August 19, 2011
I’ve been keepin’ a list and checkin’ it twice to find out whose been especially naughty in joining the Aipac junket to Israel. 81 Congress members participated, marking the participation of an unprecedented 20% of the entire body in a single month’s worth of trips to the Holyland.
With the help of readers and other activists I’ve now identified 50 junket-goers with another 31 left to go. If you know of any new names please add them in the thread below.
Tonight, I especially wanted to focus on participation of the Congressional Black Caucus in the trip. At least six members went including Jesse Jackson Jr. One of them, Hank Johnson, ran against and defeated one of Aipac’s nemeses, Cynthia McKinney, largely with the help of funds from pro-Israel Jewish donors. You can be damn sure the only reason these people are on this trip is because they lust for the campaign cash that will be coming their way from donors affiliated with Aipac.
Jesse Jackson Jr. is richly repaying the $8,000 Aipac invested in his trip with this fawning pro-Israel op-ed published in today’s Jerusalem Post. It’s so fulsome in its praise of the Jewish state that one even questions whether it could’ve been drafted for him by an Aipac staffer. I note that Jackson eschews terms like "junket" to describe his Israel visit. It was, instead, a "fact-finding trip." I can tell him a few facts he missed: he never visited Gaza or spoke with anyone from Hamas. I seriously doubt he met with any Israeli-Palestinians either; or any leaders of the J14 social justice movement which has swept Israeli society of late. Can you imagine the son of one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders visits Israel and misses out on that country’s foremost social justice movement? How could Jackson let that happen?
The gist of the JPost piece is that the only way for the Palestinians to gain true success in their quest for justice is to swear off violence and embrace non-violence. Which is all well and good if you’re fighting for civil rights in Alabama in 1967, since the only weapons used against you were German shepherds and fire hoses (with the rare assassination thrown in for purposes of intimidation). Martin Luther King and Jesse Jackson’s dad never had to face F-16 jets and Apache attack helicopters in their day. If they had, I’d guess they’d have had to adopt a different set of tactics to gain their freedom.
Jackson Jr. argues that the Palestinian aim of bringing its call for statehood to the United Nations will not only fail due to a U.S. veto (a particularly wrong-headed conclusion on his part), it will lead to violence, which can only harm the Palestinian cause. A funny thing though–I never heard Jesse Jackson offer any help, support or advice to the Palestinians before he took this little junket on Aipac’s dime.
Astonishingly, Jackson levels his gunsite at one of Fatah’s most significant leaders, Marwan Barghouti, singling him out for criticism because he has warned the U.S. it will be making a big mistake if it rejects Palestinian statehood (and we should keep in mind that a two-state solution is a centerpiece of U.S. policy). Further, Barghouti has the ultimate chutzpah of co-opting the rhetoric of the U.S. civil rights movement in calling for a "million man march" by Palestinians and their supporters against Israel after statehood is rejected.
Here is Jackson maligning the Fatah leader’s credibility in particularly hollow terms:
Does a convicted terrorist who has used violence in the past, and has not ruled out its use in the future, really have the moral authority and credibility to advocate a nonviolent march and be believable?
Jesse Jackson Jr. is certainly not an ironist. Were he, he’d notice that Marwan Barghouti is in a prison cell much like the one Martin Luther King sat in in Birmingham in 1962. And just as MLK and Jackson’s father faced persecution by the FBI and other bastions of white power in the south, so Palestinian leaders like Barghouti suffer fates even harsher. Besides, what does a Black politician from Chicago know about Palestine or Palestinians? The answer: he knows what he’s told to know. And you know who tells him what he knows? His rich pro-Israel Jewish friends in Chicago who are filling his campaign coffers.
An even deeper irony is this passage from the Black Congressmember’s op-ed, quoting one of Israel’s true heroes of the civil rights struggle:
…According to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the PA is preparing for unprecedented "bloodshed on a scale we haven’t yet seen."
Since when does Jesse Jackson Jr. quote the Israeli equivalent of David Duke with a straight face? Does anyone find this as repulsive as I do? Not to mention, how the hell does Avigdor Lieberman know what will happen in September? How does he know whether the Palestinians will storm the Qalandiya checkpoint as he foretells?
The writer heralds the courage of Bibi Netanyahu’s going to extra mile for peace in this 'touching’ passage:
In our meeting with Netanyahu – and remembering the risk for peace that Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin took, that Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat took – I asked him what he was willing to risk for peace. He said it would make his security very uncomfortable, but that he was willing to go to Ramallah to talk with Abbas.
