Ten score and eighteen years ago, a few thoughtful, wealthy white landowners penned the United States Constitution. Its first three words – “We the People” -affirm that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens.
Article I affirms that all legislative powers “shall be vested in a Congress” who ideally would represent “we the people” and not corporate interests.
2,000 years ago a few, thoughtful, committed social justice radical revolutionary Palestinian Jewish road warriors rose up and challenged the injustices inflicted upon the poor and oppressed by the empire and occupying force at that time: Rome.
Rome fell because of greed, arrogance and neglecting to address the evil that ran through its own heart.
2,000 years ago the empire crucified many thoughtful, committed social justice radical revolutionary Palestinian Jews-and pagans- who rose up and challenged the injustices inflicted upon the poor, the oppressed, upon those without a voice, upon those without representation.
On May 22, 2006 361 Representatives voted in favor while 37 opposed HR 4681. HR 4681 is euphemistically called the “Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act” – but in reality is masterful Orwellian doublespeak, for its only possible fruit, would be to create more terrorists.
HR 4681 imposes draconian economic and diplomatic sanctions against Palestinians just because they exercised their democratic rights and voted for the candidates of their choice.
HR 4681 proposes:
- Restricting US humanitarian aid and potentially eliminating entire US aid projects, such as infrastructure and small business development;
- Threatening to withhold a portion of US dues to the United Nations because it maintains bodies that advocate for Palestinian human rights and seek to hold Israel accountable to international law;
- Defining territory controlled nominally by the Palestinian Authority as a “terrorist sanctuary”, thereby requiring US businesses to obtain special export licenses for most goods destined for the Occupied Palestinian Territories and gutting the provisions of the US free trade agreement with the West Bank and Gaza;
- Refusing visas to members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Palestinian Mission to the UN, even those who belong to political parties that the United States does not classify as “foreign terrorist organizations”;
- Restricting the movement of PLO diplomats at the United Nations and threatening to close the PLO’s office in Washington, and;
- Instructing the US representative to the World Bank to use the considerable strength of the United States in international financial institutions to vote against the continuation of humanitarian aid projects.
HR 4681 is opposed by many leading voices for Israel and Middle East peace, including the Israel Policy Forum, Brit Tzedek, Americans for Peace Now, Churches for Middle East Peace [a broad coalition of churches] and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop.
HR 4681 is another failure of imagination and we the people of the world all suffer for it.
Imagine if during the dramatic disengagement in Gaza a global Marshall Plan had been implemented.
Imagine if the 50-70% unemployment rate in Gaza had been addressed by providing fruit bearing trees, cisterns, and irrigation supplies. Transforming the open air prison into farmland would transform hearts and minds and provide a future with hope as only twenty-five olive trees can sustain the average sized Palestinian family of five.
Imagine a foreign policy that would build security and a chance for a future with hope for the poverty stricken people in impoverished countries, and not use them as cheap labor pools for corporate interests.
The well being of every American depends on the well being of every other person and all the earth.
The well being of every Israeli depends on the well being of every Palestinian.
“Peace in the Middle East is not going to be achieved at gunpoint. It is going to be achieved by negotiations, by people working together; and that process may be ugly, dirty and slow, but it is the only process that will work. To create additional hardship and suffering for the Palestinians is simply going to guarantee more desperate, angry men who are fully determined that they will go forth to kill Israelis or Americans or anybody else. Our purpose here…should be to look to the well-being of the United States, craft a policy which is good for this country. And that policy can only be one which is good for Israel and for the Palestinian people, one which is fair to all, one which puts the United States as a friend and an honest broker of peace to both parties where we can be so accepted” Rep. John Dingell (D-MI-15)
Imagine a Memorial Day in America when we no longer are making war, but have become the peacemakers – and as Christ claimed – it is they who are the children of God.
May 29, 2006.