Tag Archives: Elizabeth Warren

Congress is no longer in lockstep with Israel and AIPAC!

Betty McCollum

Rep. Betty McCollum 

Israel used to be a “safe” bipartisan issue for members of Congress to rally behind.  Israel’s lobbying arm in Washington (AIPAC) proudly touted this broad support.

If any members of Congress had the courage not to join in AIPAC’s love-fest for Israel, they merely abstained from voting.  Certainly, a vote in opposition was unthinkable.

No more.

The support for the State of Israel has been slowly eroding over the years, but this summer it appears the dam has broken.

On June 30, thirteen members of Congress (all Democrats) sent a letter to Secretary of State Pompeo urging him to stop Israel’s planned annexation of a large part of the West Bank.

We write to you to express our deep concern over the planned annexation of occupied Palestinian territory by the government of Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said annexation could begin as early as July 1, 2020. Should the Israeli government move forward with these plans, they would actively harm prospects for a future in which all Israelis and Palestinians can live with full equality, human rights and dignity, and would lay the groundwork for Israel becoming an apartheid state, as your predecessor John Kerry warned in 2014.

We call on you to take all necessary action available to reverse course on this proposal, which will cause more tension and conflict for decades to come. While the full scope and details of the plan are not yet public, Palestinians have overwhelmingly rejected the idea of annexation, and have understandably refused to participate in a process that is not grounded in a recognition of their national rights under international law.

Spearheaded by Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Betty McCollum, D-Minn., and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., they ended with strong words.

Should the Israeli government continue down this path, we will work to ensure non-recognition of annexed territories as well as pursue legislation that conditions the $3.8 billion in U.S. military funding to Israel to ensure that U.S. taxpayers are not supporting annexation in any way. We will include human rights conditions and the withholding of funds for the offshore procurement of Israeli weapons equal to or exceeding the amount the Israeli government spends annually to fund settlements, as well as the policies and practices that sustain and enable them.

Read the entire letter here.  The other House signatories to the letter included Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., André Carson, D-Ind., Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y., Bobby Rush, D-Ill., Jesús “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., Danny Davis, D-Ill., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.  Reach out to thank them for their courage for standing up for human rights and international law.  I’m writing my Congresswoman from New Mexico and asking her to join them.

This simple letter didn’t happen without years of advocacy work by many groups and individuals, including IfNotNow, CODEPINK, Jewish Voice for Peace, Defense for Children International-Palestine, Rebuilding Alliance, the Rachel Corrie Foundation, the Middle East Children’s Alliance, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Constitutional Rights and more.  AIPAC is no longer the behemoth I  thought it was!

Then a few days later, this happened . . . .

On July 2, thirteen Senators filed an amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)  to prohibit Israel from using U.S. security assistance funds to unilaterally annex Palestinian territory in the West Bank. My two US Senators from New Mexico were part of this group.  I’m so proud of them!  I’m writing thank you letters today.

In addition to Senators Udall and Heinrich, the amendment was sponsored by Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).  The text of the amendment is here.  It’s short and sweet.

None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by the United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2020, this Act, or any other Act enacted before the date of the enactment of this Act, or otherwise made available for the Department of Defense, may be obligated or expended to deploy, or support the deployment of, United States defense articles, services, or training to territories in the West Bank unilaterally annexed by Israel after July 1, 2020, or to facilitate the unilateral annexation of such territories.

I heard a strong organizer – activist, Raed Jarrar, speak on Friday about these recent actions in Congress, and I knew immediately the significance of this watershed moment. Once the genie is out of the bottle, there’s no putting her back in.

If you’re interested in talking with your members of Congress about these issues, sign up for the Virtual: 6th Annual Palestine Advocacy Day (September 14-18, 2020) here.

And check out Raed Jarrar’s commentary on this Facebook livestream from Friday.

RefaatandRawan

Refaat Alareer and Rawan Yaghi meet with Congresswoman Lujan-Grisham (D-NM) in 2014

 

 

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Elizabeth Warren is a rock star!

Senator Elizabeth Warren came to Albuquerque yesterday to help Senator Tom Udall with his challenging fundraising campaign.  Following their upscale reception in a ritzy home with 70+ large donors, they stopped by Morningside Park to hob nob with the rest of us — the solidly 99%.

200-250 Dem supporters gathered at Morningside Park

200-250 Dem supporters gathered at Morningside Park in Albuquerque – October 1, 2014

I attended because I was hoping to present Denny Cormier’s letter to both Warren and Udall, but I failed. Couldn’t get close enough to either of them. So I gave Denny’s letter to Udall’s staff and I hope it will get into his hands, and he will read it.  You can read Denny’s letter here. And if you want to help get his letter into the hands of your member of Congress, check-in here.

Debra Haaland, running for Lt. Gov., introduced Representative Michelle Lujan-Grisham, who introduced Senator Udall, who introduced Senator Warren. There was no mistake — everyone was there to hear Senator Warren.

Debra Haaland, candidate for Lt. Gov.

Debra Haaland, candidate for Lt. Governor of New Mexico 

Representative Michelle Lujan-Grisham running for reelection.

Representative Michelle Lujan-Grisham running for reelection.

Senator Tom Udall (l.) running for reelection

Senator Tom Udall (l.) running for reelection and Gary King on far right running for Governor

Senator Warren shared a very populist message, repeating her themes about holding Wall Street bankers accountable, and returning America to the country that works for everyone, not just the wealthy powerful elites. The audience cheered and applauded many times (I lost count!).

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While Senator Warren was speaking, two men with (Un)Occupy Albuquerque walked in front of her with a large sign. “Israel Out of Palestine!”  They were shouting but quickly removed by security.

Protesters carry large banner in front of Senator Warren

Protesters carry large banner in front of Senator Warren

Senator Warren continued unflustered, but she couldn’t unring a bell that has rung. I saw many people in the audience who nodded in approval and support of the two demonstrators who had the courage to confront Warren for her recent comments defending Israel’s shelling of hospitals and schools in Gaza. Liberals, at least some that I talk with, are very disappointed with Warren’s apparent lockstep with AIPAC’s position. Here’s what Warren said in August:

“I think the vote was right, and I’ll tell you why I think the vote was right,” [Warren] said. “America has a very special relationship with Israel. Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren’t many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law. And we very much need an ally in that part of the world.”

Warren said Hamas has attacked Israel ‘indiscriminately,’ but with the Iron Dome defense system, the missiles have “not had the terrorist effect Hamas hoped for.” When pressed by another member of the crowd about civilian casualties from Israel’s attacks, Warren said she believes those casualties are the “last thing Israel wants.”

“But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself,” Warren said, drawing applause.

These are words straight from AIPAC’s messaging this summer, straight as an arrow — “Hamas was the aggressor.”  “Hamas was using its women and children as shields to protect its rockets.”  “Hamas is the terrorist in this combat, and Israel is merely defending herself.”  I wouldn’t be surprised if she heard some of this same baloney in Congressional briefings by the State Department.

She’s a smart woman, an independent thinker. I think she’s still educable on the issue. I recently sent her a letter and a book “Gaza Writes Back” — I haven’t given up on her . . . yet.

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren

But I certainly have given up on Hillary Clinton. She will never get my vote for anything even if The Atlantic thinks her hawkish views won’t upset the Democratic base.  Maybe I’m no longer part of that base, or maybe someone is just making a serious miscalculation. It’s time for the Democrats to stand for justice, not just in words but in deeds and in how we allocate our federal budget.

And KUDOS to those two young men who stood up with that pro-Palestine banner. It takes courage and I applaud them.

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