Josh Reubner | The Chicago Hearing | 18 April 2010
Does U.S. Policy on Israel and Palestine
Uphold Our Values?
In the 2008 Presidential elections Americans voted for hope
and change by electing Barack Obama. Many of us who had
been working tirelessly for a just peace in the region saw a
glimmer of hope that the Obama administration signaled a new era in U.S. policy. But after witnessing the stonewalling of a serious investigation into Israel’s war on Gaza during the winter of 2008/2009, we knew that it was time for a more ambitious attempt to open a discussion on this issue with more Americans.
Rather than wait for Congress to debate the morality and utility of U.S. policy towards
Israel and Palestine, American Friends Service Committee held an independent hearing, calling upon people who have directly experienced or witnessed the effects of the occupation to tell their stories.
They invited Israelis, Palestinians and Americans to testify and assembled a distinguished
panel of listeners, composed of academics, clergy and a Senate staff member, to question
and draw out the ramifications of these testimonies. They sought to lift up the voices and
hopes of those people who are never seen on television or discussed with compassion in
The Hearing was planned to follow Tax Day, when Americans everywhere are thinking
about how and where their tax dollars are being spent. And, symbolically, in an effort to
connect hopes and expectations with the need to change course, organizers chose a location in President Obama’s Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park.
Just weeks before the Hearing, General David Petraeus testified in Congress that perceived
U.S. favoritism towards Israel was endangering American soldiers abroad and fomenting
anti-American sentiment. This was seen as a further sign that the time had come to bring
this issue to a large public forum, not only to consider whether U.S. policy is in our
interests, but also whether that policy in fact upholds American values.
Download the report of The Chicago Hearing, a very readable and revealing look at what US Policy and funding is supporting in Israel and Palestine, with excellent illustrations in charts, maps and photos: The Chicago Hearing Report (4.2 MB)
Below you can watch videos, a few minutes each, which are highlights of the Hearing in topic-specific segments: