Dear Mr. President,
138 to 9 with 41 abstentions. Not even close. In spite of intense lobbying, the only countries you could muster to keep Palestine from gaining observer status in the UN was Canada (our lapdog neighbor to the north), the Czech Republic, Palau, Panama, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Nauru (I had to look that one up–pop. 9,322). Israel cooked their own goose with the latest 8-day onslaught of Gaza; the world just couldn’t keep looking the other way at Israel’s genocide of Palestinians, their occupation of the West Bank, their land grabs and illegal settlements, their systemic destruction of UN-sponsored humanitarian projects such as solar powered electricity, and their 6-year blockade of Gaza. Predictably, our UN ambassador, Susan Rice dismissed the vote and claimed “…the prospects of a durable peace… only receded.” Senator Lindsey Graham called it “an unhealthy step that could undermine the peace process,” while Netanyahu ranted and denounced Abbas’s speech as “…a defamatory and venomous speech that was full of mendacious propaganda against the Israel Defense Forces and the citizens of Israel,” A few hours later, the Israeli Security cabinet, headed by Bibi, announced 3,000 new homes will be built–in illegal settlements–in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and more are being considered, clearly retribution for the UN vote. But in spite of all the bluster by the U.S. and Israel, this is a major step in ending the injustice and violent occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. What does it mean for the blockade and ethnic cleansing of Gaza? What about the expropriation of Palestinian land? And most frightening to Israel, what if Palestine joins the ICC and brings charges of war crimes against them? This is a new ball game, Mr. President, and you’re on the wrong side of history. You’re on the wrong side of justice, of freedom, of human rights and the rule of law—and not just with Israel and Palestine, but also in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia—and right here at home. Rice said of the UN vote: "Today's unfortunate and counter-productive resolution places further obstacles in the path to peace. That is why the United States voted against it," No, that’s not why the U.S. voted against. We have a long history of backing tyrants and dictators and condoning crimes against humanity and you continue that sad legacy. The mantle of justice and freedom is no longer ours; you had an opportunity to regain it but you chose war and violence instead.