Ask President Obama to See the Real Palestine

Both Security & Justice for Palestinians as Well as Israelis


In March President Barack Obama will take his first trip to Israel and Palestine as president. According to his itinerary he will spend only one morning of the two-day trip in Palestine. He will meet with Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah, but will he see Palestinian life?


Please email or call [(202) 456-1111] President Obama asking him to include the real Palestine in his visit to the Holy Land. Write your own letter or copy any or all of the letter below to let the president know that his trip should include the real Palestine.


Dear Mr. President:

We are Americans of faith and conscience who are concerned about the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian crisis. We advocate an evenhanded approach by the United States in dealing with Israel and Palestine, recognizing the human rights of all peoples. To this end, we urge you, on your upcoming trip to the region, to visit not only Ramallah, but also the real Palestine throughout the West Bank and Gaza.


There is much to see: the lovely land chopped into pieces by the Wall, Israeli-only settlements and roads built on confiscated Palestinian land, Palestinian olive trees uprooted by settlers or untended because their owners are refused access to their own land. Visit a checkpoint and see hundreds of Palestinians waiting hours to cross to get to work or school or medical care. A good example is Checkpoint 300 between Bethlehem and Jerusalem where up to 3,000 West Bank workers must line up starting at 2:30 a.m. to get to their jobs. It's described here []. If there's a delay, as there often is, you might chat with one of the monitors from Machsom Watch [], an organization of Israeli women who monitor the checkpoints for human rights violations.


A visit to the real Palestine would not be complete without meeting some of the Palestinian Gandhis (yes, there are many) who resist nonviolently every day the Israeli encroachments that take their lands and lives. You could go to Daoud Nassar's family farm, The Tent of Nations []. There, you will see a family who refuses to hate, even though Israelis repeatedly try to take land their family has owned for nearly 100 years. Or, visit Bethlehem and see how Christians and Muslims struggle together to survive in a town cruelly hemmed in by the Wall and settlements. As a sports fan and father of two girls, you might enjoy visiting the Diyar Consortium's Dar Al-Kalima Health and Wellness program, with its champion women's soccer team [] and [
]. Or you might stop by the agricultural village of Bil'in where farmers have been demonstrating nonviolently for 8 years against the wall that has cut them off from their lands [].


How about a side trip to Gaza? There you can see over 1.5 million people confined in which as been called an "open air prison" due to an ongoing Israeli military siege that prevents most people and goods from freely moving beyond Gaza's borders. Taste some succulent Gaza strawberries. You can't get them anywhere else because Israeli restrictions prohibit their export.

According to your itinerary, Mr. President, you will visit an American-financed Iron Dome battery manned by Israeli soldiers. Perhaps you can also find time to meet with some Israeli peacemakers. We suggest Jeff Halper at the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions []. ICAHD works against the house demolitions, displacement and forced evictions of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli authorities. You might also visit the folks at B'Tselem [] - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. They bravely document the many injustices and injuries inflicted by the Israelis on Palestinians.


When you finish viewing Israeli high tech innovations and military hardware, please take a look beyond the Wall at the consequences of this militaristic state--the suffering and steadfast nonviolent resistance of the real Palestinians.


Mary Ann Weston
Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy

m-a-weston at