Rep. Katherine Clark pointedly declined to affirm the right of Palestinians to peacefully protest this week or to condemn Israeli military violence directed at Palestinian protesters in Gaza, even as Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey spoke out in favor of protesters’ rights, and after over 40 constituents sent her a letter calling on her to speak out.
Israeli forces continued their third week military attacks on unarmed Palestinian protesters in the Gaza strip today; Israeli troops killed one Palestinian and wounded 968 protesters today, CNN reported. Clark joins the majority of Democratic and Republican politicians in declining to condemn the Israeli action.
A smiling Clark was photographed with Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu (right) on March 26, four days before Israeli snipers killed 19 Palestinians and wounded hundreds, firing across the Gaza border at protesters.
“I share your deep concern about the terrible toll this conflict has taken on innocent civilians in the region. The loss of civilian life, both Palestinian and Israeli, is heartbreaking and underscores the long term need for a two-state solution that achieves a lasting peace and a secure and prosperous future for both Israel and the Palestinian people. I am hopeful that efforts to renew the peace process will prove successful,” Clark wrote to constituents April 9, in a boiler-plate statement that could have been written 10 years ago and which avoided reference to the latest rounds of violence.
“We are concerned by the group photo featuring the delegation, all smiles in the presence of Prime Minister Netanyahu – the principal perpetrator of this atrocity – only days before it happened. If any words of rebuke have been directed at Israel by your delegation, following the massacre, they have not been reported. What has been reported, though, is the delegation’s cordial embrace of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman – one of the most extreme rightwing figures currently in Israeli politics. We have been particularly dismayed by a photo of Rep. Pelosi in what appears to be a warm handshake with this highly problematic individual,” wrote over 40 of Rep. Clark’s constituents and two community organizations in a letter and a list of additional signers delivered to her office on April 9.
Senator Ed Markey spoke out today in support of Palestinians’ right to protest. “With tensions rising along the Gaza Strip, I am concerned for lives that have been taken and are at risk…. Israel must respect Palestinians’ right to protest,” he said to Massachusetts Peace Action, after a grassroots lobby group including several of our members met with his staff yesterday and asked him to speak out against the violence. Markey also made a renewed call for negotiations: “I reaffirm my support for a two-state solution as the best means of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and maintaining a secure Israel,” Markey continued, though he did not acknowledge that the expansion of Israeli settlements, unchallenged by Congress, have by now made a two-state solution virtually impossible in practice.
Senator Elizabeth Warren expressed her concerns clearly and called on Israel to change its behavior yesterday. “I am deeply concerned about the deaths and injuries in Gaza,” Warren told The Intercept yesterday. “As additional protests are planned for the coming days, the Israel Defense Forces should exercise restraint and respect the rights of Palestinians to peacefully protest.”
Markey and Warren were joined by five members of the House of Representatives iand by The New York Times editorial staff (“Israel’s Violent Response to Nonviolent Protests“, April 11).
“[M]uch of the world has been shockingly mute about what’s happening in Gaza. Journalists have a right to work, and people have a right to demonstrate peacefully — and to assume that responsible authorities will ensure that they can do so without being shot,” the Times editors concluded.
We at Massachusetts Peace Action hope that our political leaders, starting with Rep. Clark, will soon find their consciences and their tongues before even more peaceful protesters are shot down by Israeli troops.