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What we're doing, and what we must do

January 8, 2009

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Joni Kabana for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Dr. Landrum Bolling. Photo: Joni Kabana for Mercy Corps

I've been involved in efforts to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict for 35 years — as a scholar, as a diplomat, and as president of a Bethlehem institute that promoted interfaith dialogue among Christians, Muslims and Jews. And I can tell you that over those many years, there have been few days in the Middle East as dark as the ones we are now experiencing.

What the Palestinians and the Israelis could have done to deserve such misguided leaders is beyond me. Counterproductive decisions have led to catastrophic consequences for all.

Both sets of leaders seem to believe they can prove the other side is wholly to blame; that they have a right to defend themselves in a way that means killing as many as possible regardless of culpability; and that when they have killed enough, the other side will simply give up, and this long and bloody conflict will be solved.

There is little you or I can do to change this foolish thinking. But what we can and must do is address the humanitarian life-and-death needs of 1.5 million people of Gaza — who are in a most desperate state.

I write you today to ask you to support the vital, desperately needed humanitarian assistance to Gaza. Mercy Corps is one of a handful of the American relief and development agencies still brave enough and stubborn enough to stay on in the midst of chaos. As a senior advisor on programs and policies for Mercy Corps, I can assure you that despite the challenges facing us, we are getting things done.

Our Jerusalem-based staff successfully delivered a truckload of food into Gaza today after many delays. Our team in Gaza has procured blankets, powdered milk and other relief items to distribute to dozens of newly displaced families. And we are helping the voices of Gaza's youth — hundreds of whom participate in our Internet-based cross-cultural exchange program with American teens — be heard on our web site.

Please join me in helping those who desperately need our help. Thank you.