AN OPEN LETTER TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC

We are Americans who are addressing you from inside Palestinian President
Yasser Arafat’s besieged compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
We entered the compound on April 21, in response to fears that Israel was
preparing to launch a military attack against it. We joined 30 members of
the international solidarity group who were already inside, peace activists
from Israel, France, Britain, Denmark and Australia. We all hope with our
presence to offer protection for the nearly 300 Palestinians who have been
trapped inside the compound since the Israel Defense Force invaded Ramallah
on March 29, 2002.
Inside the compound we have little food, scant ventilation, and
overflowing toilets. We have only the clothes on our backs. There is not
enough medecine for the injured and ill who are with us. On April 27th, the
pipe that brought the compound an erratic water supply was destroyed by the
army. Israeli soldiers have been demolishing buildings around us with
explosives, and flattening vehicles with their tanks. During the past few
days they have built huge barricades around the compound using the rubble and
destroyed cars, topping them with razor wire.
We are here because we cannot be bystanders. We cannot stand by and
watch the unfolding of a terrible injustice paid for with our tax dollars.
This is not a war between two armies. In this conflict one of the world’s
most powerful armies is mobilized against a largely defenseless population,
half of whom are children under the age of 15. American-supplied attack
helicopters and tanks are used against a people who have already endured 35
years of occupation, and the loss of their homes, their land, their
livelihood, their dignity and their human rights.
We deplore the killing of civilians on both sides of the conflict. We
recognize that the Palestinians have a right to resist the occupation and the
ongoing theft of their land for the construction of illegal Israeli
settlements and "Israeli-only" by pass roads. We believe that both Israelis
and Palestinians have a right to a secure existence. And we know there is
only one way to get there: the occupation must be brought to an end.
"Injustice anywhere," wrote Martin Luther King, Jr., "is a threat to
justice everywhere." We are appealing to all Americans of conscience to stand
with us against injustice and violence, and for hope and security for both
peoples.
Please contact your elected representatives and the Bush Administration
(tel. 202 456-1111) and call for a peaceful resolution of the siege in
Ramallah, and the withdrawal of Israeli soldiers from the West Bank and Gaza
Strip, as President Bush himself has demanded. Urge them to support the
intervention of an international peacekeeping force to protect both
Palestinians and Israelis, to be followed by negotiations conducted on the
basis of United Nations resolutions and international law.

Rebecca Murray
Kevin Skvorak
April 28, 2002