An Open Letter to My Governor Pataki

Edna Yaghi’s Column

Governor: My father suffered all his life from wounds he received during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The Purple Heart he got stood for his valor and the principles he believed in. He considered it an honor to serve his country. Many men like my father were wounded during the War. Many more died.

The American dead and wounded sacrificed themselves so that all Americans could remain free. My own ancestors immigrated to America in search of a better life. My maternal grandparents came from Sweden and built their home in Montana. My paternal grandparents immigrated from Germany way before the two world wars began in the minds of men.

I grew up with the idea ingrained in me that all men are created equal and that all are entitled to the same inalienable rights. Every man loves to be free and men throughout history have died in the name of liberty. Our forefathers bravely fought on our early hillsides and fields so that all Americans could be free from British tyranny.

Later, our forefathers fought against one another so that no man would live in chains or lose his dignity or his integrity.

In the speech you delivered on the 136th Anniversary of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, you spoke of why liberty is such a personal experience for Americans. I quote you when you stated, é”we deserve equal rights and we know that we cannot justly deny those rights to any person.”

Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence and in this declaration the idea that he put forward was that it is “self-evident that all men are created equalé” It was for these self-evident truths that Abraham Lincoln decided to go to war against the slave-holding southern states, so he could preserve the union and so all Americans would be free.

But I disagree with you that Lincoln’s spirit is as “alive today as it ever was.”

You are the proof that his spirit is dead. You are proof that Americans no longer cherish the ideals that our forefathers once so courageously fought for. You have convinced all those people everywhere who believe in the song of every man, which is the song of hope, the song of freedom, and the song of peace, that America no longer upholds the ideals that all men are created equal and that all are entitled to the same inalienable rights.

You are planning a visit to Israel to express your solidarity with the Israelis against the Palestinian people. Israel was founded on the blood and bodies of the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine. Israel was created on the homes, fields and valleys of the rightful owners of the land. Invading Jews from Europe came to plunder and purge the Palestinian people and with Jewish massacres of the Palestinians, drove out the native inhabitants to other countries, or to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. At present, the Palestinians live on 8 percent of their original land but are still occupied by a foreign and alien power.

It is in the name of freedom and liberty that little Palestinian children throw stones. They are the infant Davids fighting against the heavily armed war-state Goliath. Yet, you call these freedom fighters, who struggle for the same ideals that our forefathers did, terrorists.

Israeli tanks station themselves on Palestinian hilltops and shoot at children who cast their stones so that they can be free. A stone is met with an Israeli bullet aimed at the heart or head of a demonstrator. More than 500 Palestinians have been killed and more than 13,000 have been injured. Many of the dead were children. Many of the injured, also children, will have to live the rest of their lives trying to deal with permanent disabilities.

You apparently endorse the Israeli siege of Palestinian cities and villages. You must not mind the fact that Palestinian areas are divided into sections A, B, and C. You don’t mind the fact that what the Palestinians are forced to live in are worse than Bantustans. They live in concentration camps while Jews squat on their land. It is apparently OK if F-16 American made jets bomb Palestinian civilian targets and if Apache helicopters detonate homes of anyone Israelis please. It is OK to shell women and kill them in the middle of the night and it is permissible if at Israeli checkpoints on Palestinian land, people in dire need of emergency medical care are denied passage and die before they can be treated. You are outraged if when in desperation a lone suicide bomber straps explosives onto himself because he can no longer stand seeing his friends and relatives shot dead around him. You would not mind if Israel retaliates by air, land and sea against helpless Palestinian civilians who are cut off from the rest of the world and have no means of defending themselves. What is happening is not a war between two equally armed parties but a genocide against civilians.

Is it because your version of liberty is only for you and your associates? Do you think that Palestinians have no rights as human beings? When rows and rows of Palestinian dead are carried off in funeral processions, do you not see the tears of Palestinian mothers, sisters, wives and daughters of the deceased? Can’t you hear them cry?

Is it ok with you if Israel demolishes homes and uproots trees and destroys farms simply because the owners are Palestinian? No American would put up with what you expect the Palestinians to. Do you value the life of a Jew simply because he or she is a Jew and do you devalue the life of a Palestinian simply because he or she is Arab?

Is it the Jewish vote that you are worried about? Have you sold your soul and the values that our fathers and forefathers died for just so you can continue to reign as governor of New York? Is it really worth it?

As long as you support Israeli brutality, the blood of the innocents stains your hands. I think it is time you stood up for what is right rather than for the vote that will keep you in office. Palestinians have legitimate complaints. I suggest that you listen to them before you contemplate rushing off to Israel and patting Ariel Sharon on the back for murdering Palestinian women and children on the money supplied by New York taxpayers.

Palestinians deserve equal rights and you know that you cannot justly deny those rights to any person.