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Another Lop-sided Resolution Supporting Israel’s War Against Gaza Likely To Be Introduced in the Colorado State Legislature

January 29, 2009

I started hearing about a resolution generally supporting Israel’s recent war against the Palestinian people in Gaza to be introduced in the Colorado State Senate rather soon. As of this writing, the said resolution has not been put in the hopper, but there is enough concurrence from diverse sources that 1. such a resolution exists 2. that it will soon be introduced…to write about it.

The moving force behind this initiative is newly elected state senator Joyce Foster. Foster is a former Denver city councilwoman and the wife of Rabbi Stephen Foster. A sense of the Foster’s political influence can be seen in the fact that on January 7th of this year, Rabbi Foster was the first person to speak (he gave the benediction) in the state’s new Senate Chamber. Much of the organizing in support of Israel – both behind the scenes and in the open – happens at Foster’s Temple Emmanuel Synagogue near the Cherry Creek area of Southeast Denver. It is no surprise really to anyone that has followed Middle East politics in Denver that Joyce Foster would be spear-heading such an initiative in the State Senate.

Although I haven’t checked, I would not be surprised if somewhat similar resolutions are being presented nationwide in other state legislatures, spill overs of the AIPAC-orchestrated defense of Israel’s war in Gaza that passed both houses of the US Congress overwhelmingly. Given that recent polls show Americans supporting Israel’s unjust (to put it mildly) incursion into Gaza by more than 60%, it is possible that such a resolution here in Colorado would fly through the State Legislature and have the support of Governor Ritter as well.

Gordon, Borodkin, Foster

And of course we’ve seen this attempt to bless Israeli military aggression before – specifically during the July, 2006 Israeli invasion and mass bombing campaign against Lebanon – when the legislature, not even in session, still managed to issue a statement through a small standing committee condoning Israel’s actions. But that attempt backfired somewhat as peace activists held an `alternative press conference’ exposing the rather shady process by which the state legislature had come to take this decision.

And that little exchange seemed to have undermined, at least in part, the political careers of some local political aspirants.

His participation in organizing legislative support for Israel was, at least, a factor in Ken Gordon’s failed bid to become Colorado’s secretary of state. To no avail he spent a fair amount of time trying to mend his fences with some of the state’s peace activists (and Green Party members), but the damage was done and at least a portion of his support base slipped away. There is a fair amount of circumstantial evidence to substantiate this hypothesis. Indeed, I just recently once again heard mention of his taking Green Party activists to coffee and breakfast in the early fall of 2006 to try to bring them round to his support base again. All this is interesting beyond the particulars as it suggests the degree to which these liberal dems – some of whom supported going to war with Iraq, and usually `stand up for Israel’ actually need the support of the peace movement to a degree not usually acknowledged.

Someone else who might have lost for having failed to convince her constituents she was sufficiently anti-war was Boulder congressional hopeful Joan Fitz-Gerald, who urged the Colorado state legislature (along with Gordon) to support sanctions against Iran (specifically to get the legislature to get the state pension fund PERA to divest from companies doing business with Iran’s energy sector). `Fitz’ as her friends call her, lost to Jared Polis, gay multi-millionaire yuppy politico who ran a more consistent anti-Iraq war campaign. I don’t like him either, mostly because I get a little nauseous watching local dot-com millionaires throw their money around and parley their wealth into political power. I know, I know…that is how things are done these days. Still…

In any case, bringing up Gordon’s situation is not entirely irrelevant to Foster. Gordon was forced to vacate his seat because of term limits. A local (and vocal) state representative – Alice Borodkin (like Gordon and Foster) also Jewish, hoped to replace Ken Gordon in the state senate and felt – and I believe with some justification – that she `deserved’ or had earned the seat, especially as a result of her work for womens rights in the state house. I doubt that Borodkin’s politics on the Middle East differ much from Foster’s or Gordons, but that didn’t seem to matter.

Borodkin’s Downfall – Her Independence

The problem with Borodkin for the Fosters seemed to be that she is too independent-minded, not enough of a herd animal, probably not willing to follow AIPAC’s line to the necessary `t’. And so she was unceremoniously dumped. Or so it seemed. Joyce Foster was put up to challenge Borodkin. Gordon (and Andrew Romanoff) dutifully supported Foster. With the support of the local Democratic Party machine in that neighborhood, in which her husband, Rabbi Foster is a key player, Joyce Foster won handily against Borodkin in the Democratic Party primary and also easily won the seat (I forget if she ran unopposed) and is now in the State Senate.

Just before the US invasion of Iraq began in 2003, an initiative to get the Denver City Council to oppose going to war was launched by local peace activists, among them Paula Vandusen and myself. It was surprising to see the outpouring of opposition to going to war among so many fellow Denverites, enough so that a resolution – albeit weaker than I would have wanted – was presented before the City Council. Joyce Foster did not support the anti-war resolution – invoking, although obliquely – the Jewish experience in the Holocaust. Foster failed to explain how her concerns about the holocaust prevented her from opposing the US invasion of Iraq. I still don’t get it . She abstained, which in that circumstance was the same as voting for the war.

The Not-Yet Introduced Resolution

True enough, a resolution supporting Israel’s war against Gaza has yet to be introduced and therefore it’s hard to criticize it. How then do we know it exits? There is some circumstantial evidence

– the first bit came to me second or third hand, admittedly, that another state senator, himself a rather strong Israel supporter I am told, had seen Foster’s resolution and even he tried to tone it down but his attempts failed.

