In support of invoking an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, members from the American Palestinian Women’s Association, CODEPINK: Women for Peace, and members of Doctors Against Genocide descended on the Hart Senate Office Building November 16. The groups called on ten women senators — six of whom have received substantial campaign donations from American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) — to do everything they can to bring about a ceasefire in Gaza in ending the senseless slaughter there.
At each office, several activists spoke to attentive staff members imploring them to convey their messages, asking that the member vote in favor of an immediate ceasefire. They also provided a binder with photographs of victims in Gaza especially children, along with the names of 5,000 children killed to show compelling evidence of the horrific and brutal carnage the Israeli invasion has imposed upon so many innocent people.
Only Senator, Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) whose staff who was contacted by telephone refused to meet with the activists.
Outside of Senator Maria Cantwell’s (D-WA) office, speaking with a staff member, CODE Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin asked why the senator had not called for a ceasefire to which he responded: “She has not called for a ceasefire yet because that is not her position right now.” When asked why it was not her position, he said: “She has a different view, you know although she has not made a public statement, she is certainly talking to her colleagues and accessing what the options are. I have nothing else I can say about her position.”
That answer was challenged by a doctor who asked if her position was that “Israel has a right to defend itself” and if so to make it clear to Senator Cantwell that “under international law, Israel has committed a number of war crimes and right now as we speak, the ICC (International Criminal Court) is going to sue Biden and the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense. The doctor reminded the staff member that under the Leahy Law “We (the U.S. by law) cannot not supply weapons to those who can possibly commit genocide and war crimes. So, all of the senators and all of the congressmen are under warning now that they can get sued. And they will be held accountable.”
“She should be on the right side of history and if she or you or any of you have ever questioned what you would have done during the Holocaust or during the Civil Rights movement, you’re doing it right now.”
Another doctor reflected that she likened the war in Gaza to a “genocide televised” with international media and online access. “If we can’t end this genocide with all this information, I don’t know what has become of us. Netanyahu cannot use this war for his own personal gain, these are people, they are human. Our hearts go out to the people and especially to the doctors in Gaza. They are our heroes and our angels.”
A member of the American Palestinian Women’s Association made the urgent plea to the senators’ staff members that she could not believe that “We are here pleading for your humanity,” that seeing images of injured and dead children on TV and babies dying “We have to speak up, we cannot stand silent for this. We have to stop the bombing of the kids, our babies (paid for) with our tax money. Noting that every five minutes a child is being killed, it is in our politicians’ hands to stop the war now!”
Another doctor described Israeli fliers being dropped on residents’ homes in Northern Gaza warning them to leave or they could be considered as “colluding” with Hamas and subject to attacks and bombing. “There are many of us who know people who do not have that ability to move. They have family who are disabled, they have family who are elderly, they have newborn children.”
“I don’t understand the concept of providing aid to allow for our tax dollars to provide bombs to create the victims…and then we are going to ask people to stich them up to try and save them. This is idiotic. It is insanity.”
Another activist conveyed a message from a Gaza resident to staff members in telling of cooking on open wood fires, that having canned food or vegetables were now a luxury and that having drinkable water now “…is like a dream. I see many people now on the roads holding their packs, their eyes tearing up at the memories they are leaving behind at the destruction of all their efforts over the years. I see children injured with muddy feet. Mothers running bare feet with their babies.”
The writer went on to say “Now I am on a roof when I look up at the night sky and see all the stars, I am enjoying them when I realize there is something abnormal about them. Normal stars don’t move around or turn off. I’m puzzled until I realize that my sky is full of unmanned war planes and drones. I wish that one day I will be able to stare at real stars in the sky without being bombed any second.”
The senators who were visited during the direct action are listed below. Those who have received campaign donations from AIPAC are shown with their total career donations reported in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs as of September 2022.
Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) $422,490
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) $573,073
Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) $742,311
Maggie Hassan (D-NH) $710,936
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) $463,499
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) $572,075
Kristen Sinema (A-I)
Tina Smith (D-MN)
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
(This article has appeared in Nuzeink)
Phil Pasquini is a freelance journalist and photographer. His reports and photographs appear in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Pakistan Link and Nuze.ink. He is the author of Domes, Arches and Minarets: A History of Islamic-Inspired Buildings in America.
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