Rabbibrian's Blog

A Voice for Justice and Peace in Israel/Palestine

“Congress insults victims of Gaza War”

Posted by rabbibrian on November 5, 2009

“Yesterday the US Congress gravely insulted hundreds of civilians who were wounded or killed in the most recent war in the Middle East.”

This is the opening line of a powerful article by Fred Abrahams, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, about the outrageous resolution passed  by Congress yesterday (344-36) condemning the Goldstone Report.  Fred, who I know personally, participated in a conference call on the Report for Taanit Tzedek – Jewish Fast for Gaza.

The non-binding Congressional resolution contains many factual errors and it reveals that most representatives have not read the report.  Yet it was rushed through Congress and only 36 Representatives had the courage to stand up to the Israel Lobby.  The resolution didn’t even call for independent investigations by both sides, the recommendation of the Report.  The Israeli public is debating this issue and many Jewish organizations and Israeli human rights organizations urged Congress to include a call for independent and credible investigation by both Hamas and Israel.   They rejected these requests.

Abrahams writes:

“The resolution succumbs to predictable American politics, in which criticisms of Israeli actions are rejected as delegitimizing attacks on Israel, and even as anti-Semitism. It misses a chance to break the impunity on all sides that has dogged the conflict and impeded efforts at peace. And, most significant for US foreign policy, it gives abusive governments around the world a handy excuse to deflect US criticism of their own unlawful conduct.

Abrahams points out the errors in the resolution:

“The resolution claims that the Goldstone report “makes no mention of the relentless rocket and mortar attacks” by Palestinian armed groups into Israel. But the report indeed documents these attacks on Israeli civilians, calling them war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

The resolution contends that the fact-finding mission’s mandate was biased, but fails to mention that the mandate was deliberately expanded to look at both sides. And the resolution claims that Hamas significantly shaped the report’s findings “by selecting and pre-screening some of the witnesses.” Goldstone has adamantly rejected that claim, and no one has provided any evidence that Hamas selected or pre-screened witnesses.

The resolution also repeats an oft-heard critique that the report “denied the State of Israel the right to self-defense.” The report does not question Israel’s right to use military force. It examines whether Israel and Hamas, in resorting to force, conducted military operations in compliance with the laws of armed conflict, which are designed to spare civilians as much as possible the hazards of war.

Before the vote Taanit Tzedek – Jewish Fast for Gaza encouraged our supporters to email or call congressional representatives urging them to vote against the resolution.   I called the office of Bill Delahunt, our representative.  Representative Delahunt voted “present”, although I wish he was one of those who voted against the resolution.  It is ironic that those who demand “balance” when anyone dares to criticize any policy of the Israeli government, have passed such a rushed and biased resolution.

Now Congress has joined the growing list of of those involved in covering up the war crimes committed during the war.  The  list includes among others: The Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative) , Rabbi Yoffie, leader of the Reform movement, the Anti Defamation League, American Jewish Committee and on and on.     The cover up continues…..

One suggestion for today: Check how your representative voted.  If they voted “no” call to thank them, if they supported the resolution, call them to ask why and to express your disappointment.  Let us know what you hear from them.

Even though the Congress wasn’t interested in talking to Goldstone,  you can listen to a wonderful interview we conducted with him.

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3 Responses to ““Congress insults victims of Gaza War””

  1. Beth Harris said

    Thanks for this commentary, Rabbi Brian. I agree with what you wrote about Congress now being implicated with the war crimes in Gaza. My congressman Michael Arcuri voted for this resolution. He also has evaded meeting with our central New York interfaith delegation about issues related to Israel and Palestine. Now we are trying to education our district about the issues.

  2. David said

    It would have been relatively easy for many to vote “Abstain” or “Present” but then they wouldn’t have gotten those AIPAC brownie points. Check to see how your congress(wo)man voted here:

    http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-hr867/show

    I regard this vote as a litmus test on commitment to human rights.

  3. nice1 said

    the only warcrimes in gaza are the ones inflicted by hamas on their own people.

    and aipac had nothing to do with this resolution:

    http://www.alternet.org/world/119252/virtually_the_entire_dem-controlled_congress_supports_israel/'s_war_crimes_in_gaza?page=entire

    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.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article/comments/view?f=/c/a/2009/11/14/IN541AI27O.DTL&o=1#ixzz0XC3poZQK

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