Monday, January 5, 2009

//Dear President-Elect Obama..

January 5, 2009

Dear President-Elect Obama:

I am a public middle school teacher, dj and writer based in Oakland, California. I proudly and passionately voted for you on November 4, 2008 and actively campaigned for others to do the same. I was strongly drawn to your message of Hope and Change, as clearly were millions of other Americans. I was especially impressed with your condemnations of “politics as usual” and “politics of division” and in my heart hoped and believed that your rhetoric would have meaning and action behind it. On Election Day I read about and witnessed the reaction of the entire world, as people not only in the United States, but in all continents seemed emboldened by a new hope, including immigrants, Muslims and Arabs here in the U.S., in the Middle East and worldwide. I felt that the world could be a safer place.

Mr. President-Elect, as I write this Israeli F-16s and Apaches continue to light up the Gaza Strip for the 10th consecutive day of “softening” the ground, as Israeli tanks and infantry march into the territory adding to the toll of 548 known Palestinian deaths, many of them women and children. But you know this already. Your astute observations of world politics, race, religion and conflict are well-documented, from the experiences in your memoir Dreams of My Father to your acceptance speech on Election Night when you made the striking announcement, “I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.” You are a student of the world and surely are knowledgeable of such weighty times as these. At the same time, as shown in your rejection of “politics of fear,” you know that Israel’s campaign is not a “war against terrorism” but an extreme injustice.

Mr. President-Elect, it is far overdue for you to offer your voice concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and your vision for U.S. foreign policy. Tell us, will it be “politics as usual” for the U.S. to support Israel’s campaign under your leadership? Will the U.S. under your administration continue Bush's policy of blaming Hamas or will there be Change? The world knows that the U.S. has considerable weight with the Israeli leaders, and considerable capacity to provide humanitarian aid to the people of the Gaza Strip. We cannot wait for your inauguration to hear what your administration plans to do. If anything, your election began the process of restoring our country’s stature as the “beacon of light” that it was for your father and my Filipino grandfathers and grandmothers. Will your administration show this with your decisions and actions regarding the continuing assault on the Gaza Strip?
The Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak is determined to keep pushing to “reach all the goals that we have set for ourselves.” Mr. President-Elect, the slaughter must be stopped now! Your hands are not tied, your eloquent words--startlingly absent this past week--can make an enormous difference. Your weight as soon-to-be President of the United States must be used. The U.S. must apply resources and political capital to press Israel to immediately cease its campaign and allow humanitarian aid to be provided in the strip. In the long term, your administration must adopt a policy that provides safety and justice for the Palestinian people.

I know that you must be saddened and angered by the events unfolding before us as I am. People across the globe are in the streets. Even French president Sarkozy is in the Middle East as Israel has rejected the European Union’s call for ceasefire. Speak now. The people of the Gaza Strip cannot wait. The world cannot wait.


David S. Maduli
Oakland, CA
sent to the Office of the President-Elect via