What was Bibi willing to risk for peace? Return to 67 borders? Sharing Jerusalem? Right of Return? Nah. He was willing to take a ride to Ramallah to chew the fat with his good friend Mahmoud. That’s it. And Jackson believes this is–what? Serious? Apparently so, as he calls Bibi’s willingness to talk a "nonviolent step for peace."
The sheer ignorance of the following passage will certainly drive Palestinian human rights activists around the bend:
…If the Palestinians abandoned violence, launched a nonviolent active resistance movement and established a demonstrated history of nonviolent struggle against their occupation, it would inevitability change the view of the Palestinian struggle in the court of world opinion, strengthen the cause of Palestinian statehood and speed up the day of its realization…
If they abandoned violence? What does he think the average Palestinian is doing? Sitting in his basement making IEDs? Has Jackson ever heard of Bilin? Why didn’t he take a trip to join their non-violent struggle against Israel’s Separation Wall? Where is this champion of human rights and dignity when you need him? Sitting in a fancy Tel Aviv conference room getting snowed by Bibi, that’s where.
When I read the phrase "speed up the day of its realization" it recalled the gradualists of the civil rights eras who urged Blacks to go slow, wait patiently for their betters to straighten things out on their behalf. Did Jesse Jackson Sr. or MLK stand for such bulls(^t? No, they rejected it out of hand. Yet Jesse Jackson Jr. gives Palestinians precisely such advice, and with a straight face.
Can you tell me where in this statement is there any recognition of the furious onslaught of the Israeli military machine against Palestinians:
Clearly the historical and ongoing bad experiences of African Americans in the US, and the past experiences and continuing occupation of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza by Israel, are both wrong, but the path of hate, terrorism, rockets, missiles and even throwing rocks in hatred is not the path to a lasting peace or greater justice, or the path to statehood in the relatively near future.
Where is there any demand that the Israelis do anything for peace, let alone adopt non-violence? Can Jackson point me to a single statement he made asking the IDF to forswear its weapons of violence and hate used every day against Palestinians, many of them civilians?
All I can say is: Jesse Jackson Jr., you are an embarrassment to every principle held dear by your people for the past 60 years of struggle for human dignity. You are an example of the barrenness and bankruptcy of the leaders like you who’ve abandoned the dream in return for Aipac lucre. What do you stand for? How can you be so abysmally ignorant of the Palestinian cause and write such Aipac-scripted junk?
The following is the most up to date list I have of those participating in Aipac’s Israel junket:
Mo Brooks R-5 AL
Eric Cantor R-7 VA
Russ Carnahan D-3 MO
Tim Scott R-1 SC
Gus Bilirakis R-9 FL
Dennis A. Ross R-12 FL
Steve Chabot R-1 OH (went last month)
David Cicilline D-1 RI
Jeff Duncan R-3 SC
Stephen Fincher R-8 TN
Yvette Clarke D-11 NY
Mark Critz D- 12 PA
Scott DesJarlais R- 4 TN
Chuck Fleischman R-3 TN
John Garamendi D-10 CA
Ron Kind D-3 WI
Kay Granger R-12 TX
Michael Grimm NY-13
Janice Hahn D-36 CA
Jaime Herrera Buetler R-3 WA
Mazie Hirono D- 2 HI (unconfirmed)
Steny Hoyer D-5 MD
Jesse Jackson Jr. D-2 IL
Patrick Meehan D-7 PA
Kevin McCarthy CA-22
Gwen Moore D-4 WI
Bill Owens D-23 NY
Steven Palazzo R-4 MS
Ed Perlmutter D-7 CO
Tom Price R-6 GA
Peter Roskam R-6 IL
Loretta Sanchez D-47 CA
David Schweikert R-5 AZ
Adam Smith D-9 WA
Steve Southerland R-2 FLA
Betty Sutton D-13 OH
Scott Tipton R-3 CO
Allen West R-22 FL
Frederica Wilson D-17 FL
Kevin Yoder R-3 KS
Kathy Castor D-11 FL
Terri Sewell D-7 AL (not confirmed)
Anne Marie Buerkle R-25 NY
Judy Chu D-32 CA
Hank Johnson D-4 GA
Bob Dold R-10 IL (unconfirmed)
Blake Farenthold R-27 TX
Mike Fitzpatrick R-8 PA
Tom Reed R-29 NY
Kevin McCarthy R-22 CA