We have good reason to believe your hosts in Seattle wish to instill or reinforce in you the sense that the wounds you received were for a good cause—to protect Jews in Israel and here from an existential threat. From the safety of Seattle, far from the battlefield, they want to bolster your morale so that you won't go too far with your questions. They would like you to bury those questions deep down in the recesses of your mind but please consider a letter in the United Nations archives from rabbis of the "old yishuv" in Jerusalem. It is July 1949, less than two years after the proclamation of the State of Israel and less than nine months after the conclusion of armistice agreements. Jerusalem is still divided with the Old City, Gaza, and the West Bank under Arab control. Yet, who do these orthodox Jewish rabbis complain about and appeal for protection from? Not Arabs, not Christians or Muslims, but Zionists and the Zionist state—Israel.
We have learned that in every war wounded and traumatized soldiers return home and the people who start and perpetuate wars worry that those returning soldiers will arrive at the awful truth about war. They worry you will start telling the awful truth to others who are fodder for the meat grinder of modern warfare. They fear you will expose their game. In the simple words of one of America's most decorated Marines, Major General Smedley Butler: "War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious."
Our message to you is simple: Your wars against the Palestinians and other people in the countries near Israel are wrong, just as wrong as the wars American troops fight in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. As you fight because of the poisonous ideology of Zionism, Americans go to war because of the poisonous ideology of Empire. Physical courage in battle is noble but it is no substitute for the ethical courage that is required of veterans and all of us to end the killing. The self-interested fawning praise of others far from the battlefield will never bring real healing to you for the things you have done and experienced in combat. We bring a message of real hope and healing—not a false "Hope for Heroism"—but hope and healing through reconciliation and understanding.
Michelle J. Kinnucan
On behalf of Veterans For Peace, Greater Seattle, Chapter 92