An open letter to state Sen. President Stanley Rosenberg and state Sens. Ben Downing, Anne Gobi, John Keenan, Barbara L’Italien, Karen Spilka, Michael Barrett, Eileen Donoghue, Richard Ross, and Dan Wolf:
I write as a member of the Boston Alliance for Water Justice and as a Jewish American, a resident of Jamaica Plain, and a Massachusetts taxpayer. For many years, I have been critical of Israel’s repressive treatment of Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza, refugee camps elsewhere in the Middle East and the 20 percent of Israelis who are Palestinian.
Last week, over 1,200 Massachusetts taxpayers signed a petition that was delivered to you at your State House office on Nov. 23. That petition asked you not to go on your scheduled trip to Israel that will be paid for by two pro-Israel organizations that falsely claim to represent the Jewish community and that seek your support for greater ties between Israel and Massachusetts.
I traveled to the West Bank on a peace-oriented delegation 10 years ago and witnessed living conditions in refugee camps and Hebron that were very difficult but have since deteriorated immeasurably. The situation for many is desperate.
Palestinians suffer from military occupation; lack of free movement because of separation walls and checkpoints; too little medical care; high unemployment; and insufficient clean water, their aquifers having been expropriated by Israel. It is the latter unjust denial of a basic human right, and former Governor Patrick’s interest in promoting Massachusetts business alliances with Israeli private water companies that galvanized the formation of our Alliance.
Again, I urge that you not take this trip. If you do, be aware that you are being exposed to only certain aspects of Israeli society. Please meet with representatives of Israeli human rights organizations like B’tselem. Visit refugee camps on the West Bank and speak with Palestinians. By doing so, you will experience the checkpoints, travel the segregated highways, and witness the ever-present Israeli military. You can also meet dedicated, principled people who strive for a wholesome life for their people and for peace.
Marguerite G. Rosenthal