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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

54 people with guts - thank you!

I often talk junk about Congress people and how they want to keep their jobs so they bow to the Israel lobby, but if just for a day, there is hope.

They used the words "collective punishment." I really am impressed!

Representatives, unlike most senators, won't let you write them unless you are a constituent, so I'll have to thank them here on my turf:

I want to thank you for your letter to President Obama to ask him to help pressure Israel to act according to international law and respect human rights and basic needs of Palestinians. My own representatives have failed miserably in taking this stand (or any on this issue), so I say a special thank you for stepping up in the absence of their moral stand for representing my interests and bringing them before our President.

The right would have us believe that they represent the interests of Christians in supporting Israel unconditionally. On the contrary, such abused and marginalized people as the Palestinians under brutal Israeli control are the very people Jesus went to. As a Christian, I applaud you for taking this stand.

AIPAC has tried to silence voices like ours who desire more balance in our approach to the Israeli Palestinian problem so as a voter (though not in your district) I thank you for risking your seat doing what is right.

Thank you for your courage and your understanding of the real situation in Israel/Palestine.

Please continue to stand for human rights and international law for the betterment ourselves, the country and our security.

Sent January 21, 2010

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for your ongoing work to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for your commitment of $300 million in U.S. aid to rebuild the Gaza Strip. We write to you with great concern about the ongoing crisis in Gaza.

The people of Gaza have suffered enormously since the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt following Hamas’ coup, and particularly following Operation Cast Lead. We also sympathize deeply with the people of southern Israel who have suffered from abhorrent rocket and mortar attacks. We recognize that the Israeli government has imposed restrictions on Gaza out of a legitimate and keenly felt fear of continued terrorist action by Hamas and other militant groups. This concern must be addressed without resulting in the de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip. Truly, fulfilling the needs of civilians in Israel and Gaza are mutually reinforcing goals.

The unabated suffering of Gazan civilians highlights the urgency of reaching a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we ask you to press for immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza as an urgent component of your broader Middle East peace efforts. The current blockade has severely impeded the ability of aid agencies to do their work to relieve suffering, and we ask that you advocate for immediate improvements for Gaza in the following areas:

* Movement of people, especially students, the ill, aid workers, journalists, and those with family concerns, into and out of Gaza;

* Access to clean water, including water infrastructure materials,

* Access to plentiful and varied food and agricultural materials;

* Access to medicine and health care products and suppliers;

* Access to sanitation supplies, including sanitation infrastructure materials;

* Access to construction materials for repairs and rebuilding;

* Access to fuel;

* Access to spare parts;

* Prompt passage into and out of Gaza for commercial and agricultural goods; and

* Publication and review of the list of items prohibited to the people of Gaza.

Winter is arriving and the needs of the people grow ever more pressing. For example, the ban on building materials is preventing the reconstruction of thousands of innocent families’ damaged homes. There is also a concern that unrepaired sewage treatment plants will overflow and damage surrounding property and water resources.

Despite ad hoc easing of the blockade, there has been no significant improvement in the quantity and scope of goods allowed into Gaza. Both the number of trucks entering Gaza per month and the number of days the crossings have been open have declined since March. This crisis has devastated livelihoods, entrenched a poverty rate of over 70%, increased dependence on erratic international aid, allowed the deterioration of public infrastructure, and led to the marked decline of the accessibility of essential services.

The humanitarian and political consequences of a continued near-blockade would be disastrous. Easing the blockade on Gaza will not only improve the conditions on the ground for Gaza’s civilian population, but will also undermine the tunnel economy which has strengthened Hamas. Under current conditions, our aid remains little more than an unrealized pledge. Most importantly, lifting these restrictions will give civilians in Gaza a tangible sense that diplomacy can be an effective tool for bettering their conditions.

Your Administration’s overarching Middle East peace efforts will benefit Israel, the Palestinians, and the entire region. The people of Gaza, along with all the peoples of the region, must see that the United States is dedicated to addressing the legitimate security needs of the State of Israel and to ensuring that the legitimate needs of the Palestinian population are met.


Members of Congress


* Raul Grijalva D-AZ7


* Lois Capps D-CA23
* Sam Farr D-CA17
* Bob Filner D-CA51
* Barbara Lee D-CA9
* Loretta Sanchez D-CA39
* Pete Stark D-CA
* Michael Honda D-CA15
* Lynn Woolsey D-CA6
* Jackie Speier D-CA12
* Diane Watson D-CA33
* George Miller D-CA7


* Jim Himes D-CT4


* Andre Carson D-IN7


* Bruce Braley D-IA1


* John Yarmuth D-KY3


* Elijah Cummings D-MD7
* Donna Edwards D-MD4


* Michael Capuano D-MA8
* William Delahunt D-MA10
* Jim McGovern D-MA3
* John Tierney D-MA6
* John Olver D-MA1
* Stephen Lynch D-MA9


* John Conyers D-MI14
* John Dingell D-MI 15
* Carolyn Kilpatrick D-MI13


* Keith Ellison D-MN5
* Betty McCollum D-MN4
* James Oberstar D-MN8

New Jersey

* Donald Payne D-NJ10
* Rush Holt D-NJ12
* Bill Pascrell D-NJ8

New York

* Yvette Clarke D-NY11
* Maurice Hinchey D-NY22
* Paul Tonko D-NY21
* Eric Massa D-NY29

North Carolina

* David Price D-NC4


* Mary Jo Kilroy D-OH15
* Marcy Kaptur D-OH9


* Earl Blumenauer D-OR3
* Peter DeFazio D-OR4


* Chaka Fattah D-PA2
* Joe Sestak D-PA7


* Peter Welch D-VT


* Jim Moran D-VA8


* Jim McDermott D-WA7
* Adam Smith D-WA9
* Jay Inslee D-WA1
* Brian Baird D-WA3

West Virginia

* Nick Rahall D-WV3


* Tammy Baldwin D-WI2
* Gwen Moore D-WI4


* Glenn Nye D-VA2

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