Statement: MPAC Calls on Congress to Affirm its Commitment to Palestinian Human Rights

July 13, 2023 Statements

Washington, D.C. | | July 13, 2023 — The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) is concerned by the decision of the U.S. Congress to host Israeli President Isaac Herzog on an official visit. The invitation extended to President Herzog by members of Congress sends a distressing message that undermines the pursuit of peace, justice, and human rights in the Middle East, consequently exacerbating anti-American sentiment in the region and worldwide.

MPAC firmly believes in promoting dialogue, understanding, and constructive engagement between nations. However, the decision to host President Herzog, given the ongoing human rights violations committed by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people, is deeply concerning. It raises questions about the U.S. Congress turning a blind eye to human rights. 

The Israeli government’s ruthless policies and actions towards the Palestinian people, including the killing of civilians, attacks on worshipers at Al Aqsa during the holy month of Ramadan, land confiscation, illegal settlements, destruction of property, and rampant discrimination, are continuously documented and condemned by the United Nations, Amnesty International, and other human rights organizations. This invitation to President Herzog comes on the heels of Israel launching their largest major military campaign in the West Bank in more than a decade, this time targeting a Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin, which thus far has resulted in the death of 12 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, and more than a hundred others injured. The Israeli military’s usage of U.S. weapons to attack civilians also constitutes a violation of the Leahy Law, a U.S. statute meant to prevent American weapons being used for these exact purposes. By extending an invitation to President Herzog, the U.S. Congress appeases Israeli policies of apartheid.

Last month, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the White House extended an invitation to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi despite concerns regarding egregious human rights violations towards religious minorities, particularly Muslims in India. In May, the House Speaker attempted to cancel the 75th Nakba commemoration event hosted by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, labeling the event antisemitic and stating that he would instead use the space to hold “a bipartisan discussion to honor the 75th anniversary of the U.S.-Israel relationship.” 

Official invitations to government leaders who continuously and violently target marginalized communities within their state signals the erosion of true democratic values in America – a country founded on the principle of religious freedom. Such actions indicate the United States is selective in their human rights agenda and suggests to American Muslims that Muslim lives hold little value in the eyes of our government. 

MPAC calls upon the U.S. Congress to reconsider its decision and take a principled stance in promoting a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. The United States, as a global leader, should uphold the values of democracy, human rights, and international law. Hosting President Herzog without addressing the systemic human rights abuses perpetuated by the Israeli government sends a disturbing message of America subsidizing the suffering of the Palestinian people.

Additionally, MPAC calls upon Congress and the White House to:  

  • Demand the Israeli government cease all settlement activity and to pull back its occupying forces from Palestinian land in the West Bank and to end the siege in Gaza. 
  • Investigate the repeated violations of human rights and religious freedom of Palestinian civilians and disclose specific violations of the “Leahy Law.” 
  • Accurately report on and evaluate the impact of the humanitarian crisis facing the Palestinian people. 

MPAC reaffirms its commitment to promoting human rights, justice, and equality. We encourage governments, including the U.S. Congress, to act in accordance with these principles and consider the impact of their actions on vulnerable populations around the world.

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