Thursday, July 20, 2006

An Open Letter to Sen. Sununu

Dear Sen. Sununu,

I am very concerned with the developments in the middle east. Israel's attacks on innocent civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza and Lebanon is very disconcerting. The Daily Star is reporting IDF air strikes against privately owned factories throughout the country.

"The production facilities of at least five companies in key industrial sectors - including the country's largest dairy farm, Liban Lait; a paper mill; a packaging firm and a pharmaceutical plant - have been disabled or completely destroyed."

For the U.S. to sit back and watch this devastation is absolutely unacceptable. These actions are a violation of U.S. law, specifically the U.S. Arms Export Control Act and the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act. The U.S. Arms Export Control Act restricts the use of U.S. weapons to legitimate self-defense and internal policing; U.S. weapons cannot be used to attack civilians in offensive operations. The U.S. Foreign Assistance Act prohibits U.S. aid of any kind to a country with a pattern of gross human rights violations.

The attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza and Lebanon are examples of collective punishment, which are prohibited under the Geneva Conventions.

It is incredible to see IDF bombs landing in the Christian villages and towns and suburbs like Byblos, the port in east Beirut, Zahle, and Hadath.

These attacks have gone above and beyond targeting hizbullah and place the whole region and world in jeopardy.

Israeli warplanes pounded an army barracks east of Beirut in an overnight raid in which 11 troops, including four officers, were killed and 40 injured.

That wasn't a Hizbullah barracks. That was the regular Lebanese army, the one the Israeli's say they would trust to patrol the Lebanese border with Israel, and which they wish would take on Hizbullah. So why are they bombing the Lebanese Army?

It is very important to monitor not only what leaders say, but also what they are actually doing.

I look to you with your knowledge of the region to provide leadership as it seems the president is unwilling to do so. Please do all in your ability to not let this conflict escalate out of control, but bring about a ceasefire and bring cooler heads to the table.

Israel must allow, at the very least, humanitarian relief organizations safe passage while thousands of civilians are trapped in southern Lebanon. A cessation of hostilities in civilian and private infrastructure must be immediate. A ceasefire in all regions must be accomplished soon thereafter and the leaders of both parties must be willing to negotiate for a long-term peace.

We must also accept our responsibility as the bomb casings that the IDF leave behind say "Made in the USA". Congress is directly to blame for supplying Israel with $3 billion dollars in aid annually, and for strongly backing Israeli military tactics.

Do we really want little innocent Israeli girls writing messages on bombs being readied to drop as was photographed recently. Is this what we are teaching children today? Is that America's values? Is this the kind of world we want to bring our children up in and have them continue?

We must be evenhanded, but lawbreakers must be punished on both sides of the conflict or negotiations will never occur and peace will never prevail.

Please view the pictures of the devastation that are available on the internet, but are missing from television here in the U.S. and in Israel. I will not link to them as one must have a very strong stomach.* Suffice it to say they are horrifying. We must stare in the face exactly what our tax dollars are making possible in the middle east. The bombings are not serving any purpose, but to inflame, destroy the innocent, and set Lebanon back another 20 years.

Stability or chaos is the choice every American can make, but some have more influence than others.

I hope we all make the right choice.

*For those interested, a sample is available here, here, here, and here.