Jeremy Ben Ami of J Street, James Zogby of the Arab American Institute, and five other “peace” organizations sent a joint letter to President Obama today – to “echo” the McDermott-Ellison letter sent last week by 54 Democrats to the president, blaming Israel for holding Gaza “hostage”:
We are aware that the [sic] Israel links its closure to a cease-fire and release of Gilad Shalit, which Egypt has been pursuing with Hamas. Nevertheless, we urge that, while supporting these efforts, the U.S. should oppose holding Gazans’ right to food, shelter, healthcare, education, and travel hostage to these issues.
Hamas currently rules over Gaza as a result of a military coup; it prefers to hold Gilad Shalit and continue its war against Israel rather than see the closure of Gaza lifted; it has sacrificed the Gazans’ right to food, shelter, health care, education, and travel to its own genocidal goals; it cannot make peace even with the Palestinian Authority, much less with Israel; it caused a war from the relentless firing of rockets year after year into Israel, after Israel removed every settler and soldier; no nation – and certainly not one under existential threat – can reasonably be expected to open its borders to a declared enemy, particularly one currently arming itself for another war. And these seven organizations blame the situation on . . . Israel.
The Obama administration is a firm opponent of military coups (even when they take the form of the “coup” in Honduras), so we can presume the administration will not adopt the suggestion of these organizations to blame Israel for the situation Hamas has caused, or pressure Israel to jeopardize its self-defense. The letter is a useful reminder, however, that even if an organization advertises itself as “pro-Israel and pro-peace,” it is not necessarily either one.