The Honorable Christopher A. Coons
127A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-0801

Dear Senator Coons,

I write you today to encourage you to fight for retaining aid to the Palestinian people, should a proposal to cut such aid arise. Thank you for all your hard work representing the people of Delaware. I am myself an Amherst and divinity school graduate and a balding family man in my forties, so I feel particularly well represented in the United States Senate at the moment. I enjoyed meeting you at Santosh Viswanathan’s house during your campaign and again when you visited St. Andrew’s School, where I teach religion. I currently am on sabbatical in Jerusalem, having been given a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching to study how the Israeli and Palestinian school systems teach about religion.

I can see you care a great deal about the disadvantaged, from your experiences in Kenya and your work at Amherst and Yale Divinity through your work leading New Castle County to your efforts in the Senate. You also support Israel, as you have said in your statement to AIPAC and your letter encouraging the administration to protect Egypt’s peace with Israel. When you visited students from Congregation Beth Emeth and others on their confirmation (St. Andrew’s School takes our students to visit Beth Emeth every year), you spoke about your freshman year roommate expressing his willingness to die for Israel, and how it revealed to you the importance of Israel to many Americans. Continuing to help the moderate Palestinian cause upholds all of these commitments. It is in the security interest of the Palestinians, the Israelis and the United States.

Cutting United States aid for the Palestinians would harm the security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians. I have visited Ramallah and Bethlehem in the past several weeks, and the presence of well-uniformed and friendly Palestinian police representing the moderate Palestinian Authority is clearly reassuring to Palestinians and visitors alike. While I hope for even greater mobility for the Palestinian people, the cooperation between the PA police and the IDF makes everyday life and economic circumstances for the Palestinians much better than they were in the early 2000s. Consider also the effect of Palestinians getting health care at a clinic renovated by USAID, with its motto “From the American People” clearly present, or the recent educational conference, also sponsored by USAID, encouraging the teaching of critical thinking skills. A healthy, critically minded and secure Palestinian population aware of friendly U.S. intentions – now that is clearly something that is both a humanitarian good and in our best national interest.

For these reasons I request that you support continued aid to the Palestinian people, whatever might take place at the United Nations in the coming weeks. Again, thank you for representing me, Middletown and Delaware in the United States Senate.


Terence Gilheany