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Open Letter To President Bush From The Israeli Left

Dear Mr. President,
 
         We, members of Meretz, Israeli Professors for Palestinian Liberation, Peace Now and Tikkun, are horrified. We are simply outraged.
 
         What a tragic sabotage of peace!
 
         We refer to the latest provocation by the United States in Iraq. How dare your occupation forces conduct an air raid and targeted assassination against the peace activist and Islamic patriot Abu Musab al-Zarqawi? He was the best key to achieving a just and lasting peace in the region, and even to eventually restoring the inalienable rights of the landless and eternally suffering Palestinian people.
 
         Do you not realize that behavior such as yours just contributes to the cycle of violence in the Middle East? You are no better than the Israel Defense Forces, which with its own targeted killings has time and again disgraced the ethics of Judaism as expounded in the teachings of Gandhi and His Eminence Bishop Desmond Tutu.
 
         Mr. President, are you not aware of the mantra we’ve been repeating for years? One can only make peace with one’s enemies! Your unprovoked murder of Mr. Zarqawi was nothing short of symbolic genocide of the Iraqi people.
 
         Now that you have conducted this crime against humanity, things will only get worse. Zarqawi has been senselessly murdered, and the conflict in Iraq now will be be run by the realextremists and terrorists. You blew it. Holding talks with Mr. Zarqawi instead of bombing him would have been the wiser course of action, the courageous step for people truly seeking peace.
 
         As Shimon Peres and Jimmy Carter have been teaching us for years, there is no military solution to the problem of terrorism. The only way to handle the situation in Iraq is to end the illegal occupation of Iraq, which can only be achieved through an immediate unilateral removal of all American and British soldiers and settlers there.
 
         After all, Mr. Zarqawi was a legitimate representative of his people. He enjoyed popular mass support. Just because you do not like his opinions was no reason to kill him. And whatever happened to the notion of the right to a fair trial? If you really believed that Mr. Zarqawi was guilty, why did you not just capture him and give him a fair trial, in a courtroom, with adequate legal counsel?
 
         The only way you can partially make up for this American war crime is to open negotiations at once with the remaining leadership of Iraqi Al Qaeda and conduct talks with them in good faith. You must also provide American funding to all activist groups and parties in Iraq, including the local chapter of Al Qaeda.
 
        Meanwhile, here in Israel, peace-loving post-Zionists and friends of the Iraqi people are taking steps to make the Middle East a better place. The Zarqawi Memorial Committee already has 75 university faculty members as charter members. Motivated by outrage at the senseless murder of Mr. Zarqawi, a new course at Tel Aviv University is already being taught entitled “Psychology 409: The Psychology of Resistance by the Iraqi People to Brutal Amerikan Oppression.”
 
         Officials at Tel Aviv University describe the course as balanced and in-depth. The university’s spokesman has also announced that a new multi-disciplinary program will begin operation next year, in Zarqawian Studies, with courses taught by professors from the departments of history, philosophy, sociology, and, of course, women’s studies.
 
        Meanwhile, at Ben Gurion University, a new building to house the department of political science is to be named the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Pavilion, and will have a sign at its entrance warning that no Zionist may enter to teach there.
 
         A petition is being collected among caring Israeli leftist activists to condemn the irrational assassination policy of the United States and to demand that Washington replace it with an energetic commitment to returning Israel to its 1947 borders. The petition’s call to arms: “All occupations must end! From Baghdad to Nazareth!”
 
         Many members of progressive Israeli peace groups are demanding that Americans stop serving in the U.S. military for as long as President Bush refuses to implement policies advocated by progessive thinkers like Dennis Kucinich and Cindy Sheehan.
 
         We think military service in the U.S. should be conditional on a decision to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq, while restoring Saddam Hussein to power. We have been extraordinarily successful with a similar campaign in Israel, urging soldiers to refuse to serve in the army. This is Israeli democracy at it finest. The American peace movement could definitely take some pointers from us.
 
         President Bush, please understand that the peace-loving Left in Israel is as much in solidarity with the legitimate resistance of the Iraqi people as it is with the social service work and nationalisitc aspirations of Hamas. Only by entering into talks with these bona fide representatives of their respective oppressed nations can peace be achieved.
 
         Mr. President, peace is what must be sought. Like the Prophets in the Bible say, pursue peace! Stop the cycle of violence. End the occupation. Self-determination and freedom for the Al Qaeda movement of Iraq.
 
         All we are saying, to quote the excellent and incomparable sage John Lennon, is give peace a chance!
 

         Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.


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