Oprah: Visit Occupied Territories & Support the Oppressed
Joint Advocacy Initiative; The East Jerusalem YMCA / YWCA of Palestine; Building a National Voice for Palestinian Canadians;
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We are aware that you are planning to travel to "Israel for a solidarity visit". Israel's UN Ambassador, Danny Gillerman, said that a 'visit of a figure with such influence on the international media could help bring an end to the indifference towards the terror threat faced by Israelis'. This statement as well as your visit is troubling, frustrating and confusing. You are renowned for standing for peace and supporting the weak and oppressed. As we all hailed the downfall of apartheid in South Africa and defended the God given right for all people to live together with equal rights, how can the world idly watch the continued building of the apartheid wall in Palestine? How can the world stay quiet about the thousands of men, women and children who are continuously tortured and confined in Israeli prisons? According to all international bodies worldwide (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, United Nations etc.), under international law, the Israeli settlement policies and the whole occupation is illegal and must come to an end. One of the greatest leaders of our time, Nelson Mandela, once said, "Palestinians are not struggling for a state but for freedom, liberation and equality, just like we were struggling for freedom in South Africa. Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children."
The Arab-Israeli conflict has a long and complicated history filled with bloodshed, destruction and injustice. We only ask that you read some of the articles that we have attached to give you an idea about the other, less publicized, side. You have always epitomized truth and justice with such integrity - we are hopeful that you will not allow yourself to only see one side of a story - no matter the circumstances! During your visit, please go visit cities like Gaza, Hebron, and Jenin in order to witness a life that is inhumane and, as a result, worthless to those enduring such humiliation. We hope that you will visit the Palestinian women and children who are taunted, raped, tortured, dehumanized and killed everyday while they guard their homes and families from daily warfare. You will be amazed by the hope most of these people still have - their faith in God is great.
We hope you re-consider the basis for your visit. We wish Oprah to promote peace and co-habitation amongst Israelis and Palestinians. We hope that you will not ignore the massacre of thousands of innocent, unnamed Palestinian men, women and children. Israel is blatantly carrying out a massive genocide, not to mention violations of basic human rights. There is a dire need for fair representation. If no one will bring it to the forefront, we only ask that you be honest with yourself by basing your visit on solidarity for the Middle East - inclusive of Palestinians. Be objective and ask yourself, who is oppressed? Who is terrorized? In short, Oprah, we hope that you seek truth.
With all our respect and hope, Seekers of peace and justice: FRIENDS OF PALESTINE