Tag Archives: Tom Udall

Words matter! S.Res.176

Dear Senators Udall and Heinrich,

Disappointment and frustration.

A half-century after the Six-Day War which culminated in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, it is extremely disappointing that the U.S. Senate continues to succumb to Israel’s revisionist history (propaganda).

Your support for S.Res.176, A Resolution Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem, along with your colleagues, is further evidence that the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) may achieve by unilateral and incremental steps, what Israel failed to do in 1967-1968.

The Palestinians consider East Jerusalem the capital of their future state. The United Nations, the vast majority of countries, and international law, support this interpretation of history. Your resolution does violence to the truth and to international law.

Israel never “reunified” Jerusalem, as your resolution proclaims, but occupied East Jerusalem and then began drawing municipal borders to strengthen Israel’s sovereignty over the city by creating a Jewish majority. The legal status of the City of Jerusalem is clear. Under international law, Israel occupies East Jerusalem.

S.Res.176 fails to mention the occupation and the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem who are not even granted citizenship in Israel but rather permanent resident status. In a precedent-setting case, the Supreme Court of Israel ruled earlier this year that the permanent residents of East Jerusalem deserve better.

Last year I visited East Jerusalem. It’s like night and day between the Jewish settlements and the Palestinian neighborhoods. One has green lawns and swimming pools while the other struggles to live on about half the amount of water recommended by the World Health Organization.  One has new schools and playgrounds with equipment for their children, while the other hasn’t had any new classrooms built in many years. Mothers are now holding classes in their homes.

In 2011, the High Court of Justice ruled that over the next five years, the Education Ministry and municipality must build enough classrooms in the public school system for all East Jerusalem students.  … Yet the latest report by the Ir Amim organization says the problem has only gotten worse: East Jerusalem currently lacks 2,247 classrooms, compared to about 1,500 when the High Court petition was filed in 2007. Over the past five years, only some 35 classrooms a year have been built – less than the number needed to accommodate the population’s natural growth.”

The State of Israel has been creating its “facts on the ground,” moving Jewish settlers into East Jerusalem and forcibly displacing Palestinian families out of East Jerusalem.

I encourage you and your staff to watch these two short amateur videos about life in East Jerusalem. In the first, an Israeli activist talks about why she supports the Palestinians in East Jerusalem. In the second, children show how settlers have taken over the front part of their home, and the family continues to live in the back.  Other families were thrown out into the street. Israeli, international and Palestinian activists, Sara Benninga among them, have started a growing solidarity movement and demonstrate there weekly to oppose the injustice of Israel accepting pre-1948 ownership claims by Jews, but not by Palestinians.

S.Res.176 reaffirms that it is the longstanding, bipartisan policy of the United States Government that the permanent status of Jerusalem remains a matter to be decided between the parties through final status negotiations towards a two-state solution; and yet the very title and preamble clauses state unambiguously that Jerusalem is undivided and belongs to Israel, with no mention of Palestinians and their aspirations for East Jerusalem.

Words matter!  Even nonbinding resolutions matter!  Please take note of that fact and don’t add your name to such propaganda in the future.

Sincerely,

Lora Lucero

P.S. This Thursday, June 8, you have an opportunity to hear from experts at a briefing on Capitol Hill sponsored by Defense for Children International – Palestine & American Friends Service Committee. Congressional Briefing: 50 Years of Israeli Military Occupation & Life for Palestinian Children. Please plan to attend or send a staff person.

Thursday June 8, 2017
9:30AM – 11:00AM EST

Cannon House Office Building, Rm 122
27 Independence Ave, SE,
Washington, DC 20003

UPDATE – June 9, 2017 – Response received from Senator Tom Udall. I wonder if writing to our elected officials in DC makes any difference.

Dear Ms. Lucero,

Thank you for your comments regarding S. Res. 176, a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.

On May 24, 2017, Senators Mitch McConnell (KY) and Charles Schumer (NY) introduced S. Res. 176. Upon introduction the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. On May 25, 2017, the resolution was passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. On June 5, 2017, the resolution was passed in the Senate by a vote of 90 to Zero, with my vote in favor. I value receiving feedback from my constituents, and I appreciate your taking the time to keep me informed. Your help allows me to more effectively represent you in the U.S. Senate.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me.  Please feel free to contact me with your concerns regarding any federal issue by visiting my website at www.tomudall.senate.gov.  For more information, you may also visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/senatortomudall and receive up to the minute updates through my Twitter page at http://twitter.com/senatortomudall.

Very truly yours,
Signature
Tom Udall
United States Senator

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Israel, Media, Occupation, People, Politics, Settlers, Uncategorized, US Policy

Senators should not build unity on the backs of Palestinians

When do U.S. Senators stand lockstep together?

