Thirteen arrested as protesters tell Senators Menendez and Booker: ‘No more blank check for Israel’s crimes’

Activism
on 36 Comments

On Tuesday August 26, 2014, more than 50 demonstrators protested outside the Newark, New Jersey, offices of U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker demanding that the legislators stop providing a blank check for Israel’s crimes. Thirteen demonstrators were arrested inside the building as they read out the names of some of the nearly 500 Palestinian children killed in Gaza.

The cell in which some of the protesters were held. (Photo by Olivia Hazin)

The cell in which some of the protesters were held. (Photo by Olivia Hazin)

(When B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, had tried to run a radio ad merely listing the names of five of the hundreds of children killed, the Israeli Broadcast Authority banned them from doing so.)

The U.S. Senate has played a shameful role during the recent Israeli assault on Gaza, twice voting 100-0 to give its full support to Israel, saying nothing about its violations of international humanitarian law (indeed, condemning the United Nations’ Human Rights Council for deigning to investigate war crimes), nothing about the blockade of Gaza, and nothing about the occupation, while promising Israel still more weapons.

All this, while more than 2,100 Gazans have been killed, with civilians constituting 85 percent of those whose status has been determined thus far. Families were blown to smithereens in their homes. More than 100,000 people lost their homes. UN refugee shelters were repeatedly struck. Artillery was used in densely populated areas, leveling entire neighborhoods. High-rise buildings were demolished. Water and power facilities were struck.

Israel says it was acting against rockets and tunnels. Projectiles have led to a total of six civilian deaths in Israel—tragic and unjust, but inevitable as long as Israel maintains its illegal and unjust occupation and as long as it enforces its cruel blockade on Gaza, a collective punishment in violation of international humanitarian law.

“We support Israel’s right to self-defense,” the Senators intoned.

But of course it’s not self-defense when you kill 500 children.

It’s not self-defense when you have someone in a chokehold and the victim is flailing about in desperation—and make no mistake, Israel has had Gaza in a chokehold for 7 years, with a brutal blockade. Before the current round of fighting, the blockade ensured that conditions in Gaza were horrendous: 41 percent unemployment, power outages of up to 12 and even 16 hours per day, 90 percent of the water from the Gaza aquifer unsafe for human consumption, 90 million liters of partially treated sewage discharged daily into the Mediterranean. Moreover, Gazans have been denied basic freedom of movement; people needing urgent medical care have died while waiting for exit visas and Palestinian couples, where one partner is from Gaza and the other from either Israel or the West Bank, have to either live apart or in live Gaza.

Israel says the only purpose of the blockade was to keep out weapons, but this is a gross lie. The blockade has blocked exports from Gaza, which obviously has nothing to do with weapons. The blockade has at various points blocked imports of coriander and notebooks.

The real aim of the blockade has been openly acknowledged by Israeli officials: not so tight as to cause starvation, but just enough to—in the felicitous words of senior Israeli government advisor Dov Weisglass—put Gaza’s one and three quarter million people “on a diet.” Former Israeli President Shimon Peres once expressed bewilderment as to why Palestinians didn’t turn Gaza into another flourishing Singapore; he apparently forgot that becoming a trade entrepôt requires that you’re allowed to trade. To become a Singapore you need to be allowed to establish a seaport and an airport.)

So there’s long been an easy way for Israel to defend itself without having to kill 500 children: end the blockade.

It’s also not self-defense when you hold a people under occupation for nearly five decades, an occupation that is not getting lighter as time goes on, but is continually expanding, stealing Palestinian land and building new Israeli settlements.

There’s long been an easy way for Israel to defend itself—end the occupation.

But the U.S. Senate just says it supports Israel, no matter how many people it kills.

But as bad as the Senate has been, New Jersey’s Senators Menendez and Booker have been especially awful.

outside-gateway1

Outside the Gateway Center, where Menendez and Booker have offices. (Photo by Tom Bias)

Menendez and Booker are the Senate’s two leading recipients of campaign contributions from pro-Israel PACs. Menendez, as head of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, has played a leading role in supine support for Israel. One of the key co-sponsors of both of the Senate resolutions relating to Gaza, he has also (following Israel) been outspoken in attacking Obama for being soft on Iran.

