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Dear Senator Blumenthal, Thank you for your dreadful letter

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As conservative Israelis and their leaders (with John Boehner and the Republicans in tow) charge ahead to finalize a Greater Israel and exclusive Jewish state at the expense of its professed democratic values and the basic human and civil rights of Palestinians and other non-Jews living within its pre- and post-1967 borders, now is the time to get vocal, very vocal. Now is the time to push congressional Democrats (and cheer on the Obama administration which seems to have found its voice), to stop writing Israel a blank check.

We need to tell our Democratic representatives (and Republicans if any are listening) that the US can no longer support the collective insanity that is Israel’s plan for the Palestinians, which is unending violence until they give up almost all their land to Jews.

My own modest (really) effort to influence the debate is contained in the below “correspondence” with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D.) My other congressional representatives, Rep. Jim Himes (D) and Senator Chris Murphy (D), all of whom ignored my admonishments not to attend Netanyahu’s speech to the Congress, can expect to receive similar letters. But here’s the one to Blumenthal.

Dear Senator Blumenthal:

Except for the dreadful content, I appreciated you responding to my February e-mail urging you not to attend Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress. Because your response (copied below for your convenience) is based on assumptions that can charitably be called myths, especially in light of some of Netanyahu’s recent campaign statements, I am writing you again, this times to voice my concerns with your Feb. 7th reply to me. Obviously, your decision to attend the speech was a poor one.

The most egregiously misinformed myths about Israel that I would like to address appear in the second paragraph of your reply, wherein you say: “Israel is a crucial ally of the United States and a successful democratic state in the Middle East.” Here’s what you need to know.

1. With Allies Like This Who Needs Enemies:

At the end of February, prior to Netanyahu’s speech, US Secretary of State John Kerry in his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee observed that Netanyahu was “profoundly forward leaning and outspoken” in his push to get the US into war with Iraq. “We all know,” Kerry said, “what happened with that decision.”

Netanyahu’s blatant use of US domestic partisan politics to interfere with our President’s stated and reasonable policy to negotiate with Iran over its potential to develop nuclear weapons (Israel is said to have 80 warheads) is outrageous and you need to know that and act accordingly. Netanyahu’s rejection of negotiation and incessant warmongering is both wrong and motivated by Israeli, not US interests. President Obama’s distaste for sending our troops to war is generally commendable: and the risk of war only increases if we don’t negotiate with Iran on this and other issues. Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, you will have noticed, proposed no alternative to negotiation. And just a few days ago the NYT published a piece by John Bolton, who by now should have been thoroughly discredited, advocating that the United States, yes, the United States, should bomb Iran.

In the last days of his campaign, a panicky Netanyahu revealed that there would be no Palestinian state, i.e., “two state solution,” while he was Prime Minister, a statement that he is now vigorously backpedaling on. This backpedaling, of course, is just a ruse by an untrustworthy head of state that this administration is unlikely to fall for, and neither should you.

What kind of ally permits its most generous supporter (@$3.5 billion a year and counting) to spin its wheels in countless hours of negotiations for a two state solution knowing full well it has no intention of ever permitting a Palestinian state? It’s just outrageous and you need to know that and start acting accordingly.

And what kind of ally meddles in another ally’s domestic political process using cash and influence peddling to achieve foreign policy goals solely in its own (Israeli) interest and frequently antithetical to the well being of its benefactor (the US), examples of which abound in John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s landmark paper on the Israel lobby and US foreign policy published in 2006 in the London Review of Books, which you need to read (and act on accordingly). Churchill might have advocated for United States involvement in World War II prior to Pearl Harbor, but Bibi is no Churchill and Iran is not Germany circa 1941. ( I’d be interested in what evidence you have that Israel is a good ally of the U.S.)

In sum, Israel may be a United States ally, but it is not a good one and cannot be trusted.

2. Israeli “Democracy”

In your response to my e-mail, you refer to Israel as “a successful democratic state.”

Are you joking? Israel is about as “successful” a democracy as South Africa was before 1994 when Nelson Mandela forced F. W. de Klerk to accept universal suffrage and the right of all races to vote.

A country that deprives over a third of its population of basic civil rights, including the right to vote, for nearly half a century cannot be called a democracy. Now that Israel’s Prime Minister (and electorate) have publicly repudiated the “two state” solution, comparison to recent South African history is inevitable and more appropriate than ever. Israel has now condemned itself and the Palestinians to a continuation and intensification of violence and repression through the inhuman and immoral apparatus of apartheid. That’s what Netanyahu and his supporters want but cannot be permitted to have. Like South Africa, the only moral solution to the conflict and violence is one person, one vote, regardless of race. But first there will be violence and lots of it (just think back to this past summer and the slaughter of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and the Hamas missiles reigning down on Israel), because Israel is not even close to a democracy and you need to know that and act accordingly, which means acting in the interest of the U.S. first and not just Israel.

Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians violates basic standard of human decency and international law and must be stopped now. Only the US has the power to influence the outcome and we can do without even going to war.
Regards,

John Fearey
March 28, 2015

P.S. To better understand Israel, I recommend you (and relevant staff members) read Max Blumenthal’s, “Goliath, Life and Loathing in Greater Israel” (Nation Books 2012). Are you and Max by any chance related?

Feb. 9, 2015 letter from Senator Blumenthal of CT to me.

Dear Mr. Fearey,

Thank you for your message regarding Prime Minister Netanyahu and his invitation to address Congress on Iran. I appreciate hearing from you.

I share your concerns over the Speaker of the House’s decision to invite a foreign head of state without consulting the White House. The relationship between the United States and Israel is simply too important to be used for partisan advantages. Israel is a crucial ally of the United States and a successful democratic state in the Middle East. Recent turmoil in the region adds urgency and importance to ensuring that Israel remains a secure, stable, and independent state.

At the same time, addressing the Iranian nuclear program should remain a bipartisan priority in Congress. I was pleased to be an original cosponsor of S. 269, legislation introduced by Senators Kirk and Menendez that would expand sanctions imposed with respect to Iran if a comprehensive agreement is not reached. I additionally signed onto a letter with my Senate colleagues vowing to withhold support for sanctions legislation until March 24, 2015 in order to allow the President time to continue negotiations. I encourage the President to pursue a final deal that will successfully prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability.

I hope that President Obama’s continued efforts lead to a permanent agreement that brings Iran into full compliance with its obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions and under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Thank you again for your message. Please feel free to contact me in the future with any additional questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Richard Blumenthal
United States Senate

About John Fearey

John Fearey is a retired lawyer who now reads, paints and goes to art class among other things.

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18 Responses

  1. just
    March 29, 2015, 4:07 pm

    Nicely done, John. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and your correspondence. Out of my 3 reps, only one replied to my numerous requests to avoid Netanyahu’s speech entirely, and I got much the same response from him as you did from Richard Blumenthal.

    Blumenthal has become a fitting replacement for Joe Lieberman.

    He was less dangerous as CT Attorney General.

    I read this the other day:

    “CT high school students attend AIPAC Conference
    In early March, a group of eight delegates from the Hebrew High School of New England (HHNE), accompanied by head of school Rabbi Jeremy Bruce and Lorie Zackin, joined 16,000 pro-Israel activists – including 3,000 high school and college students – at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.”

    The students listened to speeches by several members of Congress, as well as world leaders, including Milos Zemen, president of the Czech Republic; Jose Maria Aznar, former prime minister of Spain; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Senator John McCain. …

    …On their final day in Washington, the students put the lessons they learned to good use when they visited at the offices of U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Congressman John Larson, to share their concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and their hope for a Congressional role in U.S. negotiations with Iran. Through the courtesy of Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, they also toured the Capitol building, including the entire main structure and the many corridors that congressmen use to maneuver inside the building.”

    http://www.jewishledger.com/2015/03/ct-high-school-students-attend-aipac-conference/

    Perhaps their “concerns” were scripted by others.

    • Giles
      March 29, 2015, 6:12 pm

      Richard Blumenthal, D, Tel Aviv.

    • John Fearey
      March 30, 2015, 12:49 am

      Thanks just. I also agree with you and Giles about Lieberman. I took a course from him in college on state and local politics which he was good at and should have stayed in. He was a state senator was a state senator for quite a few years. If he did anything worthwhile as a U.S. Senator it is completely overshadowed by his warmongering in the Mid East. I think he really lost it in his last few years after he lost the democratic nomination to Lamonte. Lieberman was so over the top about committing US troops. Pretty sure he missed Vietnam which is so typical of these guys.
      Not sure if Blumenthal has done much on international relations, but I’m he’ll be looking to, groan

      • just
        March 30, 2015, 7:56 am

        Ned Lamont was such a great candidate and would have made a super Senator! I worked really hard to get him elected.

        Lieberman allied himself with McCain, Graham and Bush and let his true self sally forth as an “Independent” who shamelessly shilled for war and Israel. He was no longer Joe, the affable Democrat from CT. He became a verifiable warmonger.

        “The Senate’s three most predictable and least credible warmongering “moderates” frequently join forces to publish joint Op-Eds or hold press conferences and the one thing they always, invariably want is for the United States to have just a little bit more war than it currently has, somewhere far away. Sure, we could draw down in Iraq … or we could listen to McCain, Lieberman and Graham and draw back up. We could draw down in Afghanistan … or we could stay the course and keep sending troops there until we win! Americans may be tired of endless war with no coherent goal, but on the other hand, “only decisive force can prevail in [whatever country John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman are talking about now].”

