Two New Jersey senators were the subject of a protest, last Tuesday, which called for an end to what they termed “a blank check for Israel’s crimes”. 13 of the dozens of protesters who participated in the action were arrested for an act of civil disobedience by staging a sit-in at the office.New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, the co-author of a July Resolution (Senate Resolution 498) that offered full and complete support for Israel’s actions in Gaza, was one of the targets of the protest.
The other was New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, the top recipient of campaign and other contributions from the Zionist lobbying group known as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Booker also faced protests when he traveled to Oregon last week to speak at a fundraising dinner for Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, also an unquestioning supporter of Israeli policies.
Steven Shalom, who writes for the Mondoweiss blog, said about Tuesday’s protest: “The U.S. Senate has played a shameful role during the recent Israeli assault on Gaza, twice voting 100-0 to give its full support to Israel, saying nothing about its violations of international humanitarian law (indeed, condemning the United Nations’ Human Rights Council for deigning to investigate war crimes), nothing about the blockade of Gaza, and nothing about the occupation, while promising Israel still more weapons.
“All this, while more than 2,100 Gazans have been killed, with civilians constituting 85 percent of those whose status has been determined thus far. Families were blown to smithereens in their homes. More than 100,000 people lost their homes. UN refugee shelters were repeatedly struck. Artillery was used in densely populated areas, leveling entire neighborhoods. High-rise buildings were demolished. Water and power facilities were struck….
“The real aim of the blockade has been openly acknowledged by Israeli officials: not so tight as to cause starvation, but just enough to—in the felicitous words of senior Israeli government advisor Dov Weisglass—put Gaza’s one and three quarter million people “on a diet.” Former Israeli President Shimon Peres once expressed bewilderment as to why Palestinians didn’t turn Gaza into another flourishing Singapore; he apparently forgot that becoming a trade entrepôt requires that you’re allowed to trade. To become a Singapore you need to be allowed to establish a seaport and an airport.)”
The two New Jersey Senators who were targeted by the protests refused to meet with their constituents or even to send a representative to meet with the people they supposedly represent.
Instead, their staff called in police to haul off the protesters as the protesters read off the names of the nearly 500 Palestinian children who were killed in the 50-day long Israeli assault on Gaza in July and August.
The demands of the protesters were as follows. They demanded that their Senators:
•Rescind S. Res. 498, July 17, 2014, co-sponsored by Sens. Menendez, Booker, and 77 others, passed unanimously, which supported Israel’s military actions in Gaza, condemned Hamas, and made no mention of the horrendous toll on Gaza’s civilian population of the Israeli attacks.
•Rescind S. Res. 526, July 29, 2014, co-sponsored by Sen. Menendez and 6 others, passed unanimously, again supporting Israel’s military actions, condemning the UN’s Human Rights Council for deciding to investigate human rights violations, and calling for more military aid to Israel (not just for Iron Dome).
•Introduce legislation rejecting all military aid to Israel (as urged by Amnesty International), which has enabled the commission of war crimes.
•Call for an end to U.S. diplomatic actions designed to block the United Nations and the International Criminal Court from trying to obtain Israel’s compliance with international law.
•Demand the immediate lifting of the blockade of Gaza, a collective punishment imposed in violation of international law.
•Insist that the United States government not support Israel’s continuing settlements and its ongoing occupation.