I met with Senator Dick Durbin’s Foreign Policy advisor in Washington D.C. on March 2. I was only allowed 15 minutes, while all day I saw AIPAC lobbyists spend hours in the hallways and offices lobbying our U.S. Congress. (Senator Kirk’s staff refused to see me). I passionately outlined the reason why the progressive Durbin, whom I usually agree with 90% of the time and who I always voted for, should boycott the speech or walk out on Netanyahu’s speech the following day:
1) Netanyahu is a war criminal who, without shame, guides and leads the Zionist government policies of Apartheid toward Palestinian children and their families.
2) The USA only has one area where we can non-violently and significantly impact Mideast policy easily by withholding the $9.9 million in U.S. taxes (and weapons) sent daily to Israel to force Israel to End the Occupation, Apartheid, and the concentration camp called Gaza (exactly as the world forced South Africa to end their Apartheid government).
3) We are the only country in the world arena openly supporting Israel Zionist Government Apartheid.
4) Netanyahu’s racist disrespect of President Barack Obama is well known and to be there at this speech, to allow this arrogant Israeli politician fighting to win a close election at home in two weeks, is incredibly, transparently insulting to the American public.
Senator Durbin’s FPA, Erum Ali, condescendingly suggested our movement focus on “doable” strategies, such as preventing future bills the Republicans will propose to prevent Palestinian aid. To which I replied with great restraint, that the USA had already withheld the millions we pledged to the United Nations last fall to repair the damage to the Gaza infrastructure, homes and schools, per Israel’s demands.
Senator Durbin went to the speech and stayed as we yelled on the phone and tweeted for him to walk out. AIPAC money filled the upper galley chambers of Capitol Hill with their supporters who yelled loudly and cheered Netanyahu in front of the American public. Disgusted and sick to my stomach, I returned to Oak Park, my home of 31 years, more determined to advance the Palestinian cause.
Free Palestine, end the occupation now!