Green Party pres’l candidate misses crucial political opportunity by not talking up democracy in Israel/Palestine
The following letter to Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for president, was shared with us by Justine McCabe and Joel Kovel, two of its authors. The other signatories, also associated with the Green Party, are Lenni Brenner, Stan Heller and David Schwartzman. Links to documents appear at the end of the letter.
We publish the letter below in response to Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein’s latest press release (10/8) on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, issued on the occasion of the recent Russell Tribunal on Palestine in NYC. We gladly acknowledge the positive movement represented by this press release and receive it as her attempt to address the critique we made to her previous statements, an earlier (9/26) version of this “open letter” to her campaign.
However, we regret that Jill’s statement is still lacking.
First, it still misrepresents the central and distinctive features of the GPUS Platform on this subject: our Party’s support for One Democratic State in Israel-Palestine; and for the non-violent means toward that goal–immediate end to all aid to Israel and support for the Palestinian Civil Society call for boycotts, divestments and sanctions to stop the institutionalized privilege of Jews over non-Jews in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a racism that is intrinsic to a Zionist Israel’s formation and existence. The colonialism and racism on which Israel was founded cannot be ended–nor can sustainable peace be achieved–by the “two-state solution” which your statement supports in its praise for the Zionist Israeli Meretz party. This confuses the issue by diverting attention from the urgency of the One Democratic State proposal. (“Dr. Stein further applauded the actions of the Israeli political party Meretz in committing for the first time to support for a return to 1967 borders, including a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, and for supporting the 2002 Arab Peace Proposal.”)
The GPUS platform does not support a “two-state” solution that even many Israeli Jews acknowledge as a dead end and distraction.
Second, Jill’s statement does not respond to our request that she actively raise this important issue while she’s on the campaign trail.
In rebutting Jill’s press releases on the subject, we neither wish to derail her campaign nor cause conflict within the Green Party of the United States whose formation we have all worked hard for more than a decade. Instead, we believe we uphold the work and integrity of our party as a real opposition party to the status quo. This can only be done by respecting the actual proposals of the Party’s Platform. It is Jill Stein’s disavowal of the Party Platform that sows the seeds of intra-party conflict.
In sum, our analysis is that the Stein Campaign obscures the GPUS Platform on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an issue of vital importance to US foreign policy and world peace, and has missed an excellent opportunity to provide the public with an understanding of the conflict’s origins and ongoing consequences–an understanding that is quite different from that presented by the US media and the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.
OPEN LETTER TO JILL STEIN: MAKE ISRAEL-PALESTINE A CAMPAIGN ISSUE
Dear Jill and the Green Party “Stein for President” Campaign,
We acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifice and enormous effort you make representing the Green Party of the United States. Indeed, we have supported your presidential campaign by donating our time and money.
We write now to continue to challenge you attend to a significant foreign policy issue: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Do you fully support the excellent GPUS Platform on Israel and Palestine? Do you acknowledge more than just its rectitude, which means forcefully speaking out on the issue and making your voice unmistakably heard?
We’re writing from two concerns:
First, your three public statements on the conflict—a May 15 press release, an earlier Truthout interview (1/29/12), and October 8 press release—do not represent the intent of the GPUS Platform, and neglect a chance to educate the public about the conflict’s cause and the negative impact of US Palestine-Israel policy on the security of Americans as well as those in the Middle East.
Second, failing to assert this issue on the stump— which is different from defensively responding to our push–misses a strategic opportunity to mobilize a significant portion of the voting population who do not support the Republican and Democratic policies toward Israel and would support GPUS’ distinguishing foreign policy on this. Moreover, by asserting this, you would enhance the seriousness of your campaign for president, especially in light of the recent and growing anti-American sentiment in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
1. GPUS policies on this issue developed thoughtfully, over a decade. The two key points of this platform are support for the right of Palestinian refugees to return home and the One Democratic State solution. The concrete, nonviolent actions to achieve these goals are immediately ending all US aid to Israel and supporting the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
Unlike your earlier statements, we’re pleased that your latest press release (10/8) does mention BDS as “boycotts and divestment,” and our long-standing support for the Palestinian right of return. However, you still do not place these Platform planks in context: Why BDS? How, why did Palestinian refugees leave their native land? Why will Israel not allow them to return?
Similarly, while your recent press release paraphrases a statement from the GPUS Platform, which “specifically recognizes the rights of self-determination of all peoples in Israel-Palestine,” it omits a crucial phrase from that Platform, “which precludes the self-determination of one at the expense of the other.” How can ongoing settler-colonization and occupation of Palestinian land by Zionist Israelis be “self- determination”? How can it not be seen as precluding the self-determination of one at the expense of the other?
Most significantly, as in the earlier press release and interview, your recent press release does not mention our support for the “One State Solution,” which in addition to calling for an immediate end to US aid to Israel, support for the right of return and BDS, are positions that clearly distinguish our party from others and actually address the conflict’s source.
In fact, the tone of your first (5/15) press release reinforces the political, cultural and corporate media bias that the two parties are equally responsible for the conflict, a view not reflected in the GPUS Platform. The tendency to equalize responsibility denies the real political and military inequality of the “combatants”: a nuclear-powered Israel, fourth largest military in the world backed by the US as its “cop” in that region, versus an impoverished, literally dispossessed and occupied people who have consistently resisted their dispossession, their legal right under international law.