        As the Hill recently explained in a story on how John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman were pushing for a resolution basically promising to make war with Iran, “Graham, Lieberman and McCain are considered some of the top foreign policy experts in the upper chamber,” because they always, invariably support military intervention everywhere for any reason, and that is invariably considered a sign of “seriousness” in Washington. If you don’t like waging wars everywhere, forever, you are a weird kooky hippie, and everyone laughs at you. If you believe that bombs and troops have the power to magically solve all problems, you are invited on all the Sunday shows every week to offer your sober analysis of the foreign situation.”

        http://www.salon.com/2012/03/29/mccain_lieberman_and_graham_the_senates_three_war_crazed_amigos/

        And in his goodbye interview with Haaretz:

        “The Palestinian Authority’s demand that Israel freeze settlements is “an excuse” not to return to the negotiating table, said Senator Joe Lieberman in a wide-ranging interview with Haaretz ahead of his retirement next month.

        Lieberman also called the PA’s move to upgrade its United Nations status a “mistake.” “The real answer here is for them to go back to negotiations without preconditions. The whole business of settlement freeze is really an excuse. I don’t mean it doesn’t sincerely agitate them, but it wasn’t a condition before. And now when Prime Minister Netanyahu is clear about his support of the two-state solution, and there is an overwhelming support among the Israeli people for negotiations, it only complicates the process going to the UN, and I think reduces the confidence of the government of Israel in the Palestinian Authority,” said the veteran Connecticut senator, a longtime Democrat who is currently an independent, in the interview held late last week…

        ….On the walls of Lieberman’s senate office – he has served as a senator for 24 years – are a number of photographs, some with President Barack Obama, others with past presidents and a prominently displayed picture with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

        Some of Lieberman’s liberal critics see his stubborn support of Israel as his Achilles’ heel and have argued that Congress has failed to play a constructive role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

        http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/israel-bids-adieu-to-joe-lieberman-a-staunch-ally-in-u-s-senate.premium-1.481786

        Anyway, Blumenthal’s letter and attendance at Netanyahu’s speech is a disappointment. Maybe he just dusted off one of Joe’s, changed the signature, et voilà!

        Thanks again, John!

        PS– Joe didn’t go to Vietnam. He got 2 deferments… like his buddy Cheney. The only war he opposed was the one war he might have had to fight in~ Vietnam.

    • John Fearey
      March 30, 2015, 11:13 am

      I just Googled “Sen. Blumenthal” and learned two things. First, according to Wikipedia, Blumenthal did what many privileged white boys (including me) did during the Vietnam War when the deferments ran out, which was to join the National Guard or USAR for 6 years. Unlike today, you knew you were going to stay right here in the US of A. I went in as a private and came out as a private. Bllumenthal came out as a sergeant which means he was trying way to hard although it did take some doing to come out as a private I suppose. The other thing I learned is that when you Google “Blumenthal”” now, this Mondoweiss article piece is one of the first things that pops up. That’s got to be a little annoying to his office if they know. You know the story about Rick Santorum and Google, right?
      I just finished J. Jacquet’s really excellent new book on shaming (and heard her speak). There’s power in shaming, but as JJ inscribed to me in my copy of her book, “”Aim well and be careful.”
      cheers,
      John

      • just
        March 30, 2015, 10:34 pm

        “The other thing I learned is that when you Google “Blumenthal”” now, this Mondoweiss article piece is one of the first things that pops up. That’s got to be a little annoying to his office if they know. You know the story about Rick Santorum and Google, right?”

        Well done, John!

        I do remember Santorum’s Google “problem”~ Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert covered it magnificently.

        Thanks for all that you’re doing.

  2. JLewisDickerson
    March 30, 2015, 12:13 am

    I JUST EMAILED THIS LETTER TO BOTH OF MY SENATORS USING FCNLs SITE – http://capwiz.com/fconl/mailapp/

    Dear Senator [Johnny Isakson (R-GA), David Perdue (R-GA)]:

    I am a constituent of yours residing in the Smyrna/Vinings area of Cobb County, Georgia and I write to ask that you reconsider your knee-jerk support for the far-right government of Israel.

    1. With Allies Like This Who Needs Enemies:

    At the end of February, prior to Netanyahu’s speech, US Secretary of State John Kerry in his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee observed that Netanyahu was “profoundly forward leaning and outspoken” in his push to get the US into war with Iraq. “We all know,” Kerry said, “what happened with that decision.”

