A Congress without a Conscience: Call on Congress to Protect Innocent Palestinians

July 18, 2014

For the last nine days, Israel has steadily increased its military aggression against Palestinians in Gaza. More than 260 Palestinians have been killed, with the United Nations reporting that 80 percent were civilians and 2,000 more have been injured. What has Congress’ response been to this bloodshed? Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee approved a defense spending bill that provides $621.6 million for Israeli missile defense, including a $351 million increase in funding for Israel’s Iron Dome system. 

Since 2011, the Israeli Iron Dome system has received $720 million in American funding. How much funding have the Palestinians received to bolster their security and protection? Last year, the Palestinian Authority received reduced funding from around $100 million to $70 million for nonlethal assistance for their security forces.  

While the Iron Dome appears to have fulfilled its stated purpose by effectively deflecting the vast majority of Hamas rockets, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has nonetheless launched a ground offense in Gaza. For Congress to go so far as to funnel more funds into the Israeli defense system while ignoring the increasing humanitarian disaster facing Palestinians is obscene. The failure of the United States Congress to protect an innocent civilian population is further evidence of the slow death of its collective conscience. 

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) this week praised Netanyahu for using “an admirable sense of restraint” in the conflict thus far. McCain is right about one thing: although Israel’s disproportionate military response has cost hundreds of lives and injured more than 1,000 others, Israel has not deployed the full extent of its military might yet. Based on Israel’s last three incursions into Gaza, we can expect the death toll to rise exponentially and infrastructure to be further devastated. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has stated that he does not intend to end the military incursion “within days” and we know Israel has no intention of ending its occupation based on Netanyahu’s own statements. 

How have our elected officials responded? New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told reporters, “Israel is not sure that they have America’s full support like they used to.” Let’s see: billions of dollars in financial and military aid, license to do anything Israel wants in the name of “security” and public political backing in the face of international outrage. What more could we possibly provide to sanction Israel’s actions and turn a blind eye to the blatant violation of Palestinian human rights? 

Our “special relationship” with Israel is an abusive one, and Congress should see the writing on the wall and withdraw funding and support rather than increasing them. It’s past time for Congress to find its conscience, demonstrate its values all human life, and serve as an honest actor in working for peace and for the end of Israel’s illegal occupation. 

Call on Congress to Act Now to Stop the Bloodshed 

Call your members of Congress today! To find your local representative, click here. To find your two Senators, click here.

  • Tell your members of Congress to push for an immediate end of the Israeli assault on Gaza, including a halt to the ground invasion and an immediate ceasefire.  
  • Tell Congress to stop calling this a “war.” What we are witnessing is an act of Israeli aggression as collective punishment on Palestinians in Gaza. More than 75% of those killed in airstrikes have been civilians, including women and children. The U.N. reports that 222 of the 260 Palestinians killed were civilians. Israel is violating the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which prohibits the use of American weapons on a civilian population.
  • Ask for a resolution condemning Israel’s killing of Palestinian children, including four innocent children killed on a beach while playing soccer.
  • Since 2011, Israel's Iron Dome defense system has received $720 million in American funding. Who is protecting innocent Palestinian civilians from Israel? Tell your members of Congress that you want U.S. funding for protecting Palestinians.
  • In two weeks, Congress will go on recess and your members will be in their district offices. Schedule a meeting and tell the Member that it's time for Congress to support Palestinian human rights, and end their blind endorsement for Israel's ongoing occupation.

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