This is the clearest summation of recent history. Clear eyed and sober. Can one of my lefty lurkers get this to President O-bluster? Over at J Post (hat tip Rockman)
Dear Senator Mitchell
I am a medical researcher whose background includes more than 30 years of work in epidemiology and environmental toxicology and injury prevention with Palestinians, Jordanians, and Egyptians and the design and supervision of joint projects in asthma in Gazan refugee camps. I have worked with the US CDC and USAID MERC on these projects. Currently, I am doing work to apply the tools of prediction and prevention to genocide and genocidal terror, with an emphasis on the role of state-sponsored hate language and incitement. Sadly, the wars and terror in the region have compelled me to move from the epidemiology of peacetime exposures to those having to do with genocide, genocidal terror, violence, war and mass atrocities.
Like many Israelis who supported the Oslo Accords, I have been mugged by reality. We have discovered that "land for peace" has morphed into "territory for terror." Like many who have thought long and hard about the troubles in our region, I have concluded that we have to stop talking about "the peace process" - a nebulous term, and use something more binding: respect for life, live and let live and human dignity for all. The "peace process" has resulted in thousands of Israeli and Palestinian deaths.
As much as I respect your commitment to mediating the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians can be solved") is no longer relevant to the region. and the Palestinians, or more accurately, much of the Islamic world, I believe your model of "conflict resolution" - (i.e."all conflicts between
This conflict is now being driven and overshadowed by the asymmetrically existential threats to Israel posed by Iran's race to nuclear capacity, its leaders' crude and explicit incitement to genocide and hate language, and their support for genocidal terror, and more. As we know from the Rwandan genocide, hate language and incitement by leaders is a predictor, initiator, catalyst and promoter of genocide. Iran, with its nuclear enrichment and missile development system, poses a far greater potential threat than that of the Rwandan genocidaires. It is now the epicenter of a global axis of genocide and genocidal terror, together with Sudan, North Korea, Hamas and Hizbullah and an array of enablers, allies of convenience, and protectors. In the light of the foregoing, I wish to pose six questions to you and your colleagues.
First: What vigorous and aggressive steps are being taken by President Obama to prevent Iran from acquiring the capacity to make nuclear weapons?
Second: Will the new administration take vigorous and aggressive actions to prosecute Ahmadinejad, his superiors and his accomplices for their incitement to genocide - as they feed the fires of hatred and violence with their calls for the destruction of Israel and their use of dehumanizing hate language? Their language is the language of Mein Kampf. I refer you to HConRes 21 of the past Congress, which called for such prosecutions. Note the Rwandan precedent. The incitement by Ahmadinejad and his associates is a direct violation of the provisions of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and the International Criminal Court. A distinguished list of legal scholars and human rights activists from around the world have supported the petition to bring Ahmadinejad to trial for his incitement to genocide, which is a crime against humanity. They know that if the rockets and bombs are the hardware of genocide, the words are the software. Words kill.
Third: What vigorous and aggressive measures will the new administration take to stop Iran's and Syria's aid and support for missiles and rockets directed at civilian populations, as well as the know-how and financial aid for Hizbullah and Hamas, two organizations committed to Israel's destruction - and, as we now read, regional destabilization of the regimes which are US allies - e.g. Egypt and Morocco?
Fourth: What vigorous and aggressive measures will the US take to support the petition already submitted on behalf of the previous mayor of Sderot to the International Criminal Court to bring Khaled Maashal to justice for ordering the rocket attacks against Israeli civilian centers - a crime against humanity? These attacks have been going on for 8 years.
Fifth: What vigorous and aggressive steps will the US administration be taking to sponsor political and legal action against state-sanctioned hate language and incitement in the mosques, mass media, school texts, academic centers and the parliaments not only by Iran, but the entire Islamic world, including the Palestinian Authority? Region-wide incitement and hate language is a barrier to peace and reconciliation
Sixth: Now that President Obama has made the decision to close Guantanamo, what vigorous and aggressive measures will you take to exploit this powerful moral precedent and ensure that Gilad Schalit receives his most basic human right - IRC visitation rights - in keeping with his status as a prisoner of war? (Classification and separation are early warning signs of genocide).
As someone committed to respect for life and human dignity, and 'live and let live', and is concerned about the future of my seven grandchildren here, I have to state the following: If the new administration wobbles on any one of the foregoing issues, it should not expect any responsible leader in Israel to take it seriously. In fact, it would be reckless for us to do so. To repeat, we in Israel are terrified of the existential threats to our lives and our country posed by Iran and its terror surrogates. It is only after these very real threats are removed that we can move to conflict resolution between Israel and the Palestinians.
National, religious, ethnic and racial groups exposed to genocidal threats usually learn the hard way that they cannot rely on the world community to exercise the responsibility to protect. Anyone can see the similarity of today's regional situation, to the incitement and hate language used against Jews in pre-WWII Europe. The democratic world cannot allow itself to wait until it is too late and later ask forgiveness for having stood by while genocide was occurring. Like then, here too, a morbid plan is unfolding before our very eyes, combining nuclear threats, terror proxies, and regional incitement.
Since its establishment in 1948 by the UN, Israel, though always reluctant to use force, has always relied on itself, not others, to do whatever is necessary to protect itself, in keeping with the Zionist ethos of self-reliance and self-respect. But that ethos includes a reluctance to use force (Israel endured 6000 rocket attacks over 8 years before launching Operation ). It also includes a commitment to preventing war by instilling in the next generation the values of life and respect for life and human dignity, albeit not always consistently and evenly. It also includes the fostering of regional projects in cooperation which apply these values in everyday life - in agriculture, conservation, , and technology.
Asking whether Israel is for or against a Palestinian State is looking for the right answer to the wrong question. The question you should be asking is: what will the world do to remove the asymmetrically existential threats to Israel from the dangers of Iranian nuclear enrichment, arming, supplying, training and inciting genocidal terror throughout the region. No agreement will have any sustainability without addressing these existential threats.
Prof. Elihu D Richter MD MPH (Emeritus)