Friday, January 15, 2016

Letter to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

This letter was delivered to Senator Gillibrand electronically on January 15, 2016. I encourage you to write to Senator Gillibrand or to your own Senator and share your thoughts about this issue.

Honorable Senator Gillibrand:

I read in Haaretz recently that along with seven other Senators you visited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the nuclear deal with Iran. While I applaud you for supporting this monumental deal, I am disappointed that you feel the need to placate a rogue state who presents a grave danger to the Middle East and is one of the world's worst human rights violators.

According to Haaretz, you said you discussed with Netanyahu “the ongoing threats from Iran and its proxies, terrorism and violent extremism in the region, the future of Israel, and how the United States can continue to work with Israel to ensure its security.”

In case you are not familiar with history, the only time in the last 300 years Iran has invaded another country was under the Shah, a client sponsored and propped up by the United States. Unlike Israel, Iran is not occupying another nation's land, stealing its water and transferring its own civilian population into its territory in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Iran, unlike Israel, has signed and complied with the Non-Proliferation Treaty. (Israel is one of only four states in the world not to have signed the NPT.) In fact, Israel is the only nation in violation of UNSC Resolution 687, which declares “the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery and the objective of a global ban on chemical weapons.”

Israel has at least 200 nuclear weapons and has for at least the last 30 years. During the 1980s, Israel provided the charges to detonate nuclear weapons to the apartheid South African regime, making the most despised government in the world a nuclear power.

Last fall, the United Nations General Assembly sought to counter “the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East” with a resolution recognizing that this “would pose a serious threat to international peace and security.” This threat necessitates “the immediate need for placing all nuclear facilities in the region of the Middle East under full-scope safeguards of the Agency.”

The resolution passed by a margin of 151-4. Only the United States, Israel, Canada and Micronesia voted against it. In a separate resolution, the U.S. and Israel stood alone against 177 other countries who supported further efforts to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. That resolution calls for a “prohibition on the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons.”

Even without its WMD, Israel would pose a grave threat to peace with its army and conventional weapons alone. Israel has repeatedly violated the sovereignty of its neighboring countries, the most flagrant example being the aggressive invasion and occupation of Lebanon in 1982 which killed 20,000 people. Unlike Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Israel has even attacked the United States itself. In 1967, Israeli warplanes bombarded the USS Liberty, killing 34 American servicemen. Israel’s possession of WMD only compounds their destructive capacity.

If you truly seek to lessen the ongoing threats of extremist violence in the Middle East, you should be concerned about Israel's military occupation of Palestine and its denial of citizenship and human rights to Palestinians. You should work to end the ideological, economic, military and diplomatic support by the United States government that is essential to maintaining the occupation.

Otherwise any reasonable person would dismiss your professed goal to bring peace to the region as flagrant hypocrisy -  the type of condescension to the people of the Middle East and beyond that has made US foreign policy so despised around the world.

I urge you to help bring the United States in line with the international consensus by holding Israel - and the United States itself - to the same standards you apply to others. Thank you for consideration and I would welcome a response.


Matt Peppe