One day, perhaps in 2016, the Democrats will retake control of the House as the nation rejects Tea Party nativism. At that time, please do not award any committee chairs to Democrats who opposed the President’s diplomatic initiative with Iran, for these are the Democrats we can expect to join Republicans in their frenzied mouth-watering rush to another war in the Middle East. To entrust Ted Lieu, Brad Sherman, or Tony Cardenas—among other naysayers in the House—with increased power and prestige would be to set the nation on the wrong self-destructive and militarist course that led to untold carnage in Iraq.
How fortunate for AIPAC leaders that at the midnight hour, when time and patience are running out on Israeli expansionism, they find not a firebrand, but a low-key Democrat to carry their water.
While it is disturbing that my West Los Angeles Congress Member Ted Lieu sided with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and its mega-milllion dollar "Kill the Deal" campaign—against J-Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, a long list of former Israeli military and intelligence officers, the Gulf states, Europe, and our Democratic leadership—it is small comfort that Lieu's support of a congressional veto was of little consequence, except to tip his hand to you; you must now understand that when push comes to shove, Rep. Lieu, who inappropriately enjoyed an AIPAC-sponsored junket to Israel as the deal was pending, might be tempted to fall in line with the Israeli hawks who have been clamoring to bomb Iran.
I joined MoveOn’s nationwide campaign to support an Iran agreement for the most rigorous UN inspections of any nuclear power program. As part of that effort, I led a delegation that met with my often-personable Congress Member Ted Lieu, organized with MoveOn, Peace Action, and Actor Ed Asner to deliver over 2500 pro-deal petition signatures to Lieu’s office, and hosted a candlelight peace vigil in front of the Federal Building in Westwood to thank pro-deal lawmakers, such as Senators Boxer and Feinstein, and Congressional Representatives Adam Schiff, Janice Hahn, Alan Lowenthal, Judy Chu, Xavier Becerra, Linda Sanchez, Karen Bass, Maxine Waters, and more.
Not only was it disappointing to learn of Rep. Lieu's opposition to the President's peace initiative, but on the same day of that announcement came word that Lieu was joining with Republicans to co-sponsor a House resolution (H.Res. 402) to oppose Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against corporations profiting off of the Israeli occupation, companies like Caterpillar that manufacture special bullet-proof tractors with razor sharp blades that quickly demolish Palestinian homes to clear the land for ever-increasing illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Rachel Corrie, the young woman who laid her life on the line to block a Caterpillar tractor, was mowed down and killed when the tractor driver ran her over.
Lieu’s anti-BDS resolution calls on Congress and the President to use their voice and their vote to oppose peaceful boycotts of the Israeli occupation, and calls on state legislatures to pass laws to oppose “politically motivated acts of boycott, divestment from, and sanctions” against Israel. This resolution lays the groundwork for later legislative efforts to defund public universities in which student senators exercise their free speech rights by voting to support BDS. Such efforts, arguably, would be considered anti-constitutional in their “middle-finger” approach to the First Amendment.
What Lieu fails to acknowledge is that BDS is a non-violent form of resistance, far preferable to armed resistance to Palestinian home demolitions that make way for more settlers, which now number 600,000, a number making a two-state solution impossible. How disappointing that our representative, someone who takes progressive stands on LGBT and climate issues, feels compelled to diminish the spirit of the martyred Rachel Corries of the world and silence student senators who vote to divest university portfolios from Motorola, a company the BDS movement describes as providing surveillance systems for illegal Israeli settlements.
How fortunate for AIPAC leaders that at the midnight hour, when time and patience are running out on Israeli expansionism, they find not a firebrand, but a low-key Democrat to carry their anti-BDS water, for the BDS movement just announced a spectacular victory with the decision by Veolia, a European company once providing transit in the illegal settlements, to get out of the "occupation" business altogether after suffering 20-billion dollars in lost contracts, a result of worldwide abhorrence to its complicity in the Israeli occupation.
If you, the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, find Lieu, Sherman, and Cardenas’ opposition to diplomacy troubling, if you find Lieu’s anti-BDS resolution repugnant in its attempt to quash free speech and peaceful resistance, please promise to never award a committee chair to those who so willingly echo the voices of militarism and censorship.
On high-stakes issues of war and peace and human rights and free speech, we need leaders in the House who champion diplomacy and constitutional rights.
I trust you will find and elevate those voices.
Onward to 2016,