In August, 2015, 57 brand new members of the U.S. House of Representatives bowed their heads and promised to obey their Israeli overlords. They allowed themselves to be taken to Israel, plied with good food and propaganda. They then returned home to do Israel’s bidding in the Congressional seats that Israel helped them win. Sixty were invited, but only three decided not to go, for unknown reasons.
But isn’t there a more innocent explanation? Perhaps they just wanted to learn more about the issue and would equally have accepted an invitation to visit Palestine and see it from a Palestinian point of view. Nothing wrong with giving equal opportunity to both sides.
The Free Palestine Movement tested this theory and found it wanting. We sent a personalized invitation to exactly the same members of Congress to come to Palestine at our expense. Not a single one accepted. Although we sent a followup to those who did not respond the first time, the vast majority never responded at all. A few said that they could not make time in their schedule, not even when we suggested that they could wait as long as their next term. Only one, Brad Ashford of Nebraska, said that he was working with some of his constituents to visit Palestine. (We have been able to find no evidence of such an initiative.)
Israel, through its US Lobby, has of course been doing this for more than half a century. There are hardly any members of Congress that have not accepted an invitation at least one time during their career, often more. Can you name any other country with such a devoted following in the U.S. Congress?
The reason, of course, is that the Israel Lobby has a reputation of making or breaking congressional careers, and that members of Congress are x-rayed to assure that they possess no detectable spine before they take office. There is more pushback from some Israeli newspapers than from the US Congress.
And why not? There has never been any price to pay for obeying Israel. In fact, candidates compete to do favors for Israel and to get donations managed by Israel’s Lobby, with little or no consideration of how much they are robbing their constituents.
But this time it’s different. We may not be able to persuade members of Congress to look at both sides of the Israel question, nor to ask why US taxpayer money is supporting an Israeli ethnic cleansing campaign against Palestinians, nor why our roads are not paved nor our bridges repaired nor our children educated. But we can show the depravity of our elected officials. We can demonstrate their hypocrisy and their bias and dishonest treatment of US foreign policy, which results in war, death and destruction for all but the tiny number of super-wealthy profiteers whose hands are covered in blood.
That’s why the Free Palestine Movement is running the ad below on the sides of buses in San Francisco. It is why we are making the same ad available at cost as a 3″ x 9″ sticker to anyone who wants to use it. It’s why we’re ready to share the cost of a display ad on buses or anywhere else with any group that wants to run the ad anywhere in the US, for as long as our funds last.
It is only a start, but we can at least begin to hold our elected officials accountable. We can make them begin to pay a price for selling out both the American and the Palestinian people to Israel.