A few days ago I went to my congressman’s website and sent him a short email expressing my dismay at his recent vote expressing solidarity with Israel’s “defense against terrorism” in the Gaza Strip. Odds are your congressperson voted the same way; only five of them voted ‘nay.’ (Results are here).
To my dismay, instead of writing me back to let me know he appreciated my concerns, he sent me this:
Thank you for contacting me about the current situation in Israel and the Gaza Strip. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.
The right of self-defense of any nation or people cannot be challenged. Israel has exercised that right in the face of an ongoing barrage of rocket attacks by Hamas. Any conflict that is waged in a densely populated urban setting will inevitably produce civilian casualties and the tragic loss of innocent life. Beyond this, there is a humanitarian crisis on the ground in Gaza that has been aggravated by the intense fighting of the past days.
I do not believe that it is the policy of the Israeli Government or the desire of the Israeli people to inflict suffering on innocent Palestinian civilians. I believe Israel seeks only to eliminate the terrorist attacks upon its soil that have inflicted fear and casualties. The parties must strive for a meaningful ceasefire, one that permits the flow of economic and humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza, but also will ensure that Hamas is unable to smuggle weaponry across the border with Gaza.
Again, I appreciate hearing from you. Please do not hesitate to contact me about other issues of concern to you in the future.
The effrontery! I probably would have let it lie, and stewed over it intermittently for months until I finally forgot about it, but I read it aloud to my friend and she prodded me to write him back. I voted for this jerk!
So I wrote him back:
Dear Congressman [x],
I am disappointed that instead of listening to my concerns about Israel’s recent actions, you gave me AIPAC’s talking points about Israel’s right to defend itself. That you haven’t bestirred yourself to learn anything more than this about such an important issue does not reassure me that you are acting in my best interests as my elected representative.
In a poll taken last summer, 71% of Americans said they would prefer the United States not take sides between Israel and Palestine, but 99% of our representatives support Israel. Fortunately, the Internet has made it much easier for Americans to get real news and learn that the rest of the world is not in Israel’s pocket and is generally opposed to war-mongering powers. I predict that in a few years, the American politicians who wish to remain in office will have a change of heart about our country’s unswavering support of Israel.
I just urge you to do it now and look like a brave man taking a stance.
Writing to your representatives can be cathartic. I recommend it.