If you're a Member of Congress, and your name doesn't happen to be Dennis J. Kucinich, can you still speak out in opposition to the carnage that President Bush and Secretary of State Rice are actively promoting in Gaza?
Yes, you can!
There are two key issues. Should the U.S. support an immediate ceasefire (international opinion) or should the U.S. insist that the violence continue (Bush Administration position.) Should the blockade on Gaza end (international opinion) or should it continue (Bush Administration position.) Of course, the blockade is also an act of war.
J Street reports (emphasis mine):
Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (Jan. 2): "the United States must work actively for an immediate ceasefire that ends the violence, stops the rockets, and removes the blockade of Gaza."
Congressman Joe Sestak (Jan. 2):
"...beginning with bringing a swift end to this ongoing conflict..."
Congresswoman Lois Capps (Dec. 29):
"...the current military operation in Gaza represents a vastly disproportionate response that will further destabilize the region... The numbers of dead and injured in Gaza, and the televised images of the humanitarian crisis now unfolding are truly shocking... I believe an immediate ceasefire is necessary."
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (Dec. 30):
"I was particularly discouraged that the U.S. did not try to broker an extension of the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas or improve the humanitarian situation on the ground... I strongly urge all parties to usher in the New Year with a renewed ceasefire agreement."
Congresswoman Betty McCollum (Dec. 31):
"The time has come for both sides to end the rockets, end the bombings, and end the restrictions on food, medicine and fuel - all of which inflict intolerable harm on innocent civilians on both sides."
Congressman Keith Ellison (Dec. 31):
"I believe the following actions must be taken at once... restore the ceasefire... The Israeli and Egyptian borders must be opened at once to allow the innocent civilians caught in this violence to seek refuge, and for the flow of food, water and medical supplies into Gaza.... I agree with those who demand strict observance of international humanitarian law, which must be observed immediately and without exception."
What about Dennis J. Kucinich? Dec. 29:
"The attacks on civilians represent collective punishment, which is a violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention... Israel is leveling Gaza to strike at Hamas, just as they pulverized south Lebanon to strike at Hezbollah. Yet in both cases civilian populations were attacked, countless innocents killed or injured, infrastructure targeted and destroyed, and civil law enforcement negated. All this was, and is, disproportionate, indiscriminate mass violence in violation of international law... The attack aggravated a humanitarian crisis wrought by the Israeli-imposed blockade of food, fuel, and medical supplies."
Can Congress speak out against the Gaza violence? Yes, it can!
But Brit Tzedek v'Shalom reports that AIPAC is preparing a Congressional resolution that would endorse the continuation of the Israeli assault. Don't whine that Congress is "Israeli-occupied territory" if you haven't exerted the minimal effort to ask Congress to behave differently. You can do so in 5 seconds here.
UPDATE 1: Some more Congressional voices, as reported by Churches for Middle East Peace:
Congressman Sam Farr: "A ceasefire is in the best interest of the United States and both parties involved and must be the immediate goal of the global community."
Congressman John W. Olver, December 31, 2008
"I call upon the United States, the United Nations Security Council, and the broader international community to secure an immediate and lengthy cease-fire and encourage both sides to begin serious negotiations to avoid repetition of this latest round of violence."
UPDATE 2: J Street, Churches for Middle East Peace, and Just Foreign Policy are urging Americans to call Congress in support of an immediate ceasefire and lifting the blockade. You can find contact info, talking points, and report results here.
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