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Chicagoan Activists Occupy Sen. Dick Durbin's Office

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More than ten peace and justice advocates are currently occupying the office of Senator Dick Durbin in Chicago in response to Israel's ongoing military offensive against the Gaza Strip.

Outside of Durbin's office, which is on the 38th floor of the Kluczinski Federal Building at 230 S. Dearborn Street, a handful of protesters are lending support to the peace and justice advocates occupying Durbin's office and braving the bitter cold.

The activists demand a meeting with Durbin as well as commitments from the Senator to take specific concrete steps towards ending Israel's military siege of Gaza.

The following statement was issued to Durbin's staff when the activists entered the Senator's office:

"We seek action from Senator Durbin in light of Israel's ongoing military and economic siege of the Gaza Strip. Over 21 days, Israel's military offensive against Gaza has resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 Palestinians and the injury of 5,000 the overwhelming majority of whom are non-combatants and civilians.
More than one-third of those killed or injured are women and children. Children comprise over half of Gaza's population. Palestinians in Gaza are unable to flee, as Israel has sealed the borders, and the humanitarian situation in Gaza is rapidly deteriorating.
AS concerned US citizens and individuals representing an ad-hoc coalition of social justice organizations, we are taking direct action to demand that Senator Durbin do the following:

* Immediately meet with us in person or via phone given the urgency of the situation in Gaza. Senator Durbin and his senior aides have so far been unwilling to meet with constituents concerned by Israel's military siege of Gaza.
* Issue a public statement calling for the immediate end to Israel's military offensive against Gaza; for the full withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip; and for the opening of the borders into and out of Gaza for free and unfettered humanitarian relief efforts.
* Take legislative action to investigate Israel's compliance with the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 and comply with Amnesty International's call for an embargo on all armed parties engaged in hostilities in the Gaza Strip to prevent further unlawful attacks and violations of international law."


Organizations participating in the occupation of Durbin's office include Voices for Creative Nonviolence; 8th Day Center for Justice; Francis of Assisi House Catholic Worker; Christian Peacemaker Teams Chicago; Palestine Solidarity Group Chicago; Fight Back! News; Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm (Maloy, Iowa).
In Rep. Jan Schakowsky's congressional district, eight constituents of Ms. Schakowsky met with her congressional aide yesterday and explained why they are appalled with and disheartened by Rep. Schakowsky's support for Israel's bombardment of Gaza.
The eight emphasized that contrary to what she may believe this action is not making Israel safer and it is not making Americans safer because this type of action is what leads to terrorist attacks waged by Islamic extremists.
The groups urged Rep. Schakowsky to sign on to Dennis Kucinich's Gaza resolution, which takes a more balanced approach to dealing with the situation in Gaza.
Here are remarks from Sen. Dick Durbin on ABC's "This Week" (because there is no formal statement on Gaza posted on his website):
...The Israeli people, of course, have been the victims of the terrorist attacks by these Hamas rockets, which are now capable of longer ranges and more damage and bloodshed, and the Israelis want to bring an end to this.

When they left the Gaza strip, it was to try to bring peace to this area, return it to the hands of the Palestinians. And sadly, the Palestinian people have been victimized by incompetent and corrupt leadership, and at this point in time, I think the Israelis have said we have to put an end to these attacks from Gaza into Israel.

A cease-fire, I hope, occurs quickly. I hope it is of a permanent and verifiable nature. But it's understandable. Israel has watched as these rockets have been launched from Gaza time and again, killing innocent people in their territory.

Here is a statement from Rep. Jan Schakowsky on Gaza:

Given the constant rocket fire from Hamas, particularly since Hamas declared an official end to the six-month ceasefire, Israel’s response is completely understandable. For years, the children of Sderot and surrounding communities and their parents have been terrorized by these attacks and forced to live in fear, regularly huddled in bomb shelters. Now those rockets plus more sophisticated ones are coming more frequently and endangering even more Israeli communities and families.

Israel has an absolute right to defend herself. That is not in question. However, I am concerned that the renewed violence will make long-term peace and security for Israel even more elusive and create greater instability in the region.

This untenable situation is crying out for a diplomatic solution, one in which the United States plays a leadership role, calling on the international community, including nations in the region, to participate. That solution requires that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist and abandon terrorism, and that both sides agree to a two-state solution that achieves both physical and economic security. I urge the Obama Administration from its first days to re-engage in active diplomacy, not only to end the current hostilities and alleviate humanitarian suffering, but to work toward a lasting peace, one that guarantees Israel’s survival as a Jewish democratic state."

At 12:15 pm CT, ABC News in Chicago (Ch.7) had shown up to cover the sit-in. There are plans for Chicagoan peace and justice groups to gather outside of the ABC News studio on Lake & State in the Loop at 5 pm this evening.

Here is Dennis Kucinich's Gaza resolution.

And, here is an article posted recently, on why it's useless to lobby Congress on Gaza.

Stay tuned for more updates.


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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for
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