An open letter to Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. leaders

January 6, 2009

Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel
Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority
Khaled Mashal, Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau
George W. Bush, President of the United States

Dear Prime Minister Olmert, President Abbas, Chairman Mashal and President Bush:

The current situation in the Gaza is unconscionable. Some 1.5 million civilians are trapped in a tiny strip of land — while bombs fall from the sky and proud leaders refuse to talk to one another.

You are all political leaders – charged with the responsibility for diplomacy. The time for pointing fingers has long passed. The time for talking face-to-face is now — not after this or that condition is first met. In the name of God who created us as one family, I beg you to stop this insanity and to recognize the common humanity that binds us together in spite of our differences. There are Arab and European leaders who stand ready to facilitate your conversations.

The escalating violence threatens the security and peace of all peoples in the region. I appeal to you to do everything in your power to stop the killing, respond to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and address the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Violence and terror are wrong in all their forms. Palestinians should not live under military occupation or economic siege, nor have their lands taken for illegal Israeli settlements. Israeli mothers should not live in fear of Hamas rocket or suicide bomb attacks. Children in Gaza should not be subject to Israeli artillery, bomb, missile and rocket attacks – all fired in the name of stopping rocket attacks! This is an absurd and lose-lose cycle of violence. No one will win this high-stakes game.

I am a U.S. citizen currently working for an international humanitarian agency in the Middle East. Three days ago, I began a liquids-only fast. I plan to continue fasting until this warring madness stops. I pray that you will have the courage to act now for peace.

J. Daryl Byler
Amman, Jordan

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