THE BLOG

Stand With Keith Ellison and Barbara Lee to End the Blockade of Gaza

08/18/2014 05:31 pm ET | Updated Oct 18, 2014
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

"True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice." -- Martin Luther king, Jr.

I genuinely feel the need to speak out because I think to remain silent in the face of the horrors that we have all been witnessing in Gaza is irresponsible citizenship.

As responsible citizens we must demand that our government exercise all influence to bring the Israeli government to honest, productive negotiations with the Palestinian unity government, to achieve lasting justice upon which an enduring peace, security, and prosperity can be achieved by all. And the first step is for our government to use its influence with Israel and Egypt to ensure that there is a lasting ceasefire between Israel and Gaza that ends the economic blockade of 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza, as Representatives Keith Ellison and Barbara Lee have called for.

It is not just the indiscriminate killing of non-combatant Palestinian citizens, hundreds of children among them, by the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza that moves me to speak out. My concerns coincide with the millions across the United States and around the world who are deeply pained and who denounced the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli boys. I join with so many other people in always opposing attacks on civilians, and therefore I staunchly denounce rockets being fired by Hamas at Israeli civilians. The economic blockade of Gaza's people is also an attack on civilians, and we should denounce this devastating act of economic violence as strongly as we denounce acts of physical violence.

What should we in the USA responsibly do as citizens to contribute to a just resolution?

I support the stand taken by President Obama in calling for a lasting ceasefire. U.S. citizens must understand that a lasting ceasefire requires not just meeting Israeli and Egyptian security concerns, but Palestinian security concerns as well. And that means protecting the Palestinian population of Gaza from the future threat of economic blockade. Palestinian producers in Gaza must be free to export their goods, including to the West Bank. Palestinian fishermen must be free to fish in Gaza's territorial waters. Palestinian farmers in Gaza must be free to farm their lands. Palestinian University students and Palestinians who need advanced medical care must be free to travel from Gaza, including to the West Bank, without facing arbitrary delays and restrictions.

Not only must there be a lasting ceasefire in Gaza, but as former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, have stated, the international community must act to end the Gaza blockade. Carter and Robinson have called for a UN Security Council resolution to end the blockade. The international community should consider this step if the current talks in Cairo fail to end the blockade.

The US government must take concrete steps in sync with the international community, to ensure that diplomacy effectively addresses Palestinian aspirations. Otherwise, experts concede, a new round of violence is inevitable.

The active voices and organized demands on governments by even-handed, responsible citizens of all persuasions can, if we will, achieve peace and justice for all.