by Pat Westwater-Jong
135 constituents of Rep. Lori Trahan (Massachusetts congressional district #3) have signed a letter to her calling on her to support a Gaza ceasefire and stop sending weapons to Israel which violate US law and human rights standards. The letter is posted below:
We are constituents who do not want our government to be committing or enabling war crimes. We were horrified when Hamas fighters committed war crimes and killed unarmed Israeli civilians and took others hostage. The staggering level of Israeli destruction and cruelty against the people in Gaza has left us shocked, outraged, and ashamed that we are enabling, participating in this tortuous destruction of families, of children. We don’t want to be responsible for killing or expelling Palestinians from Gaza, the West Bank, or East Jerusalem.1
The US has been sending Israel mixed messages – warning them to stop killing civilians, and yet continuing to give them the weapons that are being used to bomb noncombatants at refugee camps, schools, and hospitals. We ask you to publicly call for and take actions to support:
– an immediate and sustainable ceasefire that allows humanitarian aid workers to do their job and save the lives of civilians – especially the children, in Gaza, and
– enforcing the existing Leahy Law, or any similar bill that would withhold weapons and military support to all foreign security forces that commit gross violations of human rights, including the Israeli Defense Forces.
Some reasons why these actions are critical now:
(1.) The current situation is a humanitarian disaster. Since October 7, over 18,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed – around 70% women and children. Over 50,000 have been injured. Many more people are missing, presumably buried under the rubble, waiting for rescue or recovery. People are drinking seawater, disease is spreading. Over half the hospitals have been bombed. Almost 1.9 million people in Gaza, or nearly 85 per cent of the population, are estimated have been forced to leave their homes. Heavy rains recently flooded many areas – lack of sanitation has attracted insects, mosquitoes, and rats, threatening both physical and mental wellbeing.2
The UN Secretary-General has called for a humanitarian ceasefire, “The situation is fast deteriorating into a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole and for peace and security in the region.” 3 Legal experts have determined the situation meets the definition of genocide 4,5,6, fueled by US bombs, weaponry and political support. We imagine trying to take care of our children under these conditions – not due to a natural disaster, but from Israeli and US actions. Our bombs must not be doing this. We want people to heal.
(2.) This genocide will make Israelis, Jews, and Americans less safe. Israel’s neighbors and people around the world are witnessing the cruel and relentless destruction. We imagine revenge attacks against Israelis, Jews, and, since we are paying for the bombs and protecting Israel at the UN – Americans.
In the US, increased antisemitism and Islamophobia have triggered hate crimes. In Vermont, three Palestinian students taking a walk were shot at point-blank range – one of them paralyzed for life. Jewish students on some college campuses need police escorts to ensure their safety.
(3.) President Biden is bleeding Arab, Muslim American votes in critical swing states. Arab voters are declaring in large numbers, some in swing states where they were critical for Biden’s 2020 win, that they could never vote for Biden again.7 Young people in particular are horrified at what they are seeing every day on social media. There is a real risk that Biden will not win in 2024. Other incumbents are also likely to suffer supporter disgust and desertion.
(4.) Growing risk of an expanded war in the Middle East. As Israel continues its attack on Gaza, the risk of a wider war in the Middle East grows. Israel has nuclear weapons and Turkey is a “nuclear sharing state”, storing some of the US arsenal.8 Lebanon and Syria are already, so far, minimally, involved. Israel has been trying to get the US to attack Iran for years. The consequences of the surrounding countries getting involved could be catastrophic.
Leaders of 57 Arab and Muslim countries recently met in the Saudi capital Riyadh, charged Western countries, primarily the US with, “Hypocrisy, double standards and a failure to understand the region… We warn of the disastrous repercussions of the retaliatory aggression by Israel against the Gaza Strip, which amounts to a war crime,” said the final communique. “We warn of the real danger of the expansion of the war as a result of Israel’s refusal to stop its aggression and of the inability of the [UN] Security Council to enforce international law to end this aggression.” 9
We close with this quote from an open letter from individuals who work at Jewish organizations, “We know there is no military solution to this crisis. We know that Israelis and Palestinians are here to stay — neither Jewish safety nor Palestinian liberation can be achieved if they are pitted against one another. We know that freedom for one people cannot be reached through the oppression and killing of another. We know that Israeli and Palestinian safety is deeply intertwined and that no one wins a forever war. The only way to lasting peace and security is through diplomatic means that move us towards an equal and just future for all.” 10
1 Chris Hedges: Israel’s War on Hospitals https://consortiumnews.com/2023/11/22/chris-hedges-israels-war-on-hospitals/, Nov 22, 2023. Videos of soldiers singing, “Conquer, expel, settle”.
2 OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, occupied Palestinian territory, Dec 9 Hostilities in the Gaza Strip and Israel – reported impact | Day 64
5 Jewish Currents: A Textbook Case of Genocide
6 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/oct/31/un-official-resigns-israel-hamas-war-palestine-new-york Top UN official in New York steps down citing ‘genocide’ of Palestinian civilians.
7 thenation.com . Biden’s Israel-Palestine Policy Could Cost Him the Election, Oct 18.
9 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-67417570 November 14 ,2023
10 Letter from individuals working for Jewish orgs, https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vQ1EFVMTDvaxvWXldzbZvr60BE5o3UQeU_WfiXX3ivcUVU1SAYU13wZsBhDVbmtbXmKejMNajY1xSQ1/pub