By Dan Fleshler | February 4, 2010
Americans for Peace Now and J Street joined five other groups in a letter that urges Obama to “use America’s unique relationship with Israel to persuade it to lift the closure of its border crossing with Gaza now.” Bravo, folks!
Israel’s closure policies, rather than weakening Hamas as Israel had hoped, have helped Hamas tighten its authoritarian grip over Gaza and its economy. While many Gazans are unhappy with Hamas, there is no evidence that Gazans will overthrow Hamas to end their suffering. Instead, their anger is directed at Israel, the U.S., and the international community…
As for the alleged benefits to security from Israel’s closure policy, the opposite has proven true. As you said in your Cairo speech, “Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security.” In recent months, sporadic rocket fire into southern Israel has resumed. A generation of jobless Gazan youths – 70% of Gazans are under 30 – lacking any hope for the future, are ripe for further radicalization and violence. Already, more-extreme Al Qaeda-type elements are challenging Hamas, and Al Qaeda is effectively exploiting the plight of Gazans throughout the Arab and Muslim world. The prospect for renewed major violence is real.
In addition to Americans for Peace Now and J Street, the organizations were the Foundation for Middle East Peace, Arab American Institute, Churches for Middle East Peace, B’Tselem and Rabbis for Human Rights.