Community Perspective: An open letter to Virginia Senator Tim Kaine

A contributed perspectives piece by Holly Herr Stravers

Dear Senator Kaine,

My name is Holly Herr Stravers and I am a resident of Harrisonburg, Virginia. I am writing to ask you, to implore you, to take action to stop the genocidal acts of Israel toward the Palestinian people. As of this morning, per the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 31,341 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza. Per the same office 73,134 have been injured. This does not include the thousands unaccounted for because their bodies are trapped under the rubble. We know that hospitals, churches, schools and homes are being bombed, that people are being shot by IDF snipers en route from one place to another in search of safety where none exists. We know there  is little to no medical care for the thousands of wounded and dying Palestinians. Amputations and cesarean sections are being performed with no pain medication, no anesthesia. People are in the open air with severe burns and traumatic wounds.

Activists hold signs proesting the war in Gaza during an early campaign stop for Virginia Senator Tim Kaine in Harrisonburg on March 9. Photo by Bridget Manley.

On December 15, 2023 Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a resolution, in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act, to investigate Israeli conduct in its war on Gaza and the legal implications for continued U.S. funding of this war. Senator Kaine, you did not support this resolution. One can only conclude that you support giving Israel carte blanche to wage war on Gaza with no regard to human rights or international humanitarian law. The U.S. provides Israel with 3.8 billion dollars a year. An additional 14.5 billion dollars has been given to fund this sadistic campaign to annihilate the people of Gaza. The U.S. is not only complicit in the brutal and indiscriminate destruction of the people, life, and history of Gaza, we are the perpetrators of this humanitarian cataclysm. 

Senator Kaine, families in Gaza are literally piecing together their loved ones for burial; clutching what remains of their babies, their children, their mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, grandparents. Why does this continue? Why is the U.S. government supporting this? What did the citizens of Gaza do to deserve 5 months of hell on earth with no end in sight? Do you know that as a direct result of Israel’s blockade on aid at the border and within Gaza that children are dying of starvation, that people are eating animal feed, leaves, weeds and street animals to survive? There are not even places  to urinate or defecate that are private or sanitary. 

Senator Kaine, I know that you have accepted $553,961 from the pro-Israel lobby between 1990 and 2024. This is public information. Are you not speaking out firmly against this lawless and barbaric attack on Gaza for fear of political repercussions? Do you believe in the right of Palestinian people to exist? Do you believe in human rights, in morality and ethics? These are genuine questions Senator Kaine. I am at a loss to understand why you are supporting Israel’s destruction of Gaza. 

I will close with several requests. First, please call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza and a release of Palestinian political prisoners. A release of Israeli hostages does not need to be requested because I know you support this, as do I. Please vote NO on any new bill that includes military aid to Israel, as the evidence that Israel is violating international humanitarian law is irrefutable. Finally, please insist that Israel immediately and dramatically expand humanitarian access and facilitate safe aid deliveries throughout Gaza. The existence of an entire people, of the Palestinian people, depends on you taking action that acknowledges  their humanity. 

Holly Herr Stravers lives in Harrisonburg.

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