Thanks for publishing John Fussell’s important essay, “Connecticut’s Congressional delegation—silent to Israel’s repression of Palestine.” His criticism echoes the long-standing sense of frustration and lack of response many of us feel toward our congressional “representatives” when it comes to holding Israel accountable for their unceasing human rights abuse toward Palestinians.
The latest is their unified silence when it comes to supporting two important initiatives of their colleague U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) : H.B. 2590 and H.R.751 which would respectively, condition our aid to Israel to its human rights record, and condemns Israel’s designation of six Palestinian human rights groups as “terrorists.”
I challenge this designation as a psychologist who has spent time in the Palestinian Occupied Territories (OPT). I have used the data of groups like Defense for Children International-Palestine and Addameer (“conscience” in Arabic) for an academic publication and published opinion pieces because of their non-violence and reputation for providing valid information.
In truth, our representatives simply do not hear us on this issue.
For example, despite emails, phone calls to the office of my congresswoman, U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, urging her to consider co-sponsoring McCollum’s House bill and resolution, I get nowhere–no definitive answer or explanation. I don’t feel heard even when I have appealed to her as an African-American, on two counts.
First, by drawing attention to the similarities between Israel as an apartheid state (Human Rights Watch; B’Tselem), Jim Crow and South African apartheid (explicitly described as such in 1961 by its architect Hendrik Verwoerd); and second, in the growing alliance between activists for the Movement for Black Lives and Palestinian human rights who identify with each other’s oppression in the U.S. and Israel respectively. This alliance represents growing public opinion toward Palestinians especially among younger voters. Who will represent them?
However, our representatives apparently do hear the voice of those who support Israel–the Israeli lobby which provides campaign contributions and endorsements.
For example, in an extensive 2019 article, New York Times reporter Nathan Thrall provided compelling evidence that Jewish megadonors significantly shape U.S. policy toward Israel.
Similarly, candidates across the political spectrum—including liberals like Rep. Hayes —have accepted the endorsement of pro-Israel groups like “Democratic Majority for Israel,” self-described as “The Voice of Pro-Israel Democrats.”
Nonetheless, this remains a significant issue for Connecticut voters. Our government gives billions of our tax dollars annually as well as political cover in service of a country that consistently violates international law and corrupts American values of equality before the law.
How can such hypocrisy and apparent close mindedness to the Palestinian side of this issue not drive many voters to cynicism and apathy toward government and those who claim to speak for us?
Justine McCabe lives in New Milford.