When the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) convinces them that the United Nations is biased against the State of Israel.

The Wall Street Journal notes:

It’s rare, especially these days, for all 100 U.S. Senators—from Bernie Sanders to Ted Cruz, from Elizabeth Warren to Mitch McConnell—to agree on something. But the scourge of anti-Israel bias at the United Nations is such an issue.

So all of them, including Senators Warren, Sanders, and my two Senators from New Mexico signed on to the letter undoubtedly written by AIPAC, the pro-Israeli lobbying operation ensconced in Washington DC.

The letter is a warning note to Secretary-General Guterres – “reform your agencies from within or pay the consequences.”

Although, as Republicans and Democrats, we disagree on many issues, we are united in our desire to see the United Nations improve its treatment of Israel and to eliminate anti-Semitism in all its forms.

My response sent to my two U.S. Senators follows.  I hope they hear from many other constituents.

May 10, 2017

RE:   April 27 letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres – Israel & Palestine

Dear Senators Udall and Heinrich,

I’m very disappointed with your signatures on the letter (likely drafted by AIPAC) to the United Nations regarding Israel.

Senator Martin Heinrich

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

You, along with your colleagues in the Senate, have adopted Israel’s strategy of deflecting legitimate and worldwide criticism of Israel’s brutal 50-year occupation by focusing criticism on the messenger, the United Nations. We’ve all seen this same “strategy of deflection” coming from the White House in the form of childish Tweets. Your letter is just as childish.

Threatening the United Nations and demanding internal “reforms,” based on false assertions that the U.N. is unfairly targeting Israel, belies the fact that the community of nations stand together in their condemnation of Israel’s long-term, illegal occupation of Palestine.

A quick online review of recent actions in the United Nations reveals that the U.S. stands alone with the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau (and sometimes Canada) in supporting Israel in the U.N. General Assembly. Every other nation is united in speaking the truth about Israel’s continuing violations of international humanitarian law and the law of occupation. Your letter’s bullying demands to the Secretary-General reflect poorly on the United States, but it’s certainly a testament to AIPAC’s power over the U.S. Senate.

I particularly want to draw your attention to the letter’s outrageous claim about “UNRWA’s troubling anti-Israel bias and activities.” You write that “UNRWA must pursue reforms or risk significant consequences.” I’m personally familiar with UNRWA’s solid work in the Gaza Strip and I find this characterization and threat totally unacceptable. The Senate’s blind loyalty to Israel’s hasbara must end.

Udall

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)

I’m also astonished that you oppose the international call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as stated in the letter to the U.N.  Peaceful, nonviolent methods to end Israel’s occupation deserve your strong support, not condemnation.

Please learn the facts about the occupation, beginning with the fact that the Gaza Strip will be unlivable by 2020.

Israel’s leaders have proven over many decades that they are incapable or unwilling to end the occupation. If the United States cannot play a constructive role, then please support the United Nations and its constituent agencies in the work they are doing in the Middle East.

Finally, I invite you and your staff to join me in UNRWA-USA’s 5K run in Washington, DC in September.  Your support for this worthy cause would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Lora A. Lucero

3 Comments

Filed under Israel, nonviolent resistance, Occupation, People, Politics, Uncategorized, United Nations, US Policy

Day #38 – August 13, 2014 – Leading horses to water

11838517_10207555792518815_6451516091017238656_o

On my ride to DC this morning, I took my new book about the Israeli assault on Gaza last summer — “Gaza Unsilenced.”  Check out the Table of Contents here.

Laila El-Haddad

Laila El-Haddad, Editor

Refaat Alareer, Editor (2012)

Lora with Refaat Alareer, Editor (2012)

The Editors write: “How do you provide an accurate and humanistic — a real narration — of the Palestinian story that is Gaza?”

In Gaza Unsilenced, we attempt to do this. We set out to compile a compelling collection of some of the best writing, photography, tweets, art, and poems from that harrowing time and the year that followed, to depict as truthfully and inclusively as possible what was done to Gaza, what the impact has been on both the people and the land, and how they are coping under a still existent siege.

 

As Palestinians from Gaza who were watching the horror unfold from abroad, we were driven by a sense of urgency, despair, and obligation to curate ad edit this book, to be a conduit for voices writing from and about Gaza, as a means for changing the narrative and thereby changing public opinions, which we hope can help push the long-standing U.S. policy of blind alliance with Israel in a different direction, and ultimately let Gaza live.

I’ve met both editors — Laila and Refaat — personally, and you will too when you pick up their book. They introduce themselves in a very personal way. I won’t share the details, you will find them in the book’s Introduction, but my heart goes out to both Laila and Refaat, and to the thousands of Palestinians impacted by Israel’s brutal occupation, seige and war crimes.

