by Andrea Burns
Two candidates identifying themselves as progressives in Massachusetts’ primary election, Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III and Jesse Mermell, are nevertheless signaling their support for one-sided policies against Palestinian human rights that are rejected by most Democrats.
Massachusetts Peace Action reaffirms our support for Sen. Ed Markey for U.S. Senate and Ihssane Leckey for Congress in district 4. We call for a new politics on Israel and Palestine that gives equal regard to the rights for both peoples and is based on international law and human rights.
Kennedy commented in an interview published Wednesday in Jewish Insider that Sen. Markey has been endorsed by groups like Massachusetts Peace Action that call for a new Palestine/Israel policy. “Having the senator highlight some of those organizations and individuals gives a lot of people pause,” Kennedy warned, after being endorsed by 80 Israel supporters.
Jesse Mermell, a candidate in the CD4 race for Congress, has also moved in the past month to take significantly more anti-Palestinian positions, even as she seeks to portray herself as the progressive candidate in the race. Mermell has changed her answers on two Israel/Palestine issues between February and now.
In an updated questionnaire she filed with Massachusetts Peace Action on July 29, Mermell withdrew her commitment to oppose anti-BDS legislation. And in a statement to the Jewish News Syndicate, Mermell also withdrew her support for Rep. Betty McCollum’s bill, HR.2407, preventing US aid from being used to hold Palestinian children in military detention in violation of international standards on the treatment of children. In the questionnaire, Mermell also declined to “Skip the Trip” to Israel which is provided to newly elected members of Congress and paid for by anti-Palestinian lobby group AIPAC.
Her opponent for progressive support in the CD4 race, Ihssane Leckey, holds firmly to a pro-peace, pro-international law, pro-human rights position on all three issues that gives equal regard to the rights of both Palestinians and Israelis. See Mermell’s February questionnaire: https://buff.ly/2YF0aCe, her July questionnaire: https://buff.ly/3gvK83D, and Leckey’s questionnaire: https://buff.ly/34ySViL.
Data shows that some political leaders are out of step with where most Americans, especially Democrats, are on this issue. According to a 2016 Brookings poll, 60% of Democrats “support imposing some economic sanctions or taking more serious action” in response to Israeli settlements. Similarly, 48% of Democrats who have heard of the Palestinian call for BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) say they support it, and 70% of Democrats support Palestinian statehood. 18 College Democratic chapters endorse a call for changes to the 2020 Democratic party platform, including adding support for Palestinian rights in addition to Israeli security, and opposition to Israeli settlement expansion, ongoing occupation and proposed unilateral annexation.
Massachusetts Peace Action is proud to reaffirm our support for Senator Markey for reelection to the Senate. We endorse Senator Markey for his decades-long record of leadership for nuclear disarmament, on climate change including the Green New Deal and because he favors diplomacy over military intervention.
We endorse Ihsanne Leckey for her strong advocacy of the public interest over corporate interests and because we believe her experience as an immigrant makes her uniquely positioned to center her foreign policy on respect for international law and human rights.
Our organization wants peace for the Palestinians, many of whom are living under occupation and military rule and peace for the Israelis who feel threatened by years of conflict. The destinies and well being of both are inextricably linked. After 70 years, we support all peaceful means to achieve equal political and human rights for both peoples.
As with racial justice in this country, peace cannot be achieved by favoring one group of people over another. Unfortunately, special interests in this country can blind us to doing what is right and impede the work for justice, human rights and peaceful solutions to never ending conflicts.
Joseph Kennedy III and Jesse Mermell call themselves progressive while at the same time aligning with the Israel lobby. We believe Senator Markey and Ihsanne Leckey will be allies in the work for a more just foreign policy that will lead to a more resilient and secure country and world. See our full list of candidate endorsements in the September 1 primary.
Andrea Burns is on the board and executive committee of Massachusetts Peace Action and a co-chair of its Legislative/Political Committee