With Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) provoking specific ire, Democratic members of Congress are in the hot seat on Monday as human rights organizations demand they raise their voices to denounce Israel's attacks on peaceful Palestinian protesters.
During the day's protests along the barrier between Israel and Gaza—the latest in a six-week series of demonstrations—the Israeli army fired live ammunition at Palestinians, killing over 50 and wounding thousands. The bloodshed, which resulted in the the highest death toll since the demonstrations began March 30, is overwhelming an already decimated health system in the blockaded territory, and comes the same day the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem opened.
Ilya Sheyman, the executive director of MoveOn Political Action, said, "We call on every single Democratic elected official to use their platform and power to demand an immediate end to Israel's attacks on peaceful protesters in Gaza, and commit to working for a lasting and just peace between Israelis and Palestinians."
"Republicans have repeatedly shown that they are on the wrong side of questions of war and human rights; Democrats must show voters that they are different—that they are the party of peace, that they will not remain quiet as dozens of nonviolent protesters are killed, and that they refuse to carry water for reckless decisions made by Trump and his war cabinet," he added.
This is a massacre.
I hope my peers have the moral courage to call it such.
No state or entity is absolved of mass shootings of protesters. There is no justification. Palestinian people deserve basic human dignity, as anyone else.
Democrats can’t be silent about this anymore. https://t.co/wJGATOtDsR
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) May 14, 2018
While there are at least a few members of Congress, including Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who have taken to their public platforms to denounce what Amnesty International said amounted to a "shameless violation of international law, in some instances constituting war crimes," Schumer, the Senate's number one Democrat, went in the exact opposite direction.
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In a statement, Schumer praised the Trump administration's moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—calling it "a long overdue move" and boasting of how he "sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago."
In response to Schumer's statement, writer and radio host Katie Halper tweeted: "As a Jew, I'd like to thank Chuck Schumer @SenSchumer for proving that we can be just as bigoted, backwards & Islamophobic as Donald Trump. If we kill them, do they not bleed?"
As a Jew, I’d like to thank Chuck Schumer @SenSchumer for proving that we can be just as bigoted, backwards & Islamophobic as Donald Trump. If we kill them, do they not bleed? pic.twitter.com/lT1JQfJkaO
— Katie Halper (@kthalps) May 14, 2018
Another constituent, Katherine Gallagher, senior staff attorney at the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, responded by urging people to call Schumer's officer to "let your voice opposing unlawful move of U.S. embassy—as Palestinian protesters being gunned down—be heard."
— Katherine Gallagher (@katherga1) May 14, 2018
The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights is also drawing renewed attention to the fact that "Palestinians have the right to protest without paying for it with their lives." In a petition urging people to contact their members of Congress, it says, "Israel is expecting to act with impunity—again. But you can help hold it accountable for its excessive use of force against Palestinian demonstrators."