By some estimates, Israel’s use of firepower on Gaza by land, sea, and air during Operation “Protective Edge” was equivalent to the atomic bomb used in Hiroshima. Concretely, some 23,400 tank shells, 20,4000 artillery shells, and 2.9 million bullets, or “almost two bullets for ever man, woman, and child in Gaza.”

I’ve decided this is a book my members of Congress must read. I’m ordering copies for Representative Michelle Lujan-Grisham, Senator Tom Udall and Senator Martin Heinrich.  I’m also going to send copies to President Obama, former President Carter, and candidate Bernie Sanders.  I can lead these horses to water, but can’t force them to drink.  Their time will be well-spent reading Gaza Unsilenced.  You can order your copy here.

 By now, it should be clear that this story is not simply the story of a 51-day attack. Nor is it one about 2,200 people killed during the attack. It is not even a story of an Orwellian world where war is peace and victims are villains. It’s a story of what happens when, despite the ability to do so, powerful nations choose to remain silent or, worse, are complicit through financing the crimes being committed in the name of their taxpayers.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review, Gaza, IDF, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, People, Uncategorized

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!).

10483071_10205000601640640_766394619132657794_o

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.

10633185_10205000438916572_4587574505276057495_o

Leave a comment

Filed under Elections, People, US Policy

Two more letters

Senator Tom Udall

Senator Tom Udall

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Senator Udall,

I am writing to express my serious concern about the Senate’s priorities.

On July 10, S.Res.498 was introduced expressing support for Israel’s right to defend herself, calling on Hamas to stop firing rockets at Israel, and calling for the Palestinian unity government to be dissolved. I’m pleased to see that neither you nor Senator Heinrich have signed on as co-sponsors as of July 14. I urge you to vote against S.Res.498 if it comes for a vote.

The only way Israel will find peace and security with its neighbors (including the Palestinians in Gaza) is to end the 66 year military occupation. As the occupier, Israel cannot claim the right of self-defense against actions of resistance by the Palestinians.

An analogy might bring this point home. If the United States invaded Mexico and held it under a long-term military occupation, would the U.S. be able to claim self-defense if the Mexicans decided to resist the occupation with whatever was at their disposal? Of course not.

End the occupation and then the right of self-defense is a legitimate argument if Israel is attacked in the future.

I’m also concerned with the action today by the Senate Appropriation defense subcommittee approving $621.6 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. This is in addition to the $3+ Billion we give to Israel each year.  The Senate can find over 1/2 trillion dollars for Israel but can’t find the resources to put people back to work repairing our country’s aging infrastructure? What is wrong with this picture?

I urge you to speak with your colleagues and your constituents about our country’s misguided priorities. We can be a better friend to Israel by helping her disengage from the military occupation which is against her best interests as well as ours.

Sincerely,

Lora Lucero


 

iStock 20492165 MD - American and Israeli flags

 

 

 

US Senator Martin Heinrich

Dear Senator Heinrich,

I’m writing to express my grave concern about the Senate’s recent actions concerning Israel and Gaza.

Both S.Res.498 (expressing support for Israel’s right to self-defense) and the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee’s decision approving $621.6 million for Israel’s Iron Dome are ultimately counterproductive for both Israel’s future survival and for ending the occupation of Palestine.

You and I met early in your first term as a new Congressman to discuss Palestine and the Israeli occupation. I recall showing you a picture of a young Palestinian from Gaza and asking you to keep him in mind when you voted on issues related to Israel and Palestine. I also recall your response — that you support Israel’s right to defend herself.

I’ve come to the conclusion after watching your votes closely in the House and now in the Senate, that you are solidly in the pocket of AIPAC and uneducable about the issue. That’s why I will be working to defeat your reelection efforts.

Sincerely,

Lora Lucero

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Gaza, Israel, Occupation, US Policy

88 US Senators

This week, a bipartisan group of 88 US Senators signed a letter to Obama expressing their concern about Palestine’s new unity government.  Check out the letter here.

“The recent formation of a Palestinian Authority unity government supported by Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization that has never publicly accepted the Quartet principles, represents a serious setback to efforts to achieve peace,”the Senators wrote. “By its actions and inaction, Hamas has demonstrated it is not a partner for peace.”

The letter conforms to AIPAC’s position on the unity government (see here and here) and was undoubtedly drafted and circulated by AIPAC for Senators’ signatures.  I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when those discussions occurred between AIPAC lobbyists and my two US Senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich. I’m very disappointed that they signed.

Senator Tom Udall

Senator Tom Udall

 

US Senator Martin Heinrich

Senator Martin Heinrich

The Palestinian unity government (Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza) threatens Israel’s strategy to divide and conquer the Palestinians.

