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Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney dodges Gaza question (and how long can he get away with that?)

Israel/Palestine
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney

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:

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. 

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About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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19 Responses

  1. mascraig
    mascraig
    August 19, 2014, 10:44 am

    That wasn’t an evasion, that was a form letter. He didn’t even bother to ‘evade.’ I think Joan has even more to be upset about.

  2. DaveS
    DaveS
    August 19, 2014, 11:02 am

    It is often difficult to determine whether Israel’s congressional supporters are true believers, or more knowledgeable but cowed by the power of the Israel lobby. In my opinion, it usually doesn’t matter anyway. In this case, though, I get a strong sense that Maloney knows what’s going on, but has a genuine fear of losing his seat if he speaks up. His opponent (who used to be my ophthalmologist) waxed rhapsodically about her trip to Israel when she was in office and no doubt would benefit greatly if Maloney were to speak up. Maloney comes from a very insecure district that has swung back and forth for the past couple of decades. Doing the right thing might very well give Hayworth a victory. I know it’s very frustrating but I can’t see much of a surprise here. The eight Congresspeople who voted against the measure all have somewhat more security than Maloney, I would think.

    On the other hand, I saw a tweet from Glenn Greenwald a few weeks ago, asking whether there was any member of Congress willing to risk his/her seat by condemning the wanton slaughter of children. Good question.

  3. seafoid
    seafoid
    August 19, 2014, 11:09 am

    I think Congress should take over the catholic church’s mantle of “the great whore”

    • Chu
      Chu
      August 19, 2014, 12:52 pm

      and perhaps there’s a bit of room for the US media inside that tent?

  4. Cliff
    Cliff
    August 19, 2014, 11:13 am

    99% of American politicians have to avoid the hysteria of the organized Jewish community.

    And Zionist Jews in the Establishment.

    So between money and our bankrupt political culture, you simply cannot expect these bought-and-paid-for hacks to be fair and/or honest in anything they say regarding Israel/Palestine.

    The further you move away from the pressure of the organized Jewish community – the more open the debate is and the less control Zionism has on a political culture.

  5. Dan Crowther
    Dan Crowther
    August 19, 2014, 11:17 am

    He didn’t evade anything – he’s for Israel. He’s for our “national security” blah blah blah.

    I think it’s about time for folks with liberal leanings to wake up and realize identity politics is a sham, most of the time it’s a cover for Imperialism. Assuming someone “knows what’s right” because he’s gay or supports “womens issues” is naive, and frankly, stupid, in light of thirty years of Identity Warriors revealing themselves to be war mongers and apologists for the Surveillance State. One might even conclude there’s a quid pro quo with Power: We let “you” in, you support the broad imperial (read military industrial) agenda. Tell me I’m wrong.

    • Chu
      Chu
      August 19, 2014, 12:47 pm

      I agree – you have to assume that even if these people are getting hand-drafted letters (via AIPAC reps) on how to respond to letters from constituents, that this man doesn’t really care about the bigger picture.
      Plus, added pressure from his party from the top-down would probably dissuade him from doing anything significant. We need a few Jim Trafficant types back in the house to stir the pot.

      This man may chalk it up at the end of the day that getting elected to represent certain social issues was the reason he ran for a representative. But having to be mum about foreign policy is how these greasy people survive. Rachel Maddