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Congressman Joe Pitts: ‘It is incumbent on Ariel Sharon and Yasir Arafat to restart a peace process’

on 32 Comments
Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon . . . in 1998. (Photo: Reuters)

Apparently, my congressman believes that the solution for peace in the Middle East will be reached by encouraging negotiations between a vegetable and a dead man.

My father recently received a form letter response from Joe Pitts (Pennsylvania’s 16th district). A year ago, after visiting me in Ramallah, my father contacted Pitts’ office, expressing his opposition to House Resolution 268, a one-sided resolution that condemned Palestinians and reaffirmed the US “commitment to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. The incredibly baffling, much-delayed response from Pitts included this gem:

With the global war against terrorism, it is now incumbent on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasir Arafat to clamp down on Palestinian extremists that have perpetuated violence and to restart a peace process that has collapsed.

Joe Pitts
Joe Pitts

This response was dated April 20, 2012. I realize that members of Congress use form letters to communicate quickly with their constituents, but when they are as outdated as this on an issue that is so central to US foreign policy, one might question the intelligence or efficacy of such a politician. I wonder to whom Pitts thought he was giving those standing ovations when Netanyahu spoke to Congress?

As Thaer Halahla and Bilal Thiab struggle through the seventy-fifth day of their hunger strike, Netanyahu has solidified his grip on power with his move to a coalition government and cancellation of elections. Palestinians are dying to live while the Israeli apartheid state stays alive on the feeding tube of American money and weaponry. Pitts has unwittingly provided us with a brilliant metaphor of the peace process. It is comatose, if not dead. Yet, he tells us negotiations are the answer. Arafat and Sharon must act to restart negotiations. A dead man and a vegetable.

Ian Rhodewalt

Ian Rhodewalt is a writer and educator from Pennsylvania, USA. He has been living in Ramallah for a year, and is a graduate of Oberlin College. Currently he is working on a book.

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32 Responses

  1. OlegR on May 13, 2012, 11:01 am

    Almost makes me laugh.

  2. Blake on May 13, 2012, 11:24 am

    Just goes to show how out of touch most Americans are (present company excluded of course).

  3. American on May 13, 2012, 11:26 am

    Any questions about the vegetables that get elected to office by vegetables?

  4. Les on May 13, 2012, 11:37 am

    That was too good to keep secret. Thanks for sharing it with us. I have already passed in on.

  5. annie on May 13, 2012, 11:45 am

    i just had to send this to @JoePitts4PA


  6. Rusty Pipes on May 13, 2012, 11:58 am

    Apparently, Ariel Sharon not only put the peace process in formaldehyde, but some congresscritters’ brains.

  7. Tuyzentfloot on May 13, 2012, 12:14 pm

    Well that was fun. It should be possible to pull more of this stuff out of him before he catches on :)

  8. American on May 13, 2012, 12:27 pm

    Are they still keeping Sharon alive..if you can call it that?
    Seems a bit obscene to do that when he isn’t really there any more….just a shell kept up by machines.

    • seafoid on May 13, 2012, 1:27 pm

      A bit like Zionism

      • Jerome Slater on May 14, 2012, 7:59 pm

        Not bad, Seafoid. Though, of course, I disagree, more or less.

    • W.Jones on May 13, 2012, 2:30 pm

      as Prime Minister, in 2004–05 Sharon orchestrated Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Facing stiff opposition to this policy within the Likud, in November 2005 he left Likud to form a new Kadima party. His stroke occurred a few months before he had been expected to win a new election on the platform of an Israeli withdrawal from almost all of the West Bank.

      What is it with all of these MidEast leaders going comatose- Sharon, Tunisia’s president Abidine, Mubarak?

    • anonymouscomments on May 13, 2012, 11:53 pm

      I think they are keeping him alive for 2 reasons
      1) pulling the plug is not something Christian Zionists in the US want to hear about
      2) whenever they should decide to let him pass (to hell if there is one) there will be political timing involved. Nothing is apolitical when it comes to Zionism…. The death will precipitate some events/marches staged to provoke friction. So he’ll “die” when the timing is right.

  9. Hostage on May 13, 2012, 12:37 pm

    Are they still keeping Sharon alive..if you can call it that? . . . Seems a bit obscene

    Well this part is certainly obscene: “despite being fed intravenously, has put on weight, according to his son Gilad Sharon.”

    • Samuel T on May 13, 2012, 11:52 pm


      Your comment that “Sharon has put on weight despite being fed intravenously” is according to his SON. Do you think he picked up his Dad and put him on a scale and checked his current weight? Son, Dad, this is a Family matter. For you to add “obscene” to your comments weighs in on your ignorance and your complete lack of empathy towards any ONE who has had a Family Member debilitated from the affects of a stroke.

      • Taxi on May 14, 2012, 12:17 am

        Aaaaah the sweet sound of violins played to sooth a hapless war criminal.

      • American on May 14, 2012, 1:18 am


        I am the one who used the word obscene. Sharon has no brain function according to what I read in the Guardian’s last article on this.
        He’s not just “dehabilated.” No Brain function means he is dead.
        Have the decency to bury the body.
        My father died of a stroke and I know the progression in strokes that culminate in the final and fatal one which is what Sharon had.
        So get off your high horse and don’t be lecturing people.

