Concerning Israel-Palestine: An Open Letter to Jill Stein

I recently sent a letter to the Stein campaign regarding an issue which I think Dr. Stein, as a committed progressive, can and should consider more carefully and in more detail. I think this is worth making a fuss about, so I’m reposting it here.

Dr. Stein,

I’m writing to you not only as a supporter, but also as a critic of the ideology of the “lesser evil”.  It’s therefore incumbent upon me to challenge you on what I (and others) have found to be a serious problem with your statement on US policy towards Israel and Palestine. I posed the following questions during your Reddit AMA, but having received no response, I’d like to pose them again.

You correctly point out that (through multilateral support and direct military aid to Israel) “the United States has rewarded consistent abusers of human rights.” For your vocal opposition to Israeli practices of state and state-sanctioned violence, and for the Green Party’s support for a one-state solution resulting in a secular, democratic state for Palestinians and Israelis, you stand in stark contrast to President Obama and, broadly, both Republican and Democratic party lines.

So I was frustrated to read that a Stein Administration would hold Israel, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority “responsible for preventing attacks by non-state actors on civilians or military personnel” (my emphasis). Given that the Israeli army enjoys the status of a state actor and Hamas and the P.A. do not, how do you reconcile your opposition to the violence of apartheid and occupation with this language, which appears to ignore the regular and abhorrent attacks on Palestinian civilians by the Israeli Defense Force?

The same paragraph continues, “The parties will be given 60 days to each demonstrate unilateral material progress towards these ends.” You go on to define “material progress” as including “but not be limited to an end to the discriminatory apartheid policies within the state of Israel, the removal of the Separation Wall, a ban on assassination, movement toward denuclearization, the release of all political prisoners and journalists from Israeli and Palestinian prisons, disarmament of non-state militias,” etc. It appears to me that despite the enumeration of these laudable goals, “material progress” remains an ambiguous and inclusive demand. Is it not the case that this demand, thus worded, might be fulfilled by nothing more than Israel’s release of a fraction of the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners?

Moreover, what possible justification is there for rewarding “material progress” with the continuation of $3 billion annually in direct military aid to Israel? This seems to represent continuity, not a break, with the current policy of using US taxpayer money to arm an already exceptionally armed state with a demonstrable tendency towards military action against not only the Palestinians but neighboring states as well.

I’m supporting you in this election, not just because I find many of my values reflected in the Green Party’s platform of social justice and an ethical politics. It’s your own personal acts of dissent that convince me that (unlike President Obama) you’d be responsive to pressure by your constituents concerning issues on which we disagree. I hope my writing to you will elicit, if not a reply, at least some consideration of these troubling inconsistencies.

With great respect,

Kumars Salehi

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