its leaders would very likely be compelled to negotiate a peace that would be fair to both sides.

Mr. Berman’s claim that it is Mr. Abbas who is the obstacle to peace betrays his bias as well as a serious lack of research into the subject. Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Likud party have always rejected a Palestinian state and have even called for Israel’s eastern border to extend to the Jordan River. In this light, along with the undeniable fact that Israel continues to gobble up more and more of the land it allegedly is willing to negotiate over, I ask Mr. Berman how anyone could possibly believe that Israel has ever negotiated in good faith with any interest in a real peace that honors fundamental rights to self-determination and equality for all people.

Second, the way to demonstrate international leadership is not to enable our friends’ daily violations of international law that enrage much of the world but to insist that our friends, just as much for their sake as for anyone else’s, respect international law. A true friend does not make excuses for his friend’s behavior when he sees him humiliating and terrorizing his much weaker neighbors. If Mr. Berman really wants to be a true friend to Israel we encourage him to put aside any political motives he may have and to undertake an honest and objective research into the history of Israel-Palestine, even if it means that he could become an object of the kind of false accusations that he and his friends, such as the ADL and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, have made against our Coalition.

Finally, Mr. Berman says: “I am not going to stand by and remain silent as some outside group comes into our community with these outrageous billboards calling for an end to our security partnership with Israel.”

The Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel is not going to stand by and remain silent as the United States, in the name of democratic values, and Israel, in the name of the Jewish people, make Americans and Jews around the world less secure as a result of their outrageous refusal to recognize the democratic rights of a non-Jewish people.

2 thoughts on “Response to Congressman Howard Berman’s Letter to the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel

  1. WELL DONE Rich,

    Maybe Mr. Berman might be interested in what Israeli Jonathan Ben Artzi, a nephew of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:

    “Sometimes it takes a good friend to tell you when enough is enough. As they did with South Africa two decades ago, concerned citizens across the US can make a difference by encouraging Washington to get the message to Israel that this cannot continue…

    “If Americans truly are our friends, they should shake us up and take away the keys, because right now we are driving drunk, and without this wake-up call, we will soon find ourselves in the ditch of an undemocratic, doomed state.”

    I am Eileen Fleming for US HOUSE in solidarity with you and Jonathan and I approve of ALL of my messages!

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