    Netanyahu’s blatant use of US domestic partisan politics to interfere with our President’s stated and reasonable policy to negotiate with Iran over its potential to develop nuclear weapons (Israel is said to have 80 warheads) is outrageous and you need to know that and act accordingly. Netanyahu’s rejection of negotiation and incessant warmongering is both wrong and motivated by Israeli, not US interests. President Obama’s distaste for sending our troops to war is generally commendable: and the risk of war only increases if we don’t negotiate with Iran on this and other issues. Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, you will have noticed, proposed no alternative to negotiation. And just a few days ago the NYT published a piece by John Bolton, who by now should have been thoroughly discredited, advocating that the United States, yes, the United States, should bomb Iran.

    In the last days of his campaign, a panicky Netanyahu revealed that there would be no Palestinian state, i.e., “two-state solution,” while he was Prime Minister, a statement that he is now vigorously backpedaling on. This backpedaling, of course, is just a ruse by an untrustworthy head of state that this administration is unlikely to fall for, and neither should you.

    What kind of ally permits its most generous supporter (@$3.5 billion a year and counting) to spin its wheels in countless hours of negotiations for a two state solution knowing full well it has no intention of ever permitting a Palestinian state? It’s just outrageous and you need to know that and start acting accordingly.

    And what kind of ally meddles in another ally’s domestic political process using cash and influence peddling to achieve foreign policy goals solely in its own (Israeli) interest and frequently antithetical to the well-being of its benefactor (the US), examples of which abound in John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s landmark paper on the Israel lobby and US foreign policy published in 2006 in the London Review of Books, which you need to read (and act on accordingly). Churchill might have advocated United States involvement in World War II prior to Pearl Harbor, but Bibi is no Churchill and Iran is not Germany circa 1941. ( I’d be interested in what evidence you have that Israel is a good ally of the U.S.)

    In sum, Israel may be a United States ally, but it is not a good one and cannot be trusted.

    2. Israeli “Democracy”

    A country that deprives over a third of its population of basic civil rights, including the right to vote, for nearly half a century cannot be called a democracy. Now that Israel’s Prime Minister (and Israel’s electorate) have publicly repudiated the “two-state” solution, comparison to recent South African history is inevitable and more appropriate than ever. Israel has now condemned itself and the Palestinians to a continuation and intensification of violence and repression through the inhuman and immoral apparatus of apartheid. That’s what Netanyahu and his supporters want but cannot be permitted to have. Like South Africa, the only moral solution to the conflict and violence is one person, one vote, regardless of race. But first there will be violence and lots of it (just think back to this past summer and the slaughter of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and the Hamas missiles reigning down on Israel), because Israel is not even close to a democracy and you need to know that and act accordingly, which means acting in the interest of the U.S. first and not just Israel.

    Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians violates basic standard of human decency and international law and must be stopped now. Only the US has the power to influence the outcome and we can do without even going to war.

    For the aforementioned reasons, I implore you to reconsider your knee-jerk support for the far-right government of Israel.

    Sincerely,

    John L. Dickerson

  3. ritzl
    March 30, 2015, 5:07 am

    Great letters, Mr. Fearey and Mr. Dickerson.

  4. a blah chick
    March 30, 2015, 10:51 am

    I think the senator sent a form letter that was the equivalent of “la, la,la, I cannot hear you!”

  5. Annie Robbins
    March 30, 2015, 1:26 pm

    now is the time to get vocal, very vocal.

    john, awesome post (letter!). i wish every informed citizen would inundate congress members with letters like this. i think they don’t know we know, or think our complaints are superficial.

    My own modest (really) effort to influence the debate is …

    ha! keep it up! i love your emergence, in activism and our discussion. write more for us!!!!

  6. nssf
    March 30, 2015, 4:31 pm

    I applaud Mr. Fearey’s letter, and also his persistence, since I know from my own efforts how frustrating it is to be met with the blank wall of rhetoric/form letters those of us who aren’t m/billionaire donors typically receive from Washington. (You don’t suppose they don’t really want to hear from us, do you?)

    I also applaud Mr. Dickerson’s letter (and his enthusiasm!) … but wish he’d acknowledged the original author of the letter he sent, who, if I’m reading it right, appears to be Mr. Fearey. Apologize if I have that wrong, but I don’t, why didn’t anyone else notice?

    Mr. Fearey’s strong encouragement that we all get busy writing our representatives is well taken, so I will, and will encourage fellow travelers to do the same. Because you’re right … now that he’s making some respectable efforts, we should do everything possible to help Mr. Obama continue.

    • John Fearey
      April 1, 2015, 8:54 pm

      thanks for the nice comments. Re: your second paragraph, I’m gratified that anyone would use all or part of what I wrote and hope they do if they want. I guess in a way, sending the letter into MW was to give interested parties a form if they want to use it. So, no worries

      • nssf
        April 1, 2015, 10:53 pm

        It’s good to know you feel that way, John. I’m not sure everyone is so generous.

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