Booker, called by analyst M.J. Rosenberg “AIPAC’s Number One Puppet in Congress,” considers Rabbi Shmuely Boteach a close friend and adviser. Boteach is the Chabad rabbi and TV personality who ran for Congress as a Republican and who, with Eli Wiesel, has been publishing vile pro-Israel ads in leading newspapers. Booker’s recent Senate speech on Gaza charged that Hamas, “in order to build their tunnels and to advocate and advance their independence,” was willing “to deny their people food” and “to deny medical supplies.”  Somehow Booker forgot to mention who was actually blocking Palestinian “independence” or cutting off food and medical supplies.

What is striking about Menendez and Booker’s rabid support for Israel is how their views contrast with those of the people who elected them. We have no New Jersey polls, but there’s suggestive data from a July 22-23 national Gallup Poll. Asked whether Israeli military actions were justified, among Democrats 47 percent said “unjustified” compared to only 31 percent who said Israel was “justified.” Among Independents it was 46 percent who said “unjustified” compared to 36 percent “justified.”

In other words, the plurality of people who elected Senators Menendez and Booker stand on the side of basic decency, while Menendez and Booker stand on the side of slaughter.

Among non-white Americans, it was two to one who considered Israel’s actions unjustified—49 percent to 25 percent. These were the groups who voted overwhelmingly for Senators Menendez and Booker. Yet the Senators ignored their constituents’ views and backed Israel’s crimes.

Other polls have shown Democrats to be more divided in their sentiments, but nothing could warrant Menendez and Booker being so oblivious to Palestinian suffering and so fawning to the desires of the Israeli government.

The demonstrators on August 26 issued the following demands of their Senators:

  • Rescind S. Res. 498, July 17, 2014, co-sponsored by Sens. Menendez, Booker, and 77 others, passed unanimously, which supported Israel’s military actions in Gaza, condemned Hamas, and made no mention of the horrendous toll on Gaza’s civilian population of the Israeli attacks.
  • Rescind S. Res. 526, July 29, 2014, co-sponsored by Sen. Menendez and 6 others, passed unanimously, again supporting Israel’s military actions, condemning the UN’s Human Rights Council for deciding to investigate human rights violations, and calling for more military aid to Israel (not just for Iron Dome).
  • Introduce legislation rejecting all military aid to Israel (as urged by Amnesty International), which has enabled the commission of war crimes.
  • Call for an end to U.S. diplomatic actions designed to block the United Nations and the International Criminal Court from trying to obtain Israel’s compliance with international law.
  • Demand the immediate lifting of the blockade of Gaza, a collective punishment imposed in violation of international law.
  • Insist that the United States government not support Israel’s continuing settlements and its ongoing occupation.

In short, the demonstrators demanded no more blank check for Israel’s crimes.

The demonstration was endorsed by NJ Peace Action, Essex/Passaic County Green Party, NJ Labor Against War, NJ Progressive Democrats of America, Labor Fightback Network, Central NJ Coalition Against Endless War, Coalition 2 Save Our Homes, Princeton for Palestine, Green Party of Monmouth County, Socialist Party of Northern NJ, People’s Organization for Progress, and Anakbayan-NJ.

One of the news reports of the demonstration, though neglecting to mention the 13 arrests, ended on this telling note:

“We reached out to Sens. Menendez and Booker today. Both offices said the senators would have no comment, adding that the senators would let their records speak for themselves, to which demonstrators here say, ‘exactly.’”

36 Responses

  1. just
    August 29, 2014, 9:53 am

    What a great bunch of people leading by example!

    This is the kind of relentless pressure on our elected shills that is needed– now, more than ever.

    Many thanks for this Professor Shalom.

    Shalom.

    • bilal a
      August 31, 2014, 3:14 pm

      Jews only anti-Zionism activism is weird.

