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A Devastating Conversation with My Representative, Waxman

Posted by Guest -

Thu, Jul 28, 2011

Ahava, Audacity of Hope, Citizen Diplomacy, Congress, DC, Freedom Flotilla, Gaza

Today, CODEPINK met with two members of Congress, Representative Sherman and Representative Waxman. Our co-founder, Jodie Evans, knows both of them well and they were happy to speak with her.

I was happy that Representative Waxman, my Congressional representative, invited us into his office to speak with him. Tighe explained how it felt to be a Californian and a member of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and how frustrating it was to have no support from the State Department. He and Medea asked Waxman if he would help the US citizen owners of the boat get the US-flagged vessel out of the Greek military port where it is stuck. I’m hopeful that we can follow up with him and other members of Congress with concrete ways to support this effort – perhaps a letter from multiple members of Congress to the State Department to help us get US property back in the hands of US citizens.

The part of the conversation that was devastating was when Rep Waxman explained his opinion on Palestinian statehood. He claims that going to the United Nations for recognition violates the Oslo Accords and that it will undermine the peace process and not help create a two-state solution. As a practicing Jew and a peace activist, it’s hard for me to understand this position. Israel initially received international recognition because it was recognized as an independent state by the United Nations. The UN is the global body that was created partially to provide a peaceful way for new states to emerge. It is also the space where international disputes should be negotiated, to help avert war. That’s why we have a United Nations. So it shocks me that my representative dismisses the UN in this situation. What makes Israel and Palestine different from the rest of the world? What makes it a special case that should be negotiated outside the realm of the global body politic? It frightens me that the desire to support Israelis can blind US politicians from the government bodies that are so vital to creating a just, peaceful world. Waxman’s last message was that going to the UN would not be helpful to creating a two state solution, which he hopes is the goal we’re seeking. In my opinion, this is a strange, strange thing to ask US activists. I believe in the right of self-determination. As a US citizen, I have no right to tell people in the Middle East what their final political state(s) should look like. My advocacy is to support the right for every single person to live in an internationally recognized state and to have their political, cultural, and economic rights recognized. Why is this such a horrific position?

At Representative Sherman’s office, we also sang “Don’t Buy Israeli,” the BDS song to the tune of Hava Nagila. I spend most of my time focused on stopping the US war machine, trying to end the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Knowing the intransigence of the US body politic, and the fact that both the Palestinian and Israeli peace communities support BDS, it felt really good to be a part of both of these actions.

Viva CODEPINK! Free Palestine!

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TSPTSD6DV4UJPJTHHIUV7O4TBE * *

    Epic fail. Go fight for human rights in Damascus, where people don’t even have a right to live.

  • Lisa Savage

    Congressional visits can be so depressing, and that’s why so many people avoid doing them. Waxman makes himself sound foolish indeed. But the need to keep holding those in power accountable is completely different from working on elections, and I am proud of my Codepink sisters and brothers who keep on making these visits. We are able to go — and then we are able to get to work on real change making !

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