Dear Mr. Marles,
I am a U.S. citizen who has worked in the West Bank City of Hebron since 1995 with the human rights organization Christian Peacemaker Teams. I am currently serving with two Australian teammates who brought to my attention a picture of the four you enjoying time in Jerusalem under the caption, “Bringing peace to the Middle East.”
I do not know you, but if I were to see a similarly captioned photo of Democratic and Republican lawmakers from my country in Jerusalem, I would feel it like a kick in the gut. People are dying over here. In our context, it happens most often when soldiers shoot them at checkpoints in extrajudicial executions with complete legal impunity. For years at the checkpoints we monitor in the morning, we have watched Israeli soldiers shoot teargas at small children walking to school—something that you would never tolerate in your own electorates. We cannot count all the other indignities and humiliations we have witnessed this military occupation inflicting on the inhabitants of Hebron—as it is in the nature of all military occupations to do.
And the geographically expansive region of “The Middle East,” to which you referred encompasses the people caught up in the carnage currently engulfing Aleppo, Syria, as well as the violence in Iraq, Yemen, Egypt. These are real human beings, loved by their families, who feel pain when bombs and bullets slice though their flesh, or who who suffer that stab of utter horror when they realize it is their child buried beneath the rubble. In other words, peace in the Middle East is not a joke, Mr. Marles, it is a moral imperative for all people of conscience.
Colleague of [names redacted in order to foil Israeli security officials who think Palestinians have no right to have internationals spend time with them and who have complete control over the borders of Palestine.]