(Reposted from talkingpointsmemo.com) If I could say two things to President-elect Barack Obama today, I would first express my gratitude for making me proud to be an American again. His campaign and election did that. And, second, I would tell him that he has more opportunity to transform the Middle East than any previous President.
Israel’s attack on the United Nations relief headquarters in Gaza and its use of toxic white phosphorus among civilians are drawing wide condemnation and increasing demands for an immediate cease-fire. Human rights groups say the Israeli actions violate international law.
American groups calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza say phone calls flooding Congress on the issue are having an impact. They urge the public to continue to press for stepped up U.S. involvement to achieve a peaceful solution.
The tiny Gaza Strip, with its 1.5 million people crowded into 139 square miles, has been a tinderbox since Israel’s unilateral pullout in 2005. Israel has maintained a punitive military and economic grip on Gaza, keeping the population in what is internationally condemned as a deepening humanitarian crisis. Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) seized power there in 2007, and pursued its “resistance” policy of firing rockets into southern Israel.
A sampling of reports indicate the shocking toll on civilians in Gaza.
Time to break with disastrous Cold War policies It’s possible a temporary Gaza truce may emerge in the next few days, but, more than ever, the underlying issues will at long last have to be resolved. And the incoming Obama administration will have the challenge, and the opportunity, to lead the way to peace.