Rep. Seth Moulton Won’t Call for a Ceasefire

Peace Advocate January 2024

Rep. Seth Moulton on Webinar with J Street, March 22, 2022, discussing his visit to Israel and Palestine with the group in February 2022. Screenshot from Zoom
Rep. Seth Moulton on Webinar with J Street, March 22, 2022, discussing his visit to Israel and Palestine with the group in February 2022. Screenshot from Zoom

by Susan Nicholson (Gloucester), Bob Mason (Beverly), Rev. Art McDonald (Salem), and Sunny Robinson (Gloucester)

In his year-end message to constituents broadcasting his achievements, Rep. Moulton claims “I have been outspoken about the current Israel-Hamas conflict.”

It’s true Rep. Moulton has been outspoken, but what he has said has been either  completely  detached from reality, or else toothless suggestions guaranteed to have no impact on Israeli behavior. 

And what he hasn’t said – the necessity of using US leverage to end Israel’s attack on Gaza by cutting off US arms to Israel  – is the one thing that needs most to be said.

What he has said:

In mid-October, Moulton began urging that the IDF take a page from the US war in Iraq and urge citizens of northern Gaza to move south to “safety,” where they could be met with a “massive surge of aid.” He continued to press what he described as a change in strategy as recently as an op-ed in Time magazine in December 4th, long past the point at which it became perfectly clear there was no safety to be had in southern Gaza, nor did Israel have the slightest intention of providing aid to those fleeing southward.

As reported in the New York Times, on at least 200 occasions Israel  used its most destructive 1 ton bombs in the very areas it told civilians to go for safety.  And no one paying any attention to the daily reports of international humanitarian agencies on the ground could miss the dire reports of severe hunger, dehydration, disease, lack of shelter and the collapse of medical systems in southern Gaza.

Most recently, on December 18, Moulton dropped his “lessons from Iraq” advice.  In a letter written with 5 others, he describes  himself as “deeply concerned with the mounting civilian death toll and humanitarian crisis,” and urges President Biden to use his leverage to obtain “an immediate and significant shift in Israel’s military strategy and tactics in Gaza.”

Needless to say, similar directions to Israel to shift strategy have been repeatedly made by US officials with no impact whatever on Israel’s behavior. Not surprisingly, Moulton’s words had zero effect on Israel’s behavior or President Biden, as demonstrated below.

– On December 24, Christmas Eve, Israel carried out what the Israeli newspaper Haaretz described as one of the deadliest attacks since October 7,

killing 106 people in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp, where residents had been sheltering after being  ordered by Israel to move south for safety.

– On December 25, as reported by Haaretz, Netanyahu said he is ready to encourage “voluntary migration” of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip (which of course under the circumstances could only be the war crime of forcible transfer).

– On December 27, UNOCHA reported that the risk of famine to 2.2 M Gazans  “increases daily.”

– On December 29th, South Africa filed a case in the International Court of Justice  charging Israel with genocide in Gaza, and requesting an immediate ceasefire order to protect Gazans from “irreparable harm” from Israel’s genocidal acts. This is the same day, incidentally, US Secretary Blinken authorized an emergency shipment of 148M of weapons to Israel, bypassing mandated Congressional review.

-on January 2, UNOCHA reported “heavy Israeli bombardment…continued across most of the Gaza Strip,” resulting in “heavy fatalities” in areas where Palestinians had relocated following Israeli orders. 85% of the population has now been displaced, many multiple times.

-in the last 15 days since December 18 when Moulton called for a change in Israel’s military strategy, Israel in fact killed another 2,732 Gazans, for a total of 22,185 killed, 70% of whom are women and children, and destroyed or damaged  another 48,500 residential units.  The prospects for the nearly 5,000 additional Gazans Israel wounded during that same period are dire, as UNOCHA reports “hospitals are under heavy strikes.”

So no credit whatsoever is due to Moulton for what he has said. 

What he hasn’t said:

What Moulton hasn’t said is the single thing that could make a difference:  a call for a ceasefire backed up by a cut-off of weapons to Israel if it doesn’t comply.  

In his Christmas address, the pastor of the Christian Evangelical Church in Bethlehem, the Rev. Dr. Munther Isaacs,  had this to say, among other things:

“Let it be clear: Silence is complicity, and empty calls for peace without a ceasefire and end to occupation, and the shallow words of empathy without direct action — are all under the banner of complicity. So here is my message: Gaza today has become the moral compass of the world…..

If you are not appalled by what is happening; if you are not shaken to your core – there is something wrong with your humanity. ……

If you fail to call this a genocide. It is on you. It is a sin and a darkness you willingly embrace. 

Some have not even called for a ceasefire…

I feel sorry for you. We will be ok. Despite the immense blow we have endured, we will recover. We will rise and stand up again from the midst of destruction, as we have always done as Palestinians, although this is by far the biggest blow we have received in a long time.

But again, for those who are complicit, I feel sorry for you. Will you ever recover from this?

Your charity, your words of shock AFTER the genocide, won’t make a difference….. I want you to look at the mirror… and ask: where was I?”

What we can do:

In this new year, we need to increase the pressure on Rep. Moulton. Where is he? What does he think when he looks in the mirror now with more than 8,000 children dead? How many more children must die before he calls for a ceasefire – 10,000? 15,000? 20,000?  Is he waiting for the ICJ to declare that Israel is committing a genocide before he dares to call for a cut off of US weapons?

What creative things can we do in the public eye and with newspaper publicity to up the pressure and drive home that his refusal to call for a ceasefire is intolerable? Please give us your suggestions and stay tuned for future actions.  If you haven’t called his office to demand a ceasefire (978-531-1669), pick up the phone and do it now. In the meantime, thank you for all your phone calls and letters and messages to his office and letters to the editor and standouts in front of his office and elsewhere.