Spirit of ’76 has decayed
July 3, 2011
Senate Resolution 185 passed with 89 co-sponsors just in time for a July 4 review of how far from our nation’s roots our policies have strayed. The obnoxious resolution threatens Palestinians with loss of meager U.S. funding and instructs the president to oppose Palestinian efforts to achieve statehood the way Israel did – via a UN declaration. Our senators prefer a negotiated agreement between oppressor and oppressed.
I’m dismayed by the hypocrisy of elected representatives who support a foreign nation that forcefully expands its purposefully nebulous borders at the expense of ethnically profiled landowners who weren’t any threat until they were threatened or worse – ethnically cleansed. It’s no excuse that this resembles early American history.
Reason and fairness and symmetry are not currently part of Israel’s political equation. I don’t even see an “equation.” Israel’s “diplomacy,” with American help, is characterized by dominance, one-sidedness and excessive force.
Have our senators thought about the response of their constituents? My gut response is to start looking for new candidates for 89 seats in the Senate.
I have just returned from a fact-finding trip to see Israel and to meet with people who are affected by policies of violent policing, extended detention, propaganda, unilateral taking of lands, separation barriers and checkpoints. July 4 is an appropriate time for Americans to consider our involvement in oppression and how far from the spirit of 1776 our politics have decayed. What happened to our revolutionary commitment to noble and when necessary violent individual dissent against violations of rights we consider inalienable? The violations that motivated our own nation’s foundation seem modest in comparison to a Palestinian’s daily experience.
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Maybe it’s time to ask how much hypocrisy and denial of rights would justify another revolution like ours.
Activists in Cairo did recently ask me if Americans will experience our own Tahrir Square. I warned them not to wait. Americans are either too rich or too satisfied with our status quo. Most Americans, senators apparently included, are careless or unaware of detrimental, even lethal effects our satisfaction might visit on outsiders like Palestinians. We are frozen like blinded deer into wasteful “defense” expenditures that drain our resources and warp our sensibilities.
July 4 fireworks remind me of sound grenades I’ve seen exploded right in front of me two weeks ago by Israeli “defense” forces expecting to deter Palestinian residents, young, old, men and women, from carrying flags and shouting out non-violent protests against the illegal concrete “security” barrier that carves through their lands. That’s the foreign military you and I support with billions of dollars a year.
Meanwhile, our State Department just decided not to advocate in defense of the interests of American citizens serving as patriotic heroes by standing up to Israeli oppression and violence. One Republican senator has suggested a U.S. military operation against the American boat to Gaza, “Audacity of Hope.” Dirty tricks and sabotage abound in efforts to block the international non violent protest.
You can make this July 4 more than just a celebration of historic dissent and nation-building. It is your chance to express support for heroic stands being taken today for the same freedoms our founders debated and fought for. We can do more for American values than a senate that seeks to prevent today’s oppressed from achieving the same benefits Americans enjoy from our own revolution.