Part I – United States Senator Cardin Echoes the Israeli Line
Propaganda is most effective when subtly planted and the reader remains unaware that a commentary is actually indoctrination. Sometimes the writer is not cognizant that what he has published has been moved by its propaganda effect — sources for the material are actually misleading and publication is facilitated when the commentary fits a particular agenda.
Two recent publications, a response by United States Senator Benjamin Cardin to an Amnesty International plea and an article in Newsweek magazine, “A Plan of Attack for Peace by Daniel Klaidman” (Jan. 12, 2009), demonstrate how far Israel’s supporters can reach to mislead the public. The former remarks, coming from a US Senator, are particularly insidious — careless disregard for a defenseless Palestinian community and an excuse for those whom Amnesty International considers to have shown a lopsided response to the recent violence and who have exhibited lackadaisical efforts to ameliorate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
This article appears in two parts, each of which is a separate article.
Senator Cardin Echoes the Israeli Line
Amnesty International, a well-respected and politically neutral organization, expressed alarm at the events in Gaza and alerted its vast US constituency to prompt their senators to ameliorate the situation. Instead of replying to the urgencies requested by the message, Benjamin Cardin, US Senator from Maryland, responded with general and vague comments and used the e-mail opportunity to indoctrinate his constituents into believing that the violence and killing were all due to Hamas. An insensitivity to creating problems for Jewish people, which might arise from his remarks, added to Senator Cardin’s deceptive manner.
First the Amnesty International e-mail:
With innocent civilians, women and children dying every day, Congress must act.
20 days into the Gaza crisis and the humanitarian crisis there gets worse every day.
Over 1000 Palestinians have been killed; 398 women and children are dead, another 4500 injured, 750,000 lack access to water and one million are without electricity. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians have been killed.
Each day that passes guarantees more innocent civilians will suffer. Tell Congress to act swiftly to help more humanitarian aid and workers enter Gaza and to suspend all transfers of weapons to Israel.
Almost 30,000 of you sent letters to Secretary Rice. Your letters together in concert with separate parallel actions from other Amnesty sections around the world helped bring about a positive vote at the UN late last week2-6. The UN passed a binding resolution 14-0 on January 8th calling for an immediate cease-fire.
But despite mounting evidence of war crimes, both Israel and Palestinian armed groups continue to defy the resolution.
It’s critical that Congress acts. Congress can take two actions that will make a significant impact on the ground:
1. Urge Israel to allow for increased humanitarian supplies into Gaza and press Egypt to allow more wounded Palestinians to seek medical treatment in Egypt.
The Israeli three hour truce to allow for humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza is not sufficient. A spokesman for the UN relief agency UNWRA said “When you are trying to feed 750,000 people a day in Gaza as we are, you need a permanent ceasefire. You can’t do that in a three-hour window.”
Although Egypt has opened the Rafah crossing allowing limited medical help in and injured Palestinians out, the number allowed to seek medical care outside of Gaza needs to increase dramatically. There are currently 4500 wounded Palestinians.
2. Suspend all transfers of weapons to Israel until there is no longer a substantial risk that they will be used for serious violations of human rights or international humanitarian law — such as in attacks that disproportionately kill civilians — while pressing all sides to stop unlawful attacks.
AI is calling for a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups. The US Arms Export Act of 1976 was passed to help guarantee that US-made weapons would only be used for legitimate self-defense and not for violations of internationally recognized human rights. The act requires the State Department to report to Congress when there is a ‘’substantial violation” of the law.
These demands comply with widely recognized international human rights law. Tell Congress to act now, and then please forward this email. Time has run out for the civilians of Gaza and Israel.
Deputy Executive Director
Senator Cardin’s reply, complete with punctuation errors, to the Amnesty International message sent to him by a constituent.
Thank you for contacting me regarding the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.
I share your sadness at the suffering and loss of innocent lives on both sides of this conflict. The international community needs to take strong action to restart the peace process and provide more humanitarian assistance in Gaza .
Hamas’ actions to extend its reach deeper into Israel and its failure to end continuing attacks exacerbates the already fragile humanitarian situation for the residents of Gaza and undermines efforts to attain peace and security in the region. As a result of the fighting, Gaza City and its main medical center, Shiffa Hospital , have been left without electricity and hospitals are pushed beyond their capacity to handle the number of victims. Hamas seems to care more about inflicting damage on Israel than the protection and welfare of its own citizens.
Hamas poses a critical challenge to the regional peace process. Labeled as a terrorist organization but holding seats in the Palestinian government and acting as the controlling authority in Gaza , the organization’s leaders encourage violence and cling to the belief that Israel itself should be destroyed. Questions remain as to whether or not the organization should even be included in peace negotiations, but the fact remains that the threat Hamas poses to Israel is an obstacle to any negotiation efforts.
The U.S. has also continued to provide humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians. It is equally important for the U.S. to take an active role in bringing stability in the region, so that all Palestinians and Israelis can live in peace. I share your concern about the continuing violence and loss of innocent lives in the region, and I support providing U.S. aid to the area. The continuation of violence between Hamas and Israeli forces is straining the progress . I urge Israel and the Palestinians take advantage of the current, high-level European efforts to broker a sustainable cease-fire and a negotiated peaceful settlement.
Rest assured I support continued aggressive diplomatic involvement. The U.S. objective must be for a peaceful and long-lasting resolution to this conflict. Again, thank you for contacting me on this important issue.
Please visit my website at http://cardin.senate.gov to sign up for my e-newsletter.
Note that Senator Cardin does not respond with specifics to any of the humanitarian demands and ignores Amnesty Internationals’ request to: “Tell Congress to act swiftly to help more humanitarian aid and workers enter Gaza and to suspend all transfer of weapons to Israel.”
The Maryland senator shows no regard for the Maryland citizen’s concerns and, in an about face, uses the email exchange to instruct the sender about the crisis.
Unsubstantiated rumors and private opinions that mainly describe Hamas’ “role” in the violence highlight his response. Note the unnecessary insertion of the computer-generated macro adjectives normally used to describe Hamas: “the organization’s leaders encourage violence and cling to the belief that Israel itself should be destroyed.”
Senator Cardin happens to be Jewish. This does not mean he cannot express support for Israel. However, a Senator of Jewish faith should recognize that unqualified support for Israel leaves Jews open to attack by those who suspect that elected Jews use their official office to promote Israel’s agenda regardless of its effects on the U.S. and the world’s peoples. Senator Cardin’s obvious propaganda thrust reflects poorly on the Jewish people and contributes to dangers confronting them.
Just an irresponsible response to a responsible email or another example of how far Israel’s supporters can reach to mislead the public?