Virtually the Entire Dem-Controlled Congress Supports Israel's War Crimes in Gaza
Continued from previous page
Not a Product of AIPAC
It appears that these two resolutions, unlike some similar measures in recent years, were not drafted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee AIPAC, the influential "pro-Israel" lobby. Nor were they primarily the initiative of right-wing Republican House leaders like Ohio Rep. John Boehner, or his predecessor Texas Rep. Tom DeLay, as were previous resolutions related to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The lack of Democratic input on such resolutions has been used on a number of occasions in the past by Democratic staff members on Capitol Hill in an effort to excuse congressional Democrats for voting in favor of such initiatives, arguing that they ended up voting for a particular resolution in order to "show support for Israel," but did not necessarily approve of the specific wording of the resolution.
They have no such excuses this time, however, since these resolutions came primarily out of the offices of Pelosi, Reid, and House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Howard Berman, D-Calif.
There appears to be little popular support for such an unqualified endorsement of Israeli war-making, however, with public opinion -- particularly among Democrats -- largely opposed to the assault on Gaza. And the American Jewish community has never seen so much dissent over Washington's support for Israel's militaristic and self-defeating policies toward the Palestinians. Despite the myth that it is somehow "political suicide" to oppose such resolutions, every Democrat who failed to vote for a similar 2006 House resolution supporting Israel's attacks on Lebanon and the Gaza Strip was re-elected that November by a bigger margin than they were two years earlier. Furthermore, virtually all of the principal authors and sponsors of this year's resolutions come from safe districts.
One of major reasons these Democrats support such right-wing legislation is not because AIPAC is all-powerful, but because there is so little pressure in the other direction to counter it. For example, MoveOn, Democracy for America, Council for a Livable World, and other "progressive" political organizations that endorse candidates for national office continue to back Democrats who support dangerous militaristic policies in the Middle East. (Ironically, if Democrats Nita Lowey, N.Y.; Robert Wexler, Fla;, John Hall, N.Y.; Henry Waxman, D-Calif.; Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas; Carolyn Maloney, N.Y.; Edward Markey, Mass.; and other co-sponsors of the House bill were running for the Israeli Knesset instead of the U.S. House of Representatives, their positions on human rights and international law in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would put them on that legislature's right wing.)
Since the next congressional election is nearly two years away, it is too early to tell whether the growing opposition within the progressive community to U.S. support for the large-scale Israeli attacks against Palestinian civilians will be sufficient to deny those who defend Israeli war crimes the endorsements of progressive groups in the 2010 campaign. Given that like-minded organizations in previous decades denied their support for Democratic hawks who defended human rights abuses by U.S.-backed governments in Central America, Southeast Asia, Southern Africa and other conflict regions, it should be possible.
The problem is that there is still a fair amount of anti-Arab racism, which seems to take the perspective that the human rights of Palestinians somehow don't count. It's telling, for example, that Pelosi, the chief sponsor of the House resolution, has been praised by progressive publications for her "consistent support for human rights." Similarly, the late Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., also an outspoken defender of Israeli human rights abuses, was repeatedly re-elected to chair the ironically named congressional Human Rights Caucus and was eulogized in a number of progressive periodicals following his death last year as Congress' "leading defender of human rights." (See my article Lantos' Tarnished Legacy.)