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Congressman Barney Frank
2252 Rayburn H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Barney Frank,
While you were espousing the freedom of speech and democratic principles of Israel to the House of Representatives on June 18, 2006, were you thinking of Hedy Epstein, the 84 year old Holocaust survivor and American who recently travelled to Israel and visited with Palestinians there? In your proclamation about the freedom in Israel which you mistakenly represented as the only democracy in the Middle East, were you thinking of how it felt for Hedy to be approached by Israel’s security force when she was leaving the country to return to the US and told she is a terrorist. Were you thinking of how the guards had turned their badges around so that she could not get their names while they forced Hedy to undress, while they penetrated her body, because she is a terrorist, because she met with Palestinians, because she listened to them. Is that the freedom you wish to applaud? To hear how it felt from Hedy herself, if you care, try http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nC37pFQ8tyg .
I know you were not thinking of Professors like Nadera Shaloub Kevorkian, a noted scholar from Hebrew University, awarded for her outstanding research, a recipient of the Golda Meir award even though Golda Meir told us that “there are no Palestinians.” I know you were not thinking of her and how she is subjected to dehumanized searches, seen her children’s photos trampled on by the security, her undergarments twirled like flags in the air for all to see, had her computer and cell phone seized each time she travels outside her country of birth to the many lectures she is invited to give and for the numerous honors bestowed on her. Of course, to Israel and therefore to the American government she would be considered a terrorist. Why? because she is a Palestinian. That is why I know you were not thinking of her when you were standing before the US House of Representatives proclaiming Israel’s democracy as a model of freedom and diversity.
The blatant overt racism against Palestinians I saw in Israel harkened me back to the pre-civil rights US. The guilt-by-association with Palestinians that is alive and thriving in Israel today recalls US McCarthyism. Oh, it is true that women’s rights in Israel have improved and so have gay rights. But to treat that as diversity in the face of the extreme racism that drives the county against Palestinians is for an American Congressman not only dishonorable, but unjust and immoral.
Have you lost your mind or have you just been bought out by AIPAC? I stand with the multitude of Americans who look forward to the day when you and other Representatives and Senators bought by AIPAC discover that your loyalty is really to the United States and to global justice. With all that you have stood for over the years, I expected so much more from you.
Kathleen Barry, Ph.D.
Kathleen Barry is Professor Emerita of Penn State University. A feminist and sociologist, she is the author of Female Sexual Slavery, Prostitution of Sexuality: Global Exploitation of Women, and Susan B. Anthony: A Biography of a Singular Feminist and is now completing Expendable Lives, a new book on masculinity and war. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org