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Confronting Your Member of Congress

Let August be Action Time for Palestine

by JEFFREY BLANKFORT

In Italy, France, Spain, and much of Western Europe, August is vacation time. That is one of the few customs that members of the US Congress might admit sharing with what they see as “dead and dying Europe.”

It also provides an unparalleled opportunity for those justifiably frustrated by the limited effects of protests in front of Israeli consulates and marching down city streets to show their opposition to the latest bloody chapter in Israel’s efforts to eliminate its “Palestinian problem.”

In every Congressional district across the United States, members of the House and Senate are expected to use this month as an opportunity to meet and glad hand their putative constituents and shore up their votes in November’s mid-term elections.

Since every member, repeat, every member of the House and Senate, without a single dissenting voice, participated in approving, by unanimous votes, resolutions supporting Israel in its war on Gaza, all of them should be considered fair targets for protesters who should, ideally, show up in numbers with flyers and placards at every event on their public calendar and in front of their district offices on days that no events are scheduled.

There should be no exceptions made for the representative’s positions on other issues, no more than an exception would have made for a member of Congress who was “good” on every other issue but supported racist, apartheid South Africa.  Moreover, there should be no exceptions made for the politician’s color, gender, or sexual orientation. They have all taken a stand, and not for the first time, that places US support for Israel at the top of America’s foreign policy and domestic agenda.

There will be those who will tell you that is better to try and arrange an appointment with the more liberal members of Congress, to explain to them the situation facing the Palestinians in a cordial rather than a confrontational setting. Don’t fall for it. Over the years, these meetings have had the same rate of success as the equally phony “peace process.”

These members of Congress know the address of their real constituents, the people they really need to please and it is not in their district. It is 251 H Street, NW, the Washington DC headquarters of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee or AIPAC, the only lobbying organization for a foreign government that is not required to register as a foreign agent.  That, too, is an example of its power over the federal government.

On Thursday, former Congressional staff member as well as editor of AIPAC’s Near East Report, Blogger M J Rosenberg provided examples of AIPAC power:

I worked in the House and Senate for 15 years and personally experienced the pressure tactics that terrorize any Congressman who even thinks of criticizing Israel. I watched AIPAC write the foreign aid package and then simply hand it to the chairman of the Appropriations Committees for immediate passage; and then I watched AIPAC micromanage its implementation, for instance, literally holding up humanitarian assistance because a playground in Ramallah was named after someone AIPAC deemed a terrorist….

I have seen it all first hand and I can tell you this. AIPAC and its satellites constitute the sole reason this war goes on. Otherwise, the images of the dead children would prevail and America would use its clout to negotiate the simultaneous end of the bombing and the lifting of the blockade of Gaza (monitored by the United States to ensure no weapons get in.)

For those who think the Congressional Black Caucus may offer a bit of hope, Black Agenda Report’s Bruce Dixon, spelled out their role on Wednesday:

Only two of over 40 Congressional Black Caucus members voted against legitimizing the 2009 Israeli massacre of 1400 mostly civilians in Gaza, with seven CBC members abstaining.

Last week, with the Gaza death toll climbing toward 1,000 not a single CBC member could be bothered to lift a voice against Israel’s genocidal assault of the moment or its ongoing apartheid state in general. Black America should hang our collective heads in shame.

In fact, when it comes to votes on Israel, with civil rights struggle hero, Georgia’s John Lewis, being the most flagrant example, the CBC has long acted as if it was AIPAC’s “invisible plantation,” refusing to even speak out or take action against Israel’s arms sales to apartheid South Africa. Even, Berkeley’s Ron Dellums, another hero to the American Left, disgracefully capitulated to AIPAC and Israel when, as chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee under Bill Clinton, he pulled a plank out of the anti-apartheid resolution for 1989 that someone had snuck in there that would have deducted from US aid to Israel the amount Tel Aviv gained in sales to the apartheid regime.

Dellums did so, he later admitted at an anti-apartheid conference at UC Berkeley, in response to demands by fellow Democrats who told him if the plank punishing Israel was not removed from the legislation, that they would withdraw their co-sponsorship.

His successor, Barbara Lee, has been no better. Being the lone vote opposing the US invasion of Iraq apparently took less courage than speaking out on the floor or voting against Israel.

Already, people in her district are planning to distribute flyers they have made calling attention to Congress having provided in its aid package to Israel, a particularly pernicious anti-personnel weapon manufactured by Boeing, the “Dense Inert Metal Explosive,” referred to in the military by the acronym, DIME.

As the flyer notes,

In September, 2008 the US Congress approved the sale of 1000 Boeing GBU-39 DIME bombs to Israel. The Pentagon said the sale was vital to Israel’s self-defense. In 2006, according to Boeing, the first 4.2 billion dollar production contract for 24 thousand DIMEs was authorized, probably protecting many American Boeing jobs. At what price?

Below a photo of a Palestinian girl, victimized by DIME, the flyer explains:

The DIME bomb was designed to produce a higher kill ratio than other conventional bombs. It is smaller (5.9 feet), lighter weight (285 pounds), and lower cost. Many more bombs can be loaded onto any aircraft. Instead of shrapnel it disperses small particles of tungsten metal at such a rapid velocity that it cuts and shreds everything in its path, including bone.

Congress has not only provided Israel with its major instruments of death, the F-16s and Apache helicopters and the missiles that both fire, but it has also assured Israel of a way to guard against retaliation by those it has chosen to kill. That, everyone knows by now, is the US-financed Iron Dome which has proven capable of shooting down most of the relatively unsophisticated rockets that have been fired from Gaza.  To celebrate its success, like applying icing to the cake, Congress has since appropriated another $621 million for the project.

At the same time, the White House, has approved Israel reaching into stocks of US weapons stored in Israel for “emergency use by US forces” (we are told) to replenish the bombs and rocket propelled grenades that they have expended in destroying much of Gaza and killing over 1300 Palestinians.

Indeed, there is a lot to confront our representatives in Congress about and August is the month to do it.

Jeffrey Blankfort is a journalist and radio host and can be reached at jblankfort@earthlink.net