10 Most Shameless Ways American Politicians Are Pandering to Israel
Sen. Lindsay Graham, ardent supporter of Israel.
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As Israeli bombs have rained down on the Gaza Strip, the streets of major American cities have witnessed thousands of people coming out to protest the attack. But one place where there is virtually no dissent is the halls of power in the nation’s capitol.
Almost every single elected official in Washington has come out in full support of Israel over the past three weeks as the Israeli military pressed a bloody offensive across Gaza that has killed well over 1,500 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians, and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
With each passing day, Israeli military operations perpetrate new horrors in Gaza. One day it is the bombing of Gaza’s main power plant. The next day it is the shelling of a United Nations school that kills 16 civilians who thought they were in a safe place. But the U.S. political class--save for the exceptions of Reps. Keith Ellison and Jim Moran, who have issued calls for cease-fires--doesn’t say a word of protest. In mid-July, the Senate, by a vote of 100-0, passed a resolution supporting the Israeli assault. The bill did not mention Palestinian deaths at all.
Eager for campaign donations from the Israel lobby and wary of provoking controversy, Senators and Congressional representatives have fallen over themselves to support Israel’s attack.
Here are 10 of the most shameless statements from politicians, both liberals and conservatives, supporting Israel.
1. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on “human shields.” The Florida chairwoman of the House’s Middle East subcommittee introduced fact-free legislation denouncing Hamas’ use of “human shields” during the conflict in Gaza. It passed by unanimous consent.
After the bill passed the House, Ros-Lehtinen said that Hamas “uses Palestinian men, women and children as human shields in violation of international humanitarian law by placing its missile batteries in densely populated areas and near schools, near hospitals, near mosques.” The trouble is that, as Amnesty International said, there is no “evidence at this point that Palestinian civilians have been intentionally used by Hamas or Palestinian armed groups during the current hostilities to ‘shield’ specific locations or military personnel or equipment from Israeli attacks.” Amnesty’s assertion was echoed by BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen, who wrote, “ I saw no evidence during my week in Gaza of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields.”
It’s true that Hamas and other militant groups fire from within Gaza’s civilian areas. But that is how many guerilla armies fight--and doing so does not meet the international legal definition of what a “human shield” is.
2. Ted Deutch on “human shields.” The co-author of the House resolution on Hamas and its alleged use of “human shields” was this Florida Congressman. He also repeated the Israeli government’s incessant claims that Hamas used “human shields.”
“It is Hamas who uses its own people as human shields to protect those rocket launchers. The use of civilians to protect military objectives is a direct violation of the Geneva Conventions. Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields is deplorable and should be condemned by any nation that values human rights,” the Florida Democrat claimed.
What both Deutch and Ros-Lehtinen aren’t saying is that, while there is no proof of Hamas using “human shields,” there is incontrovertible proof that Israel has. In June 2013, a UN report accused Israel of using Palestinian children as human shields. And other human rights groups have also documented how Israel uses human shields. A B’Tselem report from 2002 denounced Israel’s use of the “neighbor procedure” in which Palestinians who are neighbors of suspected militants are forced to go into their neighbors’ home to find out whether it is bobby-trapped with explosives.