Friday, July 30, 2010

Peace Action Montgomery Responds to Kramer

Peace Action Montgomery has sent the following response to Delegate Ben Kramer's (D-19) criticism of its questionnaire referencing Israel.

July 26, 2010

Delegate Ben Kramer
17511 Applewood Lane
Rockville, MD 20855

Dear Delegate Kramer:
We are responding to your July 20 letter that criticized a candidate questionnaire created and distributed by Peace Action Montgomery, as well as the motives and values of our organization.

Before we respond to your specific complaints, we would like to present our beliefs and goals, as stated on our Web site:

Our Beliefs
Military intervention is not a suitable response to conflict.
Ordinary people can change the world.

Our Goals
Peace in the Middle East
• An end to current U.S.‐led and U.S.‐funded military occupations (Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine)
• Prevention of future wars (such as in Pakistan or Iran)
• Reparations and developmental aid for victims

A Peace Economy at Home
• Reduced military spending and an end to war profiteering
• Restrictions on military recruitment in schools, replaced by real economic opportunities for youth
• Generous benefits for veterans

Peace through Human Rights and International Cooperation
• Robust international diplomacy
• Protection of civil and human rights, including an end to torture
• Full, independent investigations of violations to the rule of law

Our questionnaire to candidates for state office, sent out July 16 and 17, is in keeping with our stated goals (see enclosed questionnaire). The five questions focus on issues that are within the purview of state‐level officials. For all questions, candidates were asked to respond “yes” or “no” and offered the opportunity to explain or qualify their responses.

The one question to which you took great exception cited International Court of Justice rulings that Israel’s separation wall and settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal and asked candidates if they would support a bill to order the state’s pension system to divest from holdings in companies that knowingly participate in these illegal activities.

Instead of answering any of the questions, you wrote us a letter in which you stated that you not only rejected our “less than subtle anti‐zionist, anti‐semitic ‘questionnaire,’ ” but that you would also encourage your fellow candidates in Montgomery County and across the state to reject it as well.

Passions run high on this issue, but that is no excuse for calling a group like Peace Action Montgomery anti‐Semitic. We vehemently oppose anti‐Semitism and bigotry and are offended at being defamed for our support for human rights. Just as opposing the war in Afghanistan does not make us anti‐American, opposing Israeli government policies does not make us anti‐Semitic.

Would you call anti‐Semitic the 60 percent of the Israeli general public who in a poll conducted in early March 2010 supported “dismantling most of the settlements in the territories as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians”? (Poll conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace.)

Peace in the Middle East is one of Peace Action Montgomery’s major goals. We assume that you, too, desire peace in the Middle East. We therefore invite you to join us in a public debate on the issue of how best to advance a just resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. We plan to propose the same idea to the Washington Jewish Week, which also received your letter to us, and invite them to co‐moderate the event, along with a representative of another organization.

We sincerely hope that you will accept this proposal for a much‐needed forum for dialogue on this significant issue. We look forward to hearing from you.


Jean Athey, coordinator
Peace Action Montgomery

cc: Washington Jewish Week