– the second piece of evidence comes from state senator responding to an inquiry from one of his constituents. I quote: `Thanks for your input on this critical, but sensitive issue. There will be a resolution introduced by Senator Joyce Foster. I will watch to see if the language accomplishes your goals’.

As they say, the plot thickens.

By now Senator Foster is well aware of some opposition to her initiative and from what I can tell that opposition is growing and is coming in from all corners of Colorado. Let me quote from a few of the emails that I have seen on the subject

+This from a Democratic Party activist on the Western Slope to her state senator:

`I have become aware of a resolution in support of Israel’s invasion of Gaza that will soon be proposed in the Colorado Legislature. I strongly oppose this resolution. My husband and I have good friends and strong ties to Israel, having been there during the 1967 war. Nonetheless, we recognize Israel’s invasion as a last ditch effort to force the world’s hand before President Obama could take office and approach things in a more diplomatic way (which we have just seen this week). I believe strongly that a huge number of Coloradoans realize that a military solution is not possible in the Middle East. The last 4000 years have proved this. Now, the invasion has further complicated an already challenging diplomatic effort. ‘

+Another Western Slope Dem wrote her state senator:

. As an active, concerned Colorado voter and United States citizen, I am writing you regarding a proposed Resolution in support of Israel’s invasion of Gaza. If such a Resolution is introduced, I request support for the following:

– The Resolution contain language that supports and furthers a peace process through diplomatic channels, excluding that language that would escalate an already highly sensitive and volatile situation;

– The Resolution contain language that supports a two state solution for Israel and Palestine, which is in the best interests of both Israel and Palestine;

– The Resolution contain language that recognizes the humanitarian crisis that has continued to exist in Gaza, and has only been made worse by the invasion.

I do this in memory of my grandparents, who participated in a fact-finding mission after the creation of the State of Israel. I do this in honor of all those who are working diligently to find a peaceful solution to this tragic situation.

+Yet another example from a Denverite, poker buddy of mine to his state senator:

“I don’t know if you have formed an opinion regarding the upcoming resolution by Senator Joyce Foster, calling for support for Israel’s war in Gaza. I urge you to vote against it.

It is easy to understand the sympathy extended to Israeli victims of Hamas rocket attacks. What is puzzling is the widespread lack of concern in this country, and in this state, for the Palestinians living in Gaza, blockaded and slowly strangled by an Israeli policy of subjugation through humiliation, starvation, and denial of medical supplies.

The answers to the problems of the Middle East will never be simple. The cause of peace is only weakened by unrestrained cheering for one side or the other. The U.S. has been guilty of this for far too long.”?

But my favorite response to this comes from Rev. Bob Kinsey, Green Party Candidate for the US Senate in last November’s race. While Mark Udall won, it has perhaps gone un-noticed that Kinsey got more than 50,000 votes, suggesting that he has a base at least as big as that of Joyce Foster.

Kinsey wrote:

“How about some resolutions on health care for all Coloradoans.”

Strange time for a resolution supporting Israel’s war in Gaza. The legislature is involved in intense deliberations over which programs to cut and which pork-barrel programs to preserve. Not the best time to throwing a foreign policy issue, with little to no relevance to the affairs of Colorado into the hopper, and one that will be controversial at that. I don’t think this will stop Foster’s initiative though. Afterall, if I am correct, it was precisely to introduce such legislation that she was promoted and elected in the first place.

Although not much of a betting man – our poker circle plays for pennies and nickels mostly – I would wager that 1. the resolution will soon be introduced 2. that it will be either awful-awful or at best awful – lite. 3. that Foster will find an appropriate neanderthal pro-war Republican to co-sponsor it 4. That it will be dealt with very quickly to avoid giving the opposition – as usual, poorly organized, underpaid, scattered…if noble…to oppose it. 5. That the governor – (who for some reason is about to get a human rights award from the Anti-Defamation League) – will sign it in a public ceremony. 6. That the illusion will be created that the people of the good state of Colorado supported the Israel invasion of Gaza and the unmitigated slaughter and terrorizing of its population, for which no excuse, not even the firing of Hamas’ home made fire-cracker like missiles, can justify…

We Need Someone To Stand Up For the Coyotes!

Actually Joyce Foster has introduced a piece of legislation already into this session. She is co-sponsoring a VERY important bill asking that the Dept of Wildlife offer better protection to rich suburbanites whose properties are `harassed’ by coyotes. Now that is truly serving the public interest isn’t it. And I don’t suppose the fact that her son, a lobbyist in the state legislature for realtors and developers, had anything to do with it! And it’s so unfair…afterall who will be lobbying for the coyotes! Who was here first? But then, don’t underestimate the power of the coyote lobby as Ian Tyson reminds us:

The coyote is a survivor.
Reckon he’s got to be.
Lives in the snow at forty below
Or Malibu By The Sea

Well, the cowboy is a conundrum,
A contradiction in this age.
He says he’s doin’ fine on the poverty line
On a working cowboy’s wage.
The whiskey bottle costs thirteen bucks,
The big prairie moon is free.
So who’s the dumber son of a bitch:
The little coyote or me?

– verse from a song `The Cowboy and The Coyote’ by Ian Tyson

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