Our congressman is Sean Patrick Maloney. He used to live on Phil’s road. Ours is a swing district in the Hudson Valley, but Sean as everyone calls him once worked for Bill Clinton and is socially progressive. He’s been a leader on gay rights and on women’s rights. He’s married to a guy who works on prison issues. He spent a year doing social work in South America and is dedicated to fighting racism. Sean embodies our political values, and we believe he knows what’s going on in Palestine, knows about the human rights debacle for Palestinians.
Sean is up against Nan Hayworth, a Republican who held this district two years ago; and fundraising is a big concern. We can only guess what the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Steve Israel– Sean’s House colleague who just went out to Israel to kiss Netanyahu’s ring– has told him about where the money is.
But Sean has kept his mouth firmly clamped on Gaza. He’s said nothing on his twitter feed; though he did say this about the conflict six weeks ago:
America joins Israel in mourning the loss of three innocent young men who were brutally and senselessly murdered… http://t.co/Zd0Jg4EV3Y
— Sean Patrick Maloney (@RepSeanMaloney) July 1, 2014
He even put out a statement about those Israeli teens. Not a word about Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was murdered a day later, also in territory Israel illegally occupies.
Then two weeks ago, Sean voted to send another $225 million to Israel, joining 394 other congresspeople. Eight brave reps voted against, from both parties: Jim Moran, Justin Amash, Walter Jones, Keith Ellison, Thomas Massie, Zoe Lofgren, Beto O’Rourke, Mark Sanford.
Joan was so upset by that vote, she wrote to Sean and sent him the speech in Austin, TX, in which Rania Masri addressed President Obama’s claim about “barbaric” action by Hamas and pointed out the countless barbaric acts by Israel. Joan said:
We would like to know your position on this subject and more important arrange a meeting with you to discuss the implications of using our tax dollars to support this truly shameful and barbaric war.
Sean wrote back and completely ducked her ask.
Dear Dr. Turner,
Thank you for contacting me about our nation’s foreign policy. As your representative in Congress, I appreciate hearing your thoughts on the issues most important to my neighbors in the Hudson Valley.
Our foreign policy must always reflect our national security priorities and our American values like freedom and democracy. Key to this strategy is supporting our ally Israel, which is essential for security in the Middle East. I am also deeply concerned about the ongoing conflict in Syria as well as Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons capability. I currently support the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, which would strengthen and expand enforcement of current sanctions on Iran. We must look at solving conflicts through diplomacy before they divulge into large-scale crises that could cost American lives….
Thank you again for sharing your views with me. My staff and I are here to help, so please contact my office to let me know how we can best serve you, either in Washington or at home in the Hudson Valley.
This evasion and blindness can’t last.
There are strong signs that the Democratic rank-and-file have had enough. They don’t think Israel embodies our values of “freedom and democracy,” as Sean contends; in fact, they think our blind support is undermining U.S. security. Polls show that young Americans and people of color say that Israel was unjustified in its Gaza onslaught, by a two-to-one ratio, and Democrats and Independents are against it by a huge margin.
And yes the New York donor class Sean has to cater to now may be supporting the massacre, but even the political elites are changing. Look at the floor demonstration at the last Democratic convention: all the delegates who got noisy and angry as the Democratic leadership railroaded a platform clause saying that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
We know a lot of people like that who live in the Hudson Valley. “The rockets Hamas is firing are about as effective as the rockets we shoot on the Fourth of July,” a local contractor said at a dinner party on Sean’s old road Friday night.
Folks who are disturbed by the Gaza onslaught are going to make themselves heard. We’re going to do whatever we can to get them heard, by liberal politicians.
We’re waiting for an east coast politician to break over the massacre, and say, Enough, I’m not giving them money when they’re slaughtering children. We’re waiting for that NY, NJ, MD politician who will join Ellison, Massie, Lofgren, and Jones in the spirit of humanity. Someone’s going to break– why not Sean?
Phil Weiss and Joan Turner are neighbors and friends in New York’s 18th congressional district.