Action #1 – Say no to S.1 and H.R. 336 – Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019
Minimal Script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want to THANK Senator/Rep [___] for OPPOSING S.1 (sen.)/ H.R.336 (rep.) – “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019″, for its degradation of our citizens’ first amendment rights and its lack of any measurable requirements for peaceful resolution.
- Check your senators here. (Yay! Neither Feinstein or Harris are cosponsors.)
- Check your reps here. (Yay! Neither Brownley nor Carbajal are cosponsors.)
Rep. Julia Brownley: email, (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: email. (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Who is my representative?: hq-salsa.wiredforchange.com
Bills labeled 1, like H.R. 1 and S.1, are generally assumed to be the keynote legislation of that legislative body. Their most important issues. The House version deals with restoring basic democratic norms. The GOP-controlled Senate version, completely tone-deaf to the plight of shutdown-affected workers slipping into economic crisis, focused their debut S.1 bill on giving Israel $38 BILLION dollars over 10 years in the largest military aid package in U.S. history.
This gift, a 10-year extension to the current 47 years of perpetual war, represents the bare minimum, not the upper limit in terms of money we’ll be sending them, along with money to Jordan, and sanctions on Syria, while a removing the 1st amendment from Americans who help pay for all of this with their taxes.
An excited Marco Rubio, so close to paying off his major pro-Israel billionaire investors, had to be reminded by his constituents that his focus should have been on opening our own government, not giving our money to other ones.
How did we wander so far down this anti-First Amendment highway?
“By encouraging retaliation by the State against American citizens for making decisions about what to buy and what not to buy in their private lives, a dangerous and chilling precedent has been approved by 74 U.S. Senators in order to shield a foreign country from criticism and the consequences of grassroots activism. Under the guise of preventing “anti-Semitism,” this bill represents a fraught, Orwellian overreach by Congress into the private lives of all Americans and their right to make politically-motivated decisions.” (mintpressnews)
In the 1970’s, the Export Administration Act was passed in response to the Arab League’s boycott of Israel, which required U.S. businesses to join them as a condition of doing business. To prevent foreign countries from bullying U.S. businesses into compulsory boycotts, the EAA prohibited U.S. companies from entering into agreements with foreign governments to boycott countries friendly to the United States. Supporters of last year’s HR 1697/ S.720 – “The Israel Anti-Boycott Act” say that their new legislation just expands the definition of bullies from foreign governments to international organizations, like the United Nations Human Rights Council, whose resolution of March 24, 2016, urged countries to pressure companies to divest from, or break contracts with, Israel.
Prioritizing the concerns of Israel over Americans’ constitutionally guaranteed First Amendment protections, has already infiltrated to the state level. In 2017, GOP Gov. Greg Abbott signed the law that made Texas the 17th state to prohibit companies from boycotting Israeli, barring offenders from being contracted by state agencies. Already, a speech pathologist in the Texas public school system has lost her job because she refused to sign this oath pledging not to boycott Israeli products.
So what is this BDS, that people would lose their jobs over?
For $38 billion, we demand meaningful actions towards peace.
The BDS Movement, which S.1 is determined to stop, was started in 2005 by Palestinians seeking to generate international pressure on Israel to respect Palestinian human rights. The effort draws from the anti-apartheid campaign in South Africa in the 1980s and the earlier African American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. The movement’s goals are to:
- Stop Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, which international law considers illegal. The Fourth Geneva Convention specifically prohibits the tranfer of populations into occupied territories. Practically, settlements require military occupation to defend them, exacerbating issues with Palestinians.
- Grant of full citizenship rights to Palestinians in Israel. There are currently 65 laws, a Jim Crow regime of sorts, against Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories.
- Ensure Palestinian refugees’ right of return to the homes that they or their families were expelled from to make way for the formation of the state of Israel.
These goals have parts in common with the Oslo Accords, a “land for peace” framework that was a priority of the Bush and Obama administrations. In its 2002 road map, the map laid out a three-phase process that, according to its preamble, will “bring an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories that began in 1967” and create “an independent, democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors.” The Quartet (representatives of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations, and the United States) is to monitor and facilitate the peace process.”
The road map didn’t deal with the touchy refugee issue. According to international law, all refugees have a right to return to their place of origin. But if all the Palestinian refugees who claim to come from Israel–estimated to be about 3.7 million–try to return, both sides agree it would quickly spell the end of the Jewish state. The current population of Israeli is 6.4 million people, with 5.2 million Jews.
The suggested timetable–peace by the end of 2005–was “performance-based, which means that it would have moved forward only when the Israelis and Palestinians were judged to have met the benchmarks determined by the United States. Meanwhile, the Israelis kept on growing their illegal settlements and the Palestinians kept on fighting back while appealing to outside supporters. Hamas and Israel are now locked together is a symbiotic system that benefits the dysfunction on both sides. To add more stress to the system, the Kushner/Trump “peace plan” focused on punishing the Palestinians – first by moving our embassy to Jerusalem and then by threatening to stop humanitarian payments to Palestinian refugees. Kushner’s efforts have been so useless that Haaretz teases him with a fictional account of how he spends his days…”Spend an entire day in the White House working on my Middle East Peace Plan. Attempts to publish it are foiled when the WH printer is out of toner.”
This conflict has been going on for 47 years and the hole keeps getting deeper. Instead of just sending money and precision-guided munitions to Israel – business as usual – while muzzling Americans’ basic rights, let’s send a message that we refuse any funding package that doesn’t include both transformative change with verifiable benchmarks and humanitarian refugee aid.