After the Outrage and Tears
April 9, 2002
I just returned to Israel from 2 weeks abroad, and took 2 more days
to get a perspective on what I see and hear, which I would now like
to share with you:
First, the overwhelming picture before us is of death and destruction
wrought by the Israeli army in the Palestinian cities, Jenin above
In addition to the hundreds killed and thousands wounded, we have
irrefutable evidence that the Israeli army has barred ambulances from
evacuating the dead and wounded, has bulldozed homes in large numbers
(sometimes with the families still inside), and has withheld access
to water, electricity, and phone communication for periods of a week
and more. Can you imagine life with no water, while men, women, and
children are bleeding to death around you? And finally having to
bury the corpses in an empty lot nearby, after days of keeping them
These go well beyond the ongoing acts of brutality, mass arrests,
vandalism, theft, and humiliations, which are also rampant. A senior
officer was quoted in Ha'aretz today as saying, "When the world sees
pictures of what we have done there, it will cause enormous damage to
us." It's no wonder that the media are not given access. Listening
to the report from the field at the emergency board meeting of
B'Tselem last night, I was not the only one with tears in my eyes.
This is no time for analysis, although I have much to say: About the
complicity of Peres, about the appalling anti-Semitism unleashed
internationally by legitimate anger at Israeli, and about how
horrifying terrorism in Israel and the so-called "war against
terrorism" in the US have given license to what is happening.
Introduce Bush-Cheney-Rice-Sharon-Mofaz, and the recipe for Violence-
Begets-More Violence is complete. Today's killing of 13 Israeli
soldiers in Jenin only drives home the tragic futility of Israel's
Rather than analyze, this is a time to act. Here in Israel, the
peaceand human rights movement is working tirelessly on every
imaginable front. Soldiers who refuse to serve the occupation are
going to jail; convoys of food and medical supplies hastily
collected have been distributed and more are being collected; human
rights workers are risking their lives to monitor action; peace
activists have braved hailstorms of teargas and stun grenades in
facing army checkpoints; foreign activists have served as human
shields throughout the territories. In my history of activism, I
recall no parallel sense of urgency, in which lives and daily bread
are being set aside to pursue a cause. But I also recall no
parallel feeling that a calamity of our own making is unfolding
before our eyes.
I implore you to take action of your own. Contact relevant officials
(some addresses are given below). If you're Jewish, make a point of
saying that. Tell them:
1) International monitors must be dispatched to the region at
once to end the terrible violence.
2) The root cause of the conflict is the Israeli occupation of the
territories. This must come to an end.
Other things you can do, even if you have limited time:
* If you have just 1 minute to give, forward this letter to others
on your list.
* If you have 10 minutes to spare, write a check to the
organization of your choice (see the links at
www.coalitionofwomen4peace.org for a few suggestions).
* If you have 20 minutes, call, fax or write (make it brief!) any
of the officials below.
* If you have an hour, write a letter to the editor of your local
newspaper (brief and from the heart).
* If you have more time, get involved. See "Get Involved - Find
an Organization Near You" at www.junity.org for some suggestions.
* If you're an American Jew, join the Tikkun Community
(www.tikkun.org) or the newly formed Brit Tzedek v'Shalom - Jewish
Alliance for Justice & Peace (www.jppi.org).
Whatever you can do is valuable.
Finally, I can't help but note that Israel marked Holocaust Memorial
Day today. When will we finally extricate ourselves from this
trauma and apply ourselves to instilling its true lesson, that of
Shalom / Salaam from Jerusalem,