A Gift for Jeff Merkley and Cory Booker

Something’s always troubled me about the attitudes and discourse in the US regarding Israel’s ongoing crimes against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank – how otherwise caring, intelligent people rigorously maintain what Israel is doing is somehow justified, or that the conflict is somehow symmetrical. If you’ve seen people derail discussions by absurdly blaming “both sides” (while ignoring the fact the US is arming only one side), you likely know what I’m talking about here.

In the social media savvy Twitter-verse we now occupy, it’s virtually impossible to maintain the level of ignorance required to view the conflict as anything but slow genocide with periodic massacres.

Anyone studying the kill ratio alone will easily conclude that one side firing glorified bottle-rockets is little match against the other dropping US-made laser-guided 500 lb. warheads. Israel just wiped out over 2,000 lives in a matter of weeks, almost all civilians, while sustaining barely a few dozen deaths, almost all soldiers. This is not a war, this is mass extermination.

Regardless of the kill count, the reason this conflict persists is simple: by military force Israel is occupying Palestine, and this alone is an act of war that international law deems any form of resistance to justifiable. But back to the cognitive dissonance for a moment.

IMG_1172IMG_1184This week, US senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) were in Portland to attend a $500.00 a plate fundraising dinner, and to take in a film at the Academy Theater on SE Stark. Some 40 people lined the streets in protest of both senator’s vote in favor of Israel’s recent massacre of Gazans.

These two otherwise fairly progressive politicians opted to sneak through the back door to avoid being confronted by voters who rightfully shouted ‘Shame! Shame!!‘ via mega-phone. How could these two seemingly intelligent men be so blind on this particular issue? Some at the protest asked this question, and I learned the answer has a name: Progressive Except Palestine (PEP).

However, being politicians, there’s another explanation that answers the question: Follow the Money.

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Jeff Merkley has taken in over $160,000.00 dollars from pro-Israel sources, including AIPAC, one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington DC. But this pales in comparison to Senator Booker’s whopping $532,000.00 worth of contributions from Israeli special interests.

Perhaps ducking in the back door to avoid accountability really is worth that much money. If the US senate can unanimously vote in favor of Israel wiping out thousands of lives, one would hope this indicates group think more then selfish perversion. Still, these people have to sleep at night. Maybe their dreams are haunted by dead Palestinians. I certainly hope so.

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Ultimately, the enabling of Israel’s crimes that virtually all US politicians are responsible for will end. Of that there is no doubt. The ongoing massacres, the daily humiliations Palestinians are forced to endure, and the entire system of apartheid within Israel – the world will not tolerate these atrocities much longer. As it was with South Africa, a critical mass of critical world opinion will force a radical, moral change.

The protesters in Portland were there to read the names of the dead to the senators and their supporters – to remind them of the carnage and brutality they so enthusiastically support. It was a gift for them, presented as an appeal to their humanity, an obituary read for their benefit.

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If senators like Merkley and Booker want to remain on the wrong side of history, that’s their choice. Doing so will require them continuing to slither in the side-door, back where trash gets tossed into dumpsters. If that’s the kind of career an elected leader is comfortable with, I pity their legacy.

The people of Palestine have a right to their land, their lives and their cities.

Long live Palestine. See you in the streets.

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