Politics vs. Integrity: No Brainer!

I remember all the brouhaha surrounding Keith Ellison’s run for the House of Representatives; people were afraid he would institute Islamic Shariah law and therefore felt he was a threat to the security of the US.  He handled himself well throughout all the racist diatribe he faced and prevailed and won election and reelection last fall as well.  Meanwhile another American Muslim was elected to Congress from Indiana named Andre Carson, albeit with a lot less fanfare.  Now I know why.  Politics as it stands today is a business, and congressmen are business people, not representatives in a Republican form of government.  How else can you account for the fact these two Muslims of African-American descent voted either present or for House Resolution 34, which says in part:

expresses vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state……reiterates that Hamas must end the rocket and mortar attacks against Israel…believes strongly that the lives of innocent civilians must be protected to the maximum extent possible…lay(s) blame both for the breaking of the ‘calm’ and for subsequent civilian casualties in Gaza precisely where blame belongs, that is, on Hamas….reiterates its strong support for a just and sustainable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict achieved through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

There’s a lot wrong with the wording of the Resolution and many of the “facts” have been disputed worldwide, and on some of the pages here at Miscellany.  What’s disturbing is that ANYONE could vote for such a lame document that is so  factually inaccurate and easily documented as such, but it passed overwhelmingly, with the votes of 2 Muslim American congressmen…or rather 1.5 votes of the two. Keith Ellison said in part:

Israeli citizens living near the Gaza border have been repeatedly harassed and live daily in fear. Hamas, a terrorist organization founded with the goal of destroying Israel, has launched more than 6,000 rockets and mortars into Israel since 2005.

We need to have compassion for the people of Gaza and the tremendous human suffering there.

That is why I will vote “present” on this resolution concerning the current conflict in Gaza.

There are no recorded remarks for Carson regarding this resolution.  On the one hand this vote dispels the notion that Muslim congressmen are monolithic and contrary to American foreign policy, but it also points out how political office in America tends to foster myopic vision of world events when it comes to Israel.  What I would have liked to see is a more compassionate and reasoned voice like the one offered by Dennis Kucinich, Democrat from Ohio, who said:

In Gaza, the United Nations gave the Israeli army the coordinates of a UN school, and the school was then hit by Israeli tank fire, killing about forty. The UN put flags on emergency vehicles, coordinating the movements of those vehicles with the Israeli military, and the vehicles came under attack, killing emergency workers. The Israeli army evacuated 100 Palestinians to shelter, and then bombed the shelter, killing thirty people.

Emergency workers have been blocked by the Israeli army from reaching hundreds of injured persons. Today’s Washington Post: 100 survivors rescued in Gaza from roads blocked from Israelis. Relief agencies fear more are trapped, days after neighborhood was shelled…Today, the U.S. Congress is going to be asked to pass a resolution supporting Israel’s actions in Gaza. I’m hopeful that we don’t support the inhumanity that has been repeatedly expressed by the Israeli army. The U.S. abstained from a UN call for a ceasefire. We must take a new direction in the Middle East, and that new direction must be mindful of the inhumane conditions in Gaza.

Ellison and Carson could learn a thing or two from Kucinich.  Or there is this even more eloquently expressed opinion from an ordinary citizen, Sarah Shields.

I accuse you, the US Congress, of having voted for US House Resolution 34 by an overwhelming margin, 390-5. In the name of protecting Israel’s security, this Resolution instead protects Israel’s “right” to hold a whole population accountable for the violations of a few. By condoning Israel’s behavior over the past two weeks as self-defense, HR 34 condemns one and a half million Gazans to capital punishment without trial for crimes they have not committed. By publicly acknowledging and approving Israel’s behavior, you now share responsibility for the outcomes.

I accuse you of violating the laws made by the Congress of the United States, laws like the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, which insist that American-made weapons may not be used against civilian populations.I accuse you of supporting flagrant violations of human rights. The combatants you voted to support are required by international law to care for civilian victims of war. Yet the Israeli government denied the International Committee of the Red Cross access to the sites they bombed for four days.

I accuse you of transgressing international law. The United States, as one of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, is required to protect civilians in war, and to call to account anyone who targets them. You have instead voted to support behavior considered criminal according to international law.

I accuse you of putting politics before humanity, of condoning the slaughter of innocents, of supporting war crimes instead of standing up for the most basic human right: the right to live without the terrifying fear of immediate death.

I hold you responsible, each of these 390 members of America’s 111th Congress. I accuse you of complicity in the most serious transgressions that humans can commit.

This is the type of passion we need in American politics, the fervor for going against the “status quo” no matter the stakes, if your position is right.  I salute the Dennnis Kucinichs and Sarah Shields of today who place their humanity before politics or religion or nationality, who make principled positions based on facts that are readily discernible and not on public relations brochures and junkets, and  I ask,  Keith, Andre, where were you when it counted?

A funny

People say the damndest thing!

“Mr. Olmert is wrong,” the official said.

Even if everything had gone according to plan, “she would have abstained. That was the plan,” said the official. “The government of Israel does not make US policy.”

Hilarious!  This from a news article recounting the embarrassing US abstention  of a resolution it originally helped produce! It’s in response to Olmert’s interpretation of how that abstention came about.

“She was left shamed. A resolution that she prepared and arranged, and in the end she did not vote in favour…In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the secretary of state wanted to lead the vote on a ceasefire at the Security Council, we did not want her to vote in favour,” Olmert said.

“I said ‘get me President Bush on the phone’. They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care. ‘I need to talk to him now’. He got off the podium and spoke to me.

“I told him the United States could not vote in favour. It cannot vote in favour of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favour.

and shows the disregard Israeli leaders have for Americans…. Americans are to serve every Israeli whim at the drop of a hat and drop what they’re doing to do so, and how Israelis paint their picture of that relationship among themselves.  That this story found its way in an English medium shows Israelis don’t care we know they have such disdain.  So, while the Ariel Sharon quote following 911 has been cast in doubt, literally spun into non-existence, the “I didn’t care. ‘I need to talk to him now’. He got off the podium and spoke to me.” quote is alive and sourced.  So the next time anyone tells you it’s an urban legend, or anti-semitic to say Israelis are the dog that wags the American tail….just laugh and congratulate them for their chutzpah!