      • Sumud on May 14, 2012, 3:52 am

        I don’t know why you’re bothered by that Samuel T – Sharon is scum.

        Why are comments specific to Sharon deemed offensive to stroke victims around the world?

      • Hostage on May 15, 2012, 5:29 am

        Your comment that “Sharon has put on weight despite being fed intravenously” is according to his SON.

        Samuel T,

        So what? If his team of doctors have allowed Sharon to gain weight, or if his ignoramus son is bragging in public that his morbidly obese father has gained even more weight, that truly would be “obscene” in either case. Where’s Dov Weissglass and his “diet plans” when somebody really needs one?

        Ariel Sharon was sent home to his ranch in the Negev on a “trial basis” in November of 2010.

        Nearly a year later, his son said that he hoped his father would be able to return home permanently from Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem in the coming year. The family was finally asked to pay part of his annual medical bill of NIS 1.5 million. I would hope to God that someone is weighing this guy each time he’s been readmitted to the hospital, if not more frequently. Since many medications have an initial weight-adjusted dose. Obesity is a key risk factor for atrial fibrilation which can trigger ischemic events like Sharon’s first stroke. Sharon was being treated with anticoagulants due to the risk of atrial fibrilation when he suffered a second near fatal hemorrhagic stroke. His second stroke can be viewed as a medical complication of his earlier treatment.
        *Ariel Sharon responds to stimulus, son tells ‘NY Times’
        *Ariel Sharon’s family to pay part of his medical costs
        *Blood Thinners a Danger in Sharon’s Treatment

  10. piotr on May 13, 2012, 2:36 pm

    If we can raise the peace process from the death bed, why shouldn’t we also resurrect some humans? Or have a zombie process with zombie participants?

  11. stopaipac on May 13, 2012, 4:23 pm

    the letter further stated that the congressman stood by efforts of President Reagan to restart the peace talks.

  12. stopaipac on May 13, 2012, 4:39 pm

    all seriousness aside, a congressperson need only change the names in order to conform to the aipac-approved response to such inquiries. As in:
    “I support President (fill-in name of current President)’s efforts to restart the talks with Prime Minister (current leader of Israel) and (leader of Palestinians). (condemn Palestinian violence here).

    pretty much the same response for the last 20 years or so.
    that is a congresspersons way of pretending to say something while really saying nothing.

    • Les on May 13, 2012, 5:48 pm

      Only 20 years? You are very generous to our politicians.

      • stopaipac on May 13, 2012, 6:40 pm

        before the Oslo talks, there was no recognition of Palestinian leaders at all, so the refrain was different.

  13. Antidote on May 13, 2012, 5:11 pm

    I didn’t get the headline until I read the article. Not funny. Unreal. Great exposure, though. Thank you, Ian

  14. annie bis on May 13, 2012, 5:36 pm

    I’ll have a hard time falling asleep for laughing too much

  15. stevelaudig on May 13, 2012, 6:34 pm

    The odds on the present reality accomplishing peace are, it seems to me, not that much different from the alternate reality that Congressdummy Pitts insists upon. Persistent vegetative state accurately describes the current situation. Representative democracy is precisely what the name implies. Perhaps that is why is fails so persistently and grandly.

  16. eGuard on May 13, 2012, 6:56 pm

    Peter Beinart will come to the rescue.

  17. RoHa on May 13, 2012, 6:58 pm

    This guy is part of the US Government? He’s allowed to vote on things?

  18. Shingo on May 13, 2012, 7:27 pm

    This probably explains the 29 standing ovations Netenyahu received. Any more proof needed of how ignorant members of Congress are on the subject?

    I almost hate to say it, but while I suspect most Israelis secretly wish Arafat was still alive, I would happily trade Netenyahu for Sharon.

  19. Nevada Ned on May 13, 2012, 11:27 pm

    Dear Congressman Pitts:

    You appear to have sent me the wrong form letter.

    See attached correspondence from


    [your name here]

  20. Miriam on May 14, 2012, 7:58 am

    No laughing matter, here…considering this maroon Joe Pitts, with his Masters in Education, & former teacher has served for EIGHT TERMS, no teaparty newcomer.
    I’d suggest he be put in stocks in front of the Capitol Bldg -the only suitable public response to such ignorance.
    He sits on the Energy and Commerce committee and its Environment & Economy subcomm and Chairs the Energy Health subcommittee (think Keystone XL). THIS explains a lot about US policy and the folks in PA’s 16th district who elected him 8 times. His twitter: repjoepitts his office # 202-225 2411; district office (Lancaster: 717-393-0667).

  21. Chespirito on May 14, 2012, 5:32 pm

    I think you all are being entirely too hard on Rep. Joe Pitts. Yes his advice for the “peace process” is ignorant, moronic even, but no more so than the inane guidance of folks like Peter Beinart, Michael Walzer, J Street and the whole caboodle of liberals who warble about peace while demanding $3bn/year in unconditional military aid for Israel. Against this backdrop of disingenuous lobbying for a never-ending “war process,” Pitts’ imbecilic counsel is, in its way, refreshing!

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