      Max Blumenthal ‏@MaxBlumenthal

      Blumenthal, Cohen and Rosenfeld at Ismail Haniyeh presser #Gaza cc: @jj_goldberg pic.twitter.com/J4GuXQGt0V

      link to twitter.com

  2. Blaine Coleman
    August 29, 2014, 10:26 am

    There are also multiple efforts to persuade City Councils to approve resolutions to boycott all products imported from Israel:

    “Tensions mount at city council meeting over ‘Boycott Israel’ proposal”
    ARAB AMERICAN NEWS
    At: link to arabamericannews.com

    “Ann Arbor protesters call for Israel boycott; mayor says he won’t support bid”
    DETROIT NEWS
    link to detroitnews.com

    “Video: Police escort anti-Israel protesters from Ann Arbor city hall”
    ANN ARBOR NEWS/ MLive.com
    link to mlive.com

    “Ann Arbor officials discussing how to deal with anti-Israel protesters disrupting meetings”
    ANN ARBOR NEWS/ MLive.com
    link to mlive.com

    “Group Calling On Ann Arbor Boycott Of Israel Expected At Monday City Council Meeting”
    WEMU Radio (Ypsilanti, Michigan)
    At: link to wemu.org

    ————————————————————–

    • ckg
      August 29, 2014, 11:44 am

      Excellent work, Blaine!

      • Blaine Coleman
        August 29, 2014, 12:34 pm

        Thank you! I hope to see similar news from your own city council one day.

  3. amigo
    August 29, 2014, 10:58 am

    “(When B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, had tried to run a radio ad merely listing the names of five of the hundreds of children killed, the Israeli Broadcast Authority banned them from doing so.) ”

    Criminals hate standing in the dock as the list of crimes are read out to them in a court of law.

    The list of Israel,s crimes would take weeks to read out.

    Such actions by Israel simply highlight their guilt.If you are innocent , why carry out actions that try to cull freedom of speech.

    Sue for defamation of character.

    “Israeli Broadcast Authority”.

    More suitably ,”Israeli Dept of end free speech”.

  4. ckg
    August 29, 2014, 11:19 am

    MJ Rosenberg writes on his blog this morning

    Those of us (including Beinart) thoroughly disgusted with Israel need to choose tactics which could work, which are in fact working already.

    Here is mine BDS, without the existing BDS movement: an organized boycott campaign which, unlike the BDS movement, does not have as its goal the dismantling of Israel but the end of the occupation. That might work although, as Beinart knows, the community will fight that too. Including J Street which does not favor even the selective boycott of the settlements.

    Many successful divestment campaigns in the U.S. to date have been specific to Israel’s activities in the occupied territories and target corporations that sustain the occupation. The PCUSA effort, in fact, explicitly distanced itself from the BDS movement. If MJR is true to his word, he should lend support these efforts. I support the existing BDS movement, including its third objective, but it is good to see MJR’s statement for more limited action.

    • Mooser
      August 29, 2014, 1:01 pm

      ‘does not have as its goal the dismantling of Israel but the end of the occupation “

      Like you could have one without the other!! Who the hell is he trying to kid?

      • geokat62
        August 29, 2014, 10:47 pm

        “Like you could have one without the other!! ”

        Based on your previous post, I’m curious to get your take on Finkelstein’s argument about the 1SS.

        At a recent book tour, he made the following comments about the 1SS:

        THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH IT AND I THINK IT’S A FINE IDEA. I ALSO THINK IT’S A FINE IDEA THAT 30 MILLION … CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES ARE OF MEXICAN ORIGIN. HALF OF THE ENTIRE MEXICAN ECONOMY, A LARGE CHUNK OF THAT IS DEPENDENT ON REMITTANCES FROM MEXICANS LIVING IN THE UNITED STATES. WE STOLE… HALF OF MEXICO SO I THINK IT’S A FINE IDEA AND CERTAINLY RISES TO THE STANDARD OF JUSTICE. IT’S A FINE IDEA IF WE ELIMINATE THE BORDER BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND MEXICO. [APPLAUSE] IT’S ALSO A FINE IDEA. IT’S ALSO JUSTICE. BUT THEN WE HAVE TO ASK OURSELVES, POLITICALLY DOES IT HAVE ANY POSSIBILITY? THERE IS A SERIOUS ISSUE ON OUR BORDER. SEVERAL HUNDRED MEXICANS ARE KILLED EACH YEAR TRYING TO ENTER THE COUNTRY. THERE’S ALSO A SERIOUS ISSUE HERE OF UNDOCUMENTED MEXICANS AND THERE IS TALK ABOUT WHAT IS CALLED IMMIGRATION REFORM. DOES ANYBODY TALK ABOUT ELIMINATING THE BORDER, ONE STATE? THE ANSWER IS OBVIOUSLY NOT. POLITICALLY IT’S JUST BESIDE THE POINT. WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT JUSTICE IN THE ABSTRACT. WE ARE TALKING WHAT IS POLITICALLY POSSIBLE AND THERE IS NO BASIS WHATSOEVER IN THE REAL WORLD. THERE IS … EXACTLY ZERO SUPPORT IN THE REAL WORLD FOR A ONE STATE RESOLUTION TO THE CONFLICT. LET’S START WITH BASICS. CAN ANYONE IN THIS ROOM NAME ME ONE STATE, ONE STATE IN THE WORLD THAT SUPPORTS ONE STATE IN PALESTINE? NAME IRAN. NO, YOU DON’T NAME IRAN BECAUSE EVERY YEAR IRAN’S VOTES IN THE U.N. ALONG WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD FOR TWO STATES. IRAN IS A MEMBER OF THE ORGANIZATION OF ISLAMIC COOPERATION. 57 ISLAMIC COUNTRIES. IRAN IS A MEMBER AND IRAN AS A MEMBER OF THE ORGANIZATION OF ISLAMIC COUNTRIES ENDORSED THE TWO STATE SETTLEMENT. THERE’S NO SUPPORT FOR IT SO WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? I’M NOT AVERSE TO THE IDEA. I THINK IT’S A FINE IDEA. I’M LIKE RODNEY KING FOR THOSE OF YOU OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER. WHY CAN’T PEOPLE GET ALONG? YEAH I BELIEVE THAT. I BELIEVE PEOPLE CAN GET ALONG BUT THAT’S A PERSONAL BELIEF. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH POLITICS. I THINK ONE OF THE PROBLEMS OFTEN AFFLICTING THE PALESTINE QUESTION IS THAT PEOPLE CONFUSE THEIR OWN PERSONAL CONCEPTS AND SENSES OF JUSTICE WITH WHAT IS POLITICALLY POSSIBLE IN TERMS OF JUSTICE. YOU CAN MAKE ANY KIND — OF COURSE AS A PERSONAL BELIEF YOU ARE ALLOWED TO HARBOR ANYTHING BUT YOU HAVE TO THEN ASSESS WHAT POLITICALLY IS REALISTIC AND POSSIBLE. NOW I KNOW THE OBVIOUS ANSWER IS, THE OBVIOUS ANSWER TO WHAT SOME OF YOU ARE THINKING IS THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION IS NOT REALISTIC AND POSSIBLE ANYMORE. THAT’S THE STANDARD ARGUMENT BUT THERE’S JUST SUCH AN OBVIOUS ANSWER CRYING TO BE SAID. IF ISRAEL WILL NOT ACCEPT A FULL WITHDRAWAL FROM THE TERRITORIES IT OCCUPIED IN JUNE 1967, IF THAT’S TRUE, IS THERE ANYONE HERE IN THE ROOM WHO COULD POSSIBLY BELIEVE THAT THEY WOULD BE MORE WILLING TO DISMANTLE ISRAEL THAN TO WITHDRAW? DOES THAT MAKE ANY SENSE? THAT ISRAEL WOULD BE MORE WILLING TO DISMANTLE ITSELF THAN TO WITHDRAW FROM THE TERRITORIES IT OCCUPIED? SO WHEN PEOPLE SAY THE TWO STATE SETTLEMENT IS DEAD AND THEREFORE THE ONLY OTHER POSSIBILITY IS THE ONE STATE, THE OBVIOUS RATIONAL ANSWER IS, IF TWO STATES IS DEAD THEN ONE STATE IS TWICE AS DEAD.

        link to c-span.org

      • geokat62
        August 30, 2014, 8:20 am

        Not sure why my previous comment is taking so long to be moderated?

