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Unofficial Edited Transcript of Debate on Colorado Senate Resolution SR 09-009 Feb 2, 2009 in the Colorado Senate Chamber

February 4, 2009

For a copy of the resolution itself, please click here.

Thanks to Harvie Branscomb for transcribing this:

Immediately below are excerpts for those who don’t want to read it all. For the entire transcript click here.

Note: Below are the comments of the state senators in support of this resolution essentially supporting Israel for its war in Gaza and blaming the entire crisis on Hamas. I will post the resolution itself later today. What stands out in this resolution (and discussion) is what is NOT in the resolution – 42 years of Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, unrestrained settlement building in the West Bank, Gaza the largest open air prison in the world with a seige that commentators have compared to Leningrad (Uri Avnery) or the Warsaw Ghetto (many).

The worst – most rabid, reactionary comments come from Josh Penry, Republican leader of the State Senate and rising star within the state’s Republican Party. A former football star from Mesa College in Grand Junction, no one represents (the oil and gas) interests of his district better. His comments are towards the end.

Senate President Groff: Consideration of Resolutions. Mr. McGowne please read SR 9.

McGowne: SENATE RESOLUTION 09-009 CONCERNING THE STRONG EXPRESSION OF SUPPORT FOR THE STATE OF ISRAEL IN ITS BATTLE AGAINST RECENT TERRORIST ATTACKS AND REAFFIRMING THE STRONG SUPPORT OF THE COLORADO SENATE FOR THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE PROCESS.

President Groff: Senator Foster

Thank you Mr. President. I move for the adoption of Senate Resolution SR 009.

And I’ve invited Senator Brophy up here too because we are co-sponsors of this. This resolution mirrors the resolution that was passed unanimously in the United States Senate just 3 weeks ago. It was resolution 10 and it was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell passed by unanimous consent on that date and it was also passed in the House of Representatives – it was Resolution 34 by a vote of 390 to 5. Its seldom that Congress actually agrees on such issues but at any rate I would like to read the first few resolutions here.

That we express our deep and sincere regret about the innocent loss of human life on both sides of this conflict, extend our condolences to innocent Israeli and Palestinian victims and their families, and express our strong belief that innocent civilians be protected to the greatest extent possible;

That we hereby express our vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and recognize and support its right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism;

That we encourage the Obama administration to work actively to support a durable, enforceable, and sustainable cease-fire in Gaza, at the earliest possible date, that prevents Hamas from retaining or rebuilding its capacity to launch rockets against Israel and allows the long-term improvement of daily living conditions for the ordinary people of Gaza; and

That we reiterate our strong support for the efforts by the United States government to promote a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a serious and sustained peace process that leads to the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside a secure state of Israel.

Thank you

Groff: Senator Brophy

Thank you Mr President, thank you Senator Foster for bringing this important resolution forward. Members it is wholly appropriate that as a General Assembly we stand up for the democratic state of Israel our lone democratic ally in the Middle East at this time. And I think the second section of this be-it-resolved part- the resolution that expresses our support and unwavering commitment is really the heart of this. Members in 1994 under the Oslo accord the state of Israel gave control of the Gaza strip up to the Palestinian Authority. And then in 2005 ultimately pulled all of their personnel out of that area. Members this isn’t a battle over territory. Israel freely gave that territory up to another peoples. This is actually a battle in the long term war for the very survival -the very right to existence of the state of Israel. A free state that allows both genders to vote. A free state that is a beacon of freedom in the Middle East. Members, we should support this resolution; we should support the State of Israel. And again thank you Senator Foster for allowing me the honor of being a co-sponsor on this important resolution.

Groff: Senator Harvey

Thank you Mr. President and Senator Foster thank you also for bringing this forward.

This is an important resolution I think for the State of Colorado to send to the rest of the country and for the rest of the world. As Senator Brophy said Israel is fighting for its— Israel is truly fighting for its life and they have practiced the philosophy of non violence. They have practiced the philosophy of non violence since 2005 when they pulled out of the Gaza Strip and they have had to suffer thousands and thousands and thousands of missiles being dropped on them without any reply or any response what-so-ever. As we hold a resolution today honoring those who practice non violence I think we should hold up the country of Israel. Israel has patiently waited for the world to stand up and say enough is enough. And when the world turned their backs on Israel and didn’t lift a finger to tell Hamas to stop the bombing of Israel and innocent people, finally Israel had to stand up for itself and say enough is enough. Hamas wasn’t dropping bombs on military bases.

Hamas wasn’t dropping bombs on missile silos. Hamas was dropping bombs on innocent citizens in small towns in the Negev which is immediately adjacent to Gaza. It’s important for us all to know when evil raises its head, sometimes violence is necessary to put down that evil. And today is that day for Israel. I cannot imagine any country in the world allowing a neighboring country to continually drop thousands of missiles on their cities for three or four years and never respond.
This is an important message for the world that the United States stands firm hand in hand, arm in arm, with the country of Israel and we say enough is enough. Sometimes evil needs to be put back in its place.

Groff: Senator Schwartz

Thank you Mr President. While I will be supporting this resolution I wish to underscore the need for both sides of the Israeli Palestinian conflict to put down their weapons of war and destruction and rededicate themselves in partnership with the new Obama administration to building a just and lasting peace. Far too many innocent lives on both sides have been lost or crushed in this conflict. We must do everything possible as a State of Colorado and as a nation to endorse and support an enduring peace. This too must be a part of the change the Obama administration will bring to this country.

Groff: Senator Cadman

Thank you Mr. President. I support this resolution. I signed on as a co-sponsor when Senator Foster brought this to me and frankly I was a little bit miffed when I pulled into the circle this morning and was confronted by some people that were protesting this resolution asking that this body reconsider its position. And not having looked at it at that point this morning I got up to the floor and got the revised version of it which basically strengthened my resolve to support it. I would hope that those people that were protesting it would read it. As I shared with the woman who called me this morning as I was reviewing it who was expressing her support for peace which I thought was exactly what this resolution did. So with that I would ask for the adoption of this resolution. I would move amendment 01. It’s really just a grammatical issue. There is the word innocent I think that modifies a sentence that’s in the inappropriate place and having corrected so many documents coming from my children’s school these days I couldn’t let this one go by in good conscience. Senator Foster has accepted this as a friendly amendment and I would ask for an aye vote.

Groff: Senator Heath to the resolution.

Thank you Mr President. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the number of emails and correspondence that I have received asking me not to support this resolution. And my reply to all of them has been the same that I have some concerns with some of the whereases but the meat of the resolution and the four resolves I strongly support particularly As it relates back to Senator Newels senate resolution 008 asking for peace and to me that is the overwhelming part to this resolution that we all want peace in this area of the world and that is why I am voting aye on the resolution.

Groff: Birthday boy, Senator Penry

Thank you Mr President, thank you for recognizing me in that way. Mr. President I join with the others in commending Senator Foster for bringing this resolution. Resolutions are sometime of debatable value but this one is important in drawing a bright line and stating clearly where we stand on this very important issue facing not only our country but the world America has no better ally and no more important partner no more valuable friend than the people of Israel and their government.
In a world mired by tyrants, oppression , radical fundamentalism and hate, Israel is a force for good, a force for freedom liberty and human rights. And as those of us who have been to Israel know the people of Israel stand so strongly for these values because perhaps more than anyone else anywhere else in the world perhaps at any other time the people of Israel have seen the consequences of radicalism and hate.

Senator Cadman referenced the protesters today and those individuals and others would question the right of Israel to defend herself in the face of this radicalism. Some have criticized the Israelis fora military incursion targeted at the Iranian stooge known as Hamas. Some again on the Capitol grounds even here today have called on the Israelis to embrace peace. Such statements are one sided, wrong-headed and irrational. They were the arguments of Neville Chamberlain before World War II. They were wrong then and they are wrong now. Israel has a right to defend herself when rockets rain on Israeli homes and schools.

They have right and an obligation to respond. That some would even question that to me seems to be absurd. The individuals out there holding signs are they from Arvada or Littleton? Are they from the western slope or the eastern plains? If Katyusha and Qassam rockets were raining down on their communities I think they would view the issue very differently. We should stand with the people of Israel. I ask for an aye vote on the resolution.

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