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We, the undersigned Directors of the International Council for Middle East Studies (ICMES), join the international community in condemning the recent Israeli military offensive, “Operation Pillar of Defense,” which has involved targeted assassination, attacks on non-military locations, and the killing or injury of at least 1,000 Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip—all illegal acts under international law. These Israeli attacks primarily against an occupied, largely unarmed civilian population are neither warranted nor justified, whether in light of the facts or in view of the alternative avenues available for peaceful resolution to the regional conflict of which Operation Pillar of Defense is emblematic.
We believe that overwhelming U.S. government support for Operation Pillar of Defense has been offered brazenly and prejudicially, without a careful or balanced review of the facts and in blatant disregard for Palestinian perspectives and experiences. Official Israeli military and government reports have been accepted at the expense of such perspectives and experiences, and the objections of a small but significant number of dissenting Israelis have also not been considered. In turn the U.S. mainstream media has supplied a distorted representation of the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories that fosters misinformation and ill-advised reactions, thus further endangering human lives.
In truth, facts about the Israeli offensive are readily available, and a good deal of them contradict information being supplied about it by U.S. government and mainstream media sources. These facts include:
• rockets from Gaza in the current situation were fired only after Israeli military strikes into Gaza, which killed not only a few alleged terrorists but also several Palestinian civilians;
• it was the Israeli government, not the Hamas leadership in Gaza, which shattered an albeit tenuous truce agreed to last week by both sides;
• many more innocent Palestinians in Gaza areas, from which rockets have not been fired, have been killed or injured in recent days than have Israeli Jews, a few of whom have been injured;
• the Israeli government and military continue to keep the 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza under constant threat of siege and segregated in prison-like conditions;
• the vast majority of Palestinians in Gaza, living under Israeli occupation, are severely oppressed, as they have been for years;
• the timing of the Israeli attacks likely signals Israeli political and ideological motivations beyond those suggested by the apparent facts.
Most international human rights organizations, including some comprised primarily of Jewish Israelis, numerous governments, countless observers and commentators, including distinguished scholars, have regularly accumulated these facts and have cited them in documenting their protests against the Israeli government and its actions. It is incumbent upon governments and media to consult the broad range of accessible facts before reporting on a situation of such gravity or advancing a political position regarding it.
In view of the above, we ICMES Directors reject the unconditional U.S. support which has been lent Operation Pillar of Defense, and likewise disapprove of concurrent U.S. mainstream media representation of the Israeli offensive for its one-sided reportage favoring official Israeli explanations and marginalizing when not entirely ignoring Palestinian views and experiences and those of their supporters, sympathizers, and other conscientious objectors in Israel and around the world.
We believe that such ongoing disregard for Palestinian perspectives and explanations, and for the alternative means they and others suggest for resolving the situation, grossly impedes a genuine resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the achievement of a just and lasting peace throughout the region.
Dr. Terri Ginsberg
Dr. Fouzi El-Asmar
Professor Raymond W. Baker
Dr. Ghada Karmi
(Board members, ICMES) Contact: Dr. Terri Ginsberg email@example.com