      • just
        August 30, 2014, 9:47 am

        Here’s my first take– please don’t use all caps.

      • geokat62
        August 30, 2014, 9:56 am

        “Here’s my first take– please don’t use all caps.”

        My apologies….but I should have noted that Finkestein’s comments were directly taken from a transcript of his book tour comments. Unfortunately, uppercase was used in the original.

      • just
        August 30, 2014, 10:22 am

        Thanks geokat. I didn’t really mean to criticize you, but it is really difficult to read!

      • just
        August 30, 2014, 10:26 am

        Finkelstein has a good argument, as usual.

      • just
        August 30, 2014, 10:30 am

        Except for the part about Mexico… that, I don’t really ‘get’.

      • Mooser
        August 30, 2014, 9:33 pm

        “ANSWER IS, IF TWO STATES IS DEAD THEN ONE STATE IS TWICE AS DEAD.”

        Any solution which depends on Israeli cooperation is doomed to failure, a solution imposed on the Israelis might work. But I doubt it, since Israel cannot stand any accounting. The only question is how much damage Israel will do before it collapses.

      • geokat62
        August 31, 2014, 10:01 am

        Appreciate the response.

      • MHughes976
        September 1, 2014, 12:58 pm

        Successive Israeli governments, offered what the world in general seems to think is a way of establishing an intact and prosperous Israel without the problems of occupation, have reacted as if Mooser is completely right and the world in general wrong: no 2ss proposal is on the table, presumably because it would lead or seriously risk leading, in their judgement, to the dismantlement of Israel. Which makes me think that Mooser is a perceptive kind of ungulate.
        Finkelstein’s analogy with Mexico seems very strange to me. It’s not as if the United States had been holding California etc. under occupation since 1846. In fact there has been a 1ss in that area since the 1846 conquest, which by now has come to meet the basic human rights of all the inhabitants and is a reasonably successful real-world model for the 1ss that many would like to see in the ME, not by any means an illustration of the absurdity of 1ss after conquest has taken place.
        Finkelstein may prove that the 2ss is just half as dead as the 1ss. But I think that if you’re just half as dead as Julius Caesar you’re dead.

      • geokat62
        September 2, 2014, 9:56 pm

        “Mooser is a perceptive kind of ungulate”

        Great response… just wondering why the use of the term “ungulate”?

  5. Kay24
    August 29, 2014, 11:34 am

    Thank you to these brave folks. Menendez is my senator, and I have written so many times showing my disappointment in his unbelievable loyalty to Israel, and I have got back emails with the usual garbage about Israel being our good ally etc. Sick of his attitude.

    Booker has turned out to be yet another cheap politician, who has started worshipping at the alter of zionists. What won’t they do to get AIPAC support to further their political career, they even sell their souls to the devil.

    • geokat62
      August 29, 2014, 4:18 pm

      “Booker has turned out to be yet another cheap politician…”

      Congressman Brian Baird: “There is a disdain for the U.S., and a dismissal of any legitimacy of our right to question—because who are we to talk about moral values? Whether it’s that we didn’t help early enough in the Holocaust, or look at what we did to our African-Americans, or our Native Americans—whatever! And they see us, members of Congress, as basically for sale. So they want us to shut up and play the game.” – Friends of Israel, by Connie Bruck

      link to newyorker.com

    • Ellen
      August 31, 2014, 10:49 pm

      Kay, bless you for your efforts. It is not only Menendez, but practically all of the US Senate and Congress. I imagine you have received obnoxious and condescending blather responses written or influenced by AIPAC operatives.

