Remarks to a Rural Community Demonstration

by Thomas Bias

The following remarks were delivered at a protest against the Israeli invasion of Gaza, which was held in the rural community of Sparta, New Jersey, on January 4, 2009. The author is the president of the Northwest New Jersey Peace Fellowship.

My message is not for the Arab people of Palestine. They know that they are my sisters and brothers, and I will stand in solidarity with them as long as there is breath in my body.

My message is not for the Israeli people. With the exception of those who have the moral vision and courage to stand against their government, especially those young people who are refusing to engage in military service, I am sorry to say that we have very little to say to one another.

No, my message today is first for the incoming President of the United States, Barack Obama. Mr. Obama, you have the power to stop this horrendous violence, beginning on 20 January when you become President. You can demand that Israel cease and desist from this destructive course of action, and you have the power to back it up. You can order the suspension of all aid, especially military aid, to the State of Israel. Even the threat of such suspension could convince the Israeli government to stop. But it should not simply be a threat. It needs to happen. Israelís occupation, along with its apartheid-like oppression of the Palestinian Arab people, is the cause of violence in the region, and we know that you know it. The truth was made available to you by your former pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, whom you treated so shabbily. He made the truth available to his congregation at the Trinity United Church of Christ for many years, while you were a member of that congregation. We know that you have conferred with former President Jimmy Carter, whose book Peace Not Apartheid has been reviled by Israeli spokespeople since it first appeared, even though Mr. Carter has never wavered in his support for the State of Israel. Mr. Obama, make the courageous decision: end U.S. aid to Israel. God knows, itís a lot of money that could be put to good use here at home. We could certainly use it here in New Jersey.

My message today is secondly for the people of the United States. Become informed! Learn the truth about the conflict in Palestine. Learn the background history of the region, and if you have the opportunity to meet and talk with people from the region, do so. And then, once you know the truth, let us take action together. Let us join together to demand that our country stop giving money and weapons to Israel, aid which is contributing to the killing. Let us put our united voice behind the message to President-Elect Obama. End all U.S. aid to Israel! Now! Stop using our tax dollars for Israelís war!