Simply put, the source of the conflict is a Zionist Israel’s intentional dispossession of Palestinian Christians and Muslims because they are not Jews. This accounts for the human rights abuses that continue, some of which, admirably, you do mention in your two press releases. However, without articulating this deliberate dispossession as the root of Israeli abuses, your statements sidestep both the conflict’s source and the just, sustainable solution that GPUS supports—again, One Democratic State. Instead, you continue to defer to more generic human rights “talk” which has proven ineffectual and has been co-opted by the US and its Western allies to provide cover for Israel as it continues to seize and settle Palestinian land at US taxpayer expense.
By referring to the human rights violations by Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority without saying why and how this conflict began and continues, does not enlighten voters about the conflict’s astounding duration or unrelenting Palestinian resistance since the late 19th century. Rather, it contributes to the dehumanization of Palestinians as inherently hateful and anti-Semitic. By contrast, it would be informative and ultimately peace-making for Americans to understand that, as in the cases of apartheid South Africa and Jim Crow US, institutionalized racism is the source of the conflict. [Green Party statement on Palestine]
Moreover, without acknowledging Israel’s deliberate dispossession of Palestinians, the policies you propose don’t make sense, nor does the GP platform.
Why would you, as president, wait for “Failure by any party to demonstrate material progress” (5/15 press release) in respecting human rights before cutting off aid to Israel?
Our platform already calls for the suspension of military and foreign aid to Israel now.
Why do you appeal to the chimera of the future instead of historical fact? Israel has consistently demonstrated that it wants Palestinian land without Palestinians. This is why our Platform supports BDS, why it calls for a return of refugees. And why it supports the creation of One Democratic State.
We appreciate your recognition (5/15 press release) of the significant US culpability in this conflict by its support for Israel, an alliance that primarily sustains the nuclear military industrial fossil fuel complex (MIC) that threatens world peace and increases the likelihood of catastrophic climate change. Indeed, because of the crucial US role in sustaining the conflict—the linchpin of US Middle East policy–we, a US political party and “party of peace”–have an obligation to speak about its root cause.
We’re urging you to direct our country on a new path, to the structural cause of the conflict and ultimately to its solution. No other party will say this if we do not.
2. We believe deliberately raising this issue is highly strategic. Moreover, as we enter the last weeks of campaigning, we believe that the recent events in the Middle East—as well as Romney’s demeaning comments that Palestinians don’t want peace–demand that you, our presidential candidate, demonstrate your grasp of this situation and an issue that arouses significant antipathy to the US in the Middle East and beyond.
Obvious potential advantages would result from assertively raising this issue:
·You would draw media attention on this hot button issue. GPUS policy on this issue sets us apart. Even negative press attention would be valuable in obtaining support of the significant American voting population who oppose US foreign policy toward Israel.
·You would be educating voters about the fact that the Democratic and Republican support for Israel poses a threat to American security, which even the US military acknowledges. Indeed, US support for Israel has us now teetering on the edge of a catastrophic war against Iran. Citizens of every formerly colonized country in Africa, South America and Asia identify and empathize with the dispossession of Palestinians by Israel, empathy beyond the reach of the most repressive government in those regions, and which continues as the Arab awakening proceeds.
·You would be calling attention to the fact that BDS has emerged as a global non-violent movement to bring equality, justice and peace to Palestinians and Israelis. Consistent with our 10 Key Values, BDS is exactly the right approach to bring this conflict to a just resolution, a necessity to end the imperial agenda in the Middle East, prevent a new war (with Iran) and create the global regime of cooperation necessary to end fossil fuel addiction. It is essential for the peace and justice movements–of which GPUS is a part–to unite as soon as possible with the climate security movement. BDS is precisely what is needed in this context.
·You would increase the support of the progressive community, BDS activists, and members of the national anti-war movement that has made Palestine-Israel an integral part of every march. Many of these committed activists waver on voting for Obama as the lesser evil. Your deliberate attention to this issue would fortify these activists to vote for real change as evidenced by GPUS policies that make legal, economic and moral sense.
·You would increase the support of Arab and Muslim American voters who will be drawn to the GP because of our distinguished Platform on a crucial issue for them.
·You would draw the support from many American Jews, especially younger, progressive Jews who, according to polls, have decreasing attachments to Israel and Zionism. While historically the “Jewish vote” has been significant for Democratic candidates especially, data show that support for Israel increasingly comes from elderly Jewish-Americans who provide financial support to both the Republican and Democratic parties.
· You would—whether you’re elected president–be calling attention to the necessity of immediately stopping annual US aid to Israel as a concrete response to the urgency to redirect these billions of dollars to Americans and their domestic needs–a real Green New Deal that your campaign rightly advocates.
In our view, this issue is extremely important to the GPUS presidential campaign. We hope that you will respond positively to our request.
Green Party activist, author of Zionism In The Age Of The Dictators
Green Party of CT
Green Party candidate for US Senate, NY, 1998
Candidate for Presidential nomination, 2000
Co-Chair, International Committee, GPUS
DC Statehood Green Party candidate for U.S. Senator
Member of the International Committee, GPUS
Links to Jill Stein’s statements on Palestine-Israel referred to in this letter:
Truthout interview 1/29/12:
link to truth-out.org
Jill Stein Campaign Press Release 5/15/12
link to www.jillstein.org
link to www.thepoliticalguide.com
Jill Stein Campaign Press Release 10/8/12
link to www.jillstein.org