Israel wants to divide Palestinian Christians from Palestinian Muslims. Why? Israel wants to frame the conflict as Muslims vs. Jews, rather than the occupation of Palestine. “Occupation” has legal consequences; a religious conflict sounds righteous.

Israel wants to divide the Palestinians in the West Bank from the Palestinians in Gaza. Why? Israel wants Palestinians to focus on infighting among themselves; a unified leadership is more challenging for Israeli negotiators. A fractured Palestinian leadership can be more easily manipulated.

Israel wants to divide Palestinian communities in the West Bank from each other. Why? Israel prefers many disconnected bantustanin the West Bank, divided by Israel settlements, so there will never be a viable State of Palestine.

palestine_oslo_areas

My government is complicit in this “divide and conquer” strategy as evidenced by its support for the suffocating 7-year siege of the Gaza Strip.

Either my U.S. Senators don’t understand the complexity of the ‘divide and conquer’ strategy, or they believe their chances of reelection might be endangered if they don’t follow AIPAC’s wishes, or they sincerely believe that Hamas is a foreign terrorist organization which threatens US interests in the Middle East.

  • If they don’t understand the complexity of the ‘divide and conquer’ strategy, then constituents need to educate them, because Palestinians don’t have paid lobbyists in Washington, DC like Israel.
  • If they’re fearful about their reelection chances, not sure there’s much ordinary Americans can do. We certainly don’t have the $$ to throw around like AIPAC does.
  • If they sincerely believe that Hamas is a terrorist organization (which many Americans believe too), then they need to be consistent and designate the current government of Israel as a foreign terrorist organization subject to the same restrictions they’re asking President Obama to impose on Palestinians. The hypocrisy of labeling Hamas an FTO and not recognizing Israel’s tactics and actions as terrorism is beyond the pale.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Gaza, Hamas, Israel, People, Politics, US Policy

Dear Heinrich, Udall and Lujan-Grisham

 

Representative Lujan-Grisham

US Representative Lujan-Grisham

 

 

 

Senator Tom Udall

Senator Tom Udall

US Senator Martin Heinrich

US Senator Martin Heinrich

Dear Senator Heinrich (ditto Senator Udall and Congresswoman Lujan-Grisham),

By now, the book I ordered for you should have arrived at your office – GAZA WRITES BACK, Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine, Just World Books, 2013.

Despite your busy schedule of meetings, briefings, and committee hearings, you would be wise to put this book on the top of your pile.

I know you pride yourself in being prepared, doing your homework, and thoughtfully examining issues from all sides before forming your position. I commend you for your diligence.

On the matter of the Middle East, and specifically the Israel-Palestine conflict, Israel obviously has a distorted influence and the power of persuasion over many members of Congress through its well-greased lobbying campaign waged by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, otherwise known as AIPAC. I wonder how many times you’ve met with AIPAC lobbyists.  Wish I could be a fly on the wall during those meetings.

Do other countries deploy such influential lobbyists in the halls of Congress?  I doubt it.  Certainly, the Palestinians don’t have the resources or the political acumen to compete with the AIPAC minions.

That’s why GAZA WRITES BACK is crucial to your education.

Undoubtedly, much of what you’ve learned about Palestine comes through the distorted lens of AIPAC, the Israeli government, perhaps a Zionist organization spewing well-tested hasbara, or the unquestioning mainstream media.

Have you ever spoken with a Palestinian?

Palestinians are certainly neither monolithic in thought nor unified in their political opinions, just like Americans, but the most relevant voices for the future are those of the Palestinian youth who are well-educated, intellectually curious, and possess wisdom well beyond their years.

GWB-cover

GAZA WRITES BACK includes 23 short stories written by young adults from Gaza, most have never left this tiny enclave because of the suffocating Israeli siege. Their stories are written in English, not translated from Arabic, and tell about the ordinary and extraordinary events of life under Occupation.

Israeli leaders have waged a very deliberate campaign since the State of Israel was founded in 1948 to erase the history and memories of the indigenous Palestinians from popular discourse, just as they erased hundreds of Palestinian villages in a matter of months. They have carefully framed the conflict to divert the world’s attention away from the Occupation – you will never hear AIPAC lobbyists speak about the Occupation.

Since the US government is funding Israel’s brutal Occupation – to the tune of over $3 billion each year – you should know what Americans are getting for this investment. AIPAC will tell you “security” but, if you read between the lines, these young Palestinian writers will make you think twice about the impact of American foreign policy in the Middle East.

In their own words, with the clarity of uncensored feelings and dreams, these Palestinians eschewed rockets and stones, and decided to pick up their pens to call for justice. Read their stories. Feel their stories. And then lets talk.

2 Comments

Filed under Gaza, Israel, Media, Occupation, Peaceful, People, US Policy