      Our elected officials do not work in the interest of their constituents on the big stuff (only the little showy stuff to keep the illusion) but instead in the interest of where the money is to be raised.

      And there is no money in the Palestinian cause or in the true long term interest of the US.

      The only possibility for this terrible dynamic to change is when a massive number of citizens threaten the political viability of the “staunch supporters” of Isreal Uber Alles., which is the current mindset of the US Congress.

  6. tommy
    August 29, 2014, 5:10 pm

    More, much more, please.

  7. tommy
    August 29, 2014, 5:12 pm

    Another demand protesters could make is to indict Americans serving in the IDF and those living in squatter settlements in Palestine.

  8. Labs4ever
    August 29, 2014, 8:24 pm

    Shame on you both, Senators Menendez and Booker. You are both in violation of U.S. Code. Israel refuses to comply with IAEA regulations and inspections. According to the “Symington Amendment , it is Illegal for the United states to give economic assistance, military assistance and export credits to Israel!!!! How dare you both!

    Amazingly, this country has elected officials blatantly breaking the law and police feel the need to arrest 13 of these patriots, instead! Shameful.

  9. globalconsciousness
    August 29, 2014, 9:52 pm

    I was struck by the photo of the protestors in the cell- such courage aimed at such vainglorious individuals such as Booker and Menendez….it is shocking that constituents cannot even protest without the threat of arrest…just wish this could be circulated via the mainstream press; if more Americans who are unfortunately kept criminally innocent by the media, could in fact see civil disobedience actions that have begun by ordinary people, this could be inspire and begin a huge paradigm shift in the populace..

  10. bilal a
    August 30, 2014, 2:41 am

    British Medical Journal : JSIP, the Judaic State in Palestine, DELIBERATELY, murders Palestinian children

    Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes
    BMJ 2004; 329 doi: link to dx.doi.org (Published 14 October 2004)

    link to bmj.com

  11. jim.galindo
    August 30, 2014, 4:57 am

    This article was posted on Reddit. I just came across this comment which I really have no idea how to respond:

    The only crime Israel commits is tolerating Palestine’s existence. Its about time that Israel use nuclear weapons on Gaza. Either this war will continue to last and more people will be killed, or it can end tomorrow because of Israel’s willingness to destroys Hamas’s morale and will to fight. It worked with Japan.”

    • just
      August 30, 2014, 9:52 am

      There’s really nothing to say other than this “person” is a genocidal lunatic.

      They do exist.

      • Mooser
        August 30, 2014, 12:15 pm

        “There’s really nothing to say other than this “person” is a genocidal lunatic.”

        You are going to take somebody who writes like this : “The only crime Israel commits is tolerating Palestine’s existence.) at his word? I wouldn’t.

    • Peace2All
      August 30, 2014, 7:51 pm

      Yes very true ….high moral people ; champion of democracy shows the true self on human lives !
      It work with Japan now Gaza tomorrow the world !

  12. American
    August 30, 2014, 12:24 pm

    You can get beaten up for being Pro Palestine also.

    link to aljazeera.com

    George Galloway ‘beaten over Israel comments’

    Pro-Palestinian British MP attacked in London street by man said to have been shouting about the Holocaust.

    • just
      August 30, 2014, 12:33 pm

      I thought that pretty stunning. Would any Congressperson face the same here if they were Pro- Palestinian?

      Gideon Levy has to have bodyguards and regularly gets threats. Other Pro- Palestinian Rights folks in Israel get attacked. Lehava protests intermarriage……..

      Desperation resulting in more violence.

      • Kay24
        August 30, 2014, 4:58 pm

        Desperation is right, but violence is part of the zionist method of madness.

    • bilal a
      August 31, 2014, 10:05 pm

      Turns out Israeli critics need police protection against Islamaphobes JDL:

      Facebook threats made against Galloway just hours before vicious street attack as man is charged with religiously aggravated assault on Respect MP

      Read more: link to dailymail.co.uk
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