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Can US Congress see beyond the orchestration and opulence in Tel Aviv?

Rev. Carolyn L. Boyd – The Electronic Intifada – 9 September 2011

Americans are frustrated, angry and disappointed in the political leadership of our country. We are enduring one crisis after another: housing, war, jobs, budget, debt and deficit. We are also shouldering our own personal and professional crises. We are governed by political ideologies that are inflexible, uncompromising and that ignore the long-term well-being of our country.

Yet, with all of these pressing and unrelenting national challenges, a record 81 House members, about a fifth of the chamber, spent a week in Israel last month, courtesy of a foundation set up by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest pro-Israel lobby group in the US.

As a participant in the Interfaith Peace-Builders’ African Heritage Delegation to Israel/Palestine, who recently returned from a two-week fact-finding study tour, I can attest that Israelis have their own urgent and pressing issues to deal with: ongoing maintenance of the 63-year-old occupation (yes, it dates to the 1948 ethnic cleansing of approximately 750,000 Palestinians), expensive and unjust military rule over the Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, seized in 1967, massive Israeli youth protests regarding the rising cost of housing, food, and gas, and the ongoing oppression of Jews of color and Palestinians citizens of Israel.

Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., one of the Democrats who visited Israel, said that he was looking forward to learning about Israel’s business and commercial sectors as well as the latest tools and technology the country is using to fight terror, but what did he really see? I doubt he saw and experienced what the 14 members of the African Heritage Delegation witnessed.

More than likely, his delegation saw and experienced the beauty and opulence of Tel Aviv. They enjoyed the finest of foods and perhaps sampled wines from the colonized Golan Heights. They probably witnessed well-orchestrated military exercises and political speeches. I suspect they did not hear, as we did, from Palestinians who are displaced from their homes, whose lands, farms and olive trees have been confiscated or from the mothers who worry about their sons being bullied, abused and imprisoned by the Israeli police using the most technologically advanced counterinsurgency practices.

I’m sure they did not see, as my delegation did, the rationing of water to Palestinians, the daily blackouts of electricity or the lack of health care services to the elderly or those suffering from post-traumatic occupation stress syndrome. No doubt, they did not meet Palestinians, as we did, in Hebron who live each day under the assault of angry, militant Jewish settlers.

Democracy means more than voting rights

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who led one of two Republican delegations, stated, “I am pleased to be bringing so many of our new Members of Congress to Israel so that they can learn firsthand about Israel and the important role our key ally plays in the Middle East. The United States and Israel share similar core values of democracy, human rights and a strong national defense.”

Yet Israel is not living up to the definition of a democracy. Israel has dominated Palestinians for 63 years while illegally occupying the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza for the past 44 years. It routinely denies full participation of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Inside Israel, it is well documented that Jews of color (Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews), African Palestinians and non-Jewish residents are treated as second- and third-class citizens with diminished human and civil rights. Democracy means more than voting rights for Palestinian citizens. There must be equality under the law, yet that is significantly absent in Israel and dramatically lacking in how Israel administers the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

There is simply too much at stake in America for our congressional members to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders without the complete picture of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The situation is vastly different from the one Israel’s prime minister depicted recently to Congress.

What if we stopped the $3 billion in aid?

What if we stopped the $3 billion in aid we give to Israel annually and used the savings to create a national jobs-deficit reduction program? Our African Heritage Delegation believes, as many Americans do, that we need a jobs growth and deficit reduction program here at home now. This is the time to reallocate financial resources to American families and communities and to fix our obsolete, dilapidated infrastructure.

The two-tier system of law Israel has established in the occupied West Bank, documented by Human Rights Watch, recalls the Jim Crow laws of the American South and the discriminatory practices of apartheid South Africa. Our members of Congress should loudly reject such discrimination. And they should spend more time with constituents in dire need of their leadership as well as modeling democratic values in their respective congressional districts.

Rev. Carolyn L. Boyd lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

September 10, 2011 - Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, Wars for Israel

1 Comment

  1. Sure stop all aid, trade, credits, sales, visits, and military alliances with Israel. But, asking money motivated hustling Members of Congress to be critical of Israel, when they are the largest congressional donors; is not in their self-interest, and that is the highest priority!

    If the American People were to vote on that $3billion going to subsidize the Zionist acts of military mass misery and murder of Palestinians and kicking some of it back to bribe/influence our elected “representatives” and with the US Supreme Court in Public Citizen having removed restrictions of buying elections, we have no more to say about electing congress and a president; than dead, except in Chicago.

    National Referendum is the only road to democracy, it is a hard left-turn from the sinkhole of electoral politics, which needs no better example of what a scam, fraud, charade, and exercise in futility it is; than look at the rhetoric of Obama and what has come to pass!

    The best people in this country do not hold public office, they are the “everyday people” (the ones we see everyday) and not the talking heads on TV either. If a referendum was held on these wars of aggression, they would be ended immediately. And that holds true for dozens of issues, none of which any administration or congress will honestly address.

    In fact, tomorrow is the 10 anniversary of the psyop of 9/11. I have been active all along in what is called the 9/11 Truth Movement. I am not satisfied with the movement. In fact, I can’t call it truthful as a group. For there is no doubt the official story is a totally treacherous lie. That an anti-war movement was the necessary response, and there was some, but today the TRUTH must be shouted in every forum, irregardless of decorum, who is speaking, and who objects.

    The 9/11Truth Movement must tell the truth on who the perps of 9/11 are, and not merely the implausibility of the official story, and expect a congressional panel or another commission to get it right, when the 9/11 Truth Movement has not!

    9/11 was planned and executed by the Israelis; with complete and unhampered US government and military co-conspiracy. Those involved who are American citizens (even if dual US-Israeli citizens) committed high treason against the United States and therefore, ‘We, the people’ of the United States. So, who are the traitors? Just about all of them. Need a list… today is a good day to make it! Start with George H.W. Bush and Henry Kissinger, and do not leave out the Clinton gang either!

    Comment by Bill Mitchell | September 10, 2011

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