A Palestinian woman reacts following Israeli bombardment in Rafah

A Palestinian woman reacts following Israeli bombardment in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on December 14, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

(Photo by Said Khatib/AFP via Getty Images)

The Abject Failure of Nearly Every Member of Congress on Gaza

Members of Congress, now providing such easy rhetoric in public statements to justify huge and ongoing military support to Israel, would not be so complacent if they had to dig their own dead children out of the rubble.

The vast majority of Congress members have refused to call for a ceasefire in Gaza during three months of slaughter by Israel’s military. Capitol Hill remains a friendly place for the Israeli government as it keeps receiving massive arms shipments courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.

“Israel would not be able to conduct this war without the U.S., which over time has provided Israel with about 80 percent of the country’s weapons imports,” Voxreports. The distance between the Capitol and Gaza can be measured by the vast disconnect between the standard discourse of U.S. politics and the terroristic carnage destroying Palestinian people.

The human toll includes upward of 22,000 dead, more than 85 percent of Gaza’s 2.2 million population displaced, and the emerging lethal combination of hunger and disease that could kill several hundred thousand more.

The impunity enjoyed by Israeli leaders is enabled by President Biden, who clearly does not want a ceasefire. The same can be said of the vast majority of Congress, with silences and equivocations if not outright zeal to voice support for the wholesale killing of civilians in the name of Israel’s “right to defend itself.”

Members of Congress, now providing such easy rhetoric in public statements to justify huge and ongoing military support to Israel, would not be so complacent if they had to dig their own dead children out of the rubble.

Seventeen members of the House stepped forward in mid-October to sign on as cosponsors of the ceasefire resolution introduced by Congresswoman Cori Bush, “calling for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and occupied Palestine.” The number of those forthright representatives has not risen during the 11 weeks since then.

What we’ve gotten instead has been the molasses-pace drip of some other members of Congress calling for—or kind of calling for —a ceasefire.

Now in circulation from some antiwar organizations is what’s described as “a growing list of members of Congress who have publicly called for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.” But the basis for listing those names—56 House members and four senators—ranges from solid to flimsy.

A case in point is my congressperson, Rep. Jared Huffman of California, whose name is on the list but doesn’t belong there. As ostensible documentation, the list provides a link to a Nov. 19 social-media post by Huffman stating that a ceasefire would require “Hamas releases all hostages, disarms & relinquishes control of Gaza”—in other words, full surrender by Hamas as a prerequisite for an end to Israel’s mass killing of civilians there.

Several other listed House members, such as Reps. Judy Chu (Calif.), Diana DeGette (Colo.), Teresa Leger Fernandez (N.M.) and Jamie Raskin (Md.), have “publicly called for a ceasefire” only with caveats and preconditions—without calling for the U.S.-backed Israeli government to immediately stop killing Palestinian civilians no matter what.

A lot of members of Congress have taken far worse positions. But we should not be grading on a curve. Constituents need accurate information—so they won’t be under the false impression that they’re being represented by an actual firm supporter of a ceasefire.

Even including the most dubious names that have been put in the category of ceasefire supporters, the current list comprises just 13 percent of the House and 4 percent of the Senate. That’s a measure of just how far we have to go in order to end what amounts to congressional support for Israel’s genocidal war on Palestinians in Gaza.

Outpourings of protests against U.S. support for that war have included large nonviolent actions at bridges, highways, train stations, airports, college campuses, legislatures, and more. Some activists have also confronted members of Congress.

But mostly, congressional supporters of Israeli impunity have been spared the nonviolent confrontations that they deserve. Such confrontations can occur at their office on Capitol Hill, but traveling to Washington is not necessary.

Senators and House members have numerous offices back home that are conveniently located for most of their constituents to visit, picket, and nonviolently disrupt—insisting that support for the mass murder in Gaza is morally unacceptable.

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