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The Natives Are Restless…The Campaign Against SR09-009

February 5, 2009

A resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, introduced by Senator Joyce Foster passed the Colorado State Senate on Monday by a vote of 32-2. Based on a similar measure that passed overwhelmingly in the US Congress in early January for which AIPAC lobbied hard and successfully, the Colorado resolution reaffirmed the Rocky Mountain state’s support for Israel, put a great deal of the blame for Israel’s war in Gaza on Hamas which it tries to exclude from any negotiating role.

While it does call for negotiations and regrets the loss of civilian lives on both sides, SR09-009’s ultimate effect is to suggest that Israel’s military response in Gaza was appropriate.

“Awful, Awful? Awful Lite?”

Some Coloradoans found that line of reasoning unconvincing. Some thought the resolution `awful, awful’; others, at best, thought it `awful lite.’ A movement against it erupted in the week before the vote. It consisted almost entirely of simply `spreading the word’ by email. Many of state senators were taken aback by the scope and intensity of the opposition that resulted. Actually, the `organizers’ – if you can call us that – of this mini-campaign were equally surprised. We don’t know how many people contacted their state senators but it was easily in the hundreds, perhaps more.

What explains the opposition? Who was behind all this ?

There were several factors involved, among them…

+ despite claims to the contrary, the resolution was lopsided. The tone and content leave the impression that Israel something of an innocent victim with all the blame for the current wave of violence being placed at Hamas’ door. There was no criticism – none whatsoever – of Israel’s actions in Gaza. The resolution was in open solidarity with the Jewish state.

+ no mention – or criticism – was made of the Bush Administration’s role in supporting and encouraging Israel’s actions.

But even more disturbing was what was left out of the resolution.

+ there was no acknowledgment that the Palestinian lands – The West Bank and Gaza – have been under the longest military occupation in modern history, now 42 years in the making. There was not a peep about the extensive and illegal Jewish settlement building in the Occupied Territories and the demolition of more than 12000 Palestinian homes there.

+ nothing in the resolution suggesting that Gaza is not `free’, but instead the largest open air prison in the world sealed and choked by land, air and sea -by a cruel and debilitating siege. Although it grates some, it has become more and more common place to compare the Palestinians in Gaza with the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto or the Russians besieged in Leningrad during World War II.

+ Bush’s overall war on terrorism – one of the most colossal US foreign policy failures ever – is legitimized

Adding Salt To The Wound

Only adding salt to the wound or oil to the fire is that this resolution came as Palestinian bodies were still being pulled out of the rubble in Gaza in a military confrontation that pitted one of the largest and most sophisticated army in the world against a rag tag group of Hamas volunteers with rifles and home made missiles. The likelihood of indictments against Israeli military and political leaders is pronounced enough that the Israeli government has issued warnings to some of its leaders not to travel for fear of indictment by the International Tribunal in the Hague.

Israel became Goliath, the Palestinians, David.

Finally it was very difficult for people concerned to get their hands on the resolution itself. Introduced on Friday (Jan 30) and then voted on Monday (Feb 2) hardly permitted time to study or comment upon its content. This added to the frustration.

IPAC Not AIPAC

The campaign `against’ came together in less than a week. Word of SR09-009 first leaked from Boulder Democratic Party activists. The issue was then quickly picked up via the internet and soon spread statewide and even beyond. Other than Colorado’s Green Party, which did issue a formal statement, there was no organizational mobilization so to speak, Palestinian, Jewish, or otherwise of which I am aware.

We’re just some Coloradoans, Democrats and Greens in the main, `feeling had’ by a cynical resolution claiming to support peace, which doesn’t. We couldn’t let it pass. Worse, now we’re talking about forming our own powerful lobby and calling it IPAC – the Israel-Palestine Action Committee, or something to that effect. It just might happen! That’s about it.

Cheers.

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