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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/15/18

These Members of Congress Are Trying to Visit Gaza -- Israel Should Let Them Do So

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From The Nation

Representatives Mark Pocan, Dan Kildee, and Hank Johnson Jr. were denied the opportunity to witness conditions on the ground firsthand.

Israeli Soldier Points Gun at Unarmed Palestinian Demonstrator
Israeli Soldier Points Gun at Unarmed Palestinian Demonstrator
(Image by PSP Photos)
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The Trump administration's response to the killings of dozens of Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli soldiers was to fault the organizers of mass demonstrations by people who are living in nightmarish conditions on the Gaza Strip. While a White House spokesman claimed that "the responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas," the man Donald Trump has charged with renewing the Middle East peace process, presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, literally faulted protesters amid reports of the mass killing and wounding of Palestinian men, women, and children who were objecting to Israeli policies. "As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today, those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution," Kushner claimed at a ceremony marking the opening of the new United States embassy in Jerusalem.

But responsible members of Congress -- many of them with long experience observing the Middle East -- saw the circumstances more clearly, and responded in more realistic terms.

Noting the juxtaposition of the embassy opening and the killings, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted: "This is horrific. My prayers are with those killed & injured in Gaza. The U.S. should be laying the groundwork for peace -- not fueling conflict in the region with an unnecessary & counterproductive embassy move."

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) decried the "occupation and oppression of Palestinians" and wrote that Trump-administration policies "are fueling conflict, abandoning diplomatic efforts to achieve peace."

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called for urgent diplomatic action. "More than 50 killed in Gaza today and 2,000 wounded, on top of the 41 killed and more than 9,000 wounded over the past weeks. This is a staggering toll," said Sanders, who explained that: "Hamas violence does not justify Israel firing on unarmed protesters. The United States must play an aggressive role in bringing Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and the international community together to address Gaza's humanitarian crisis and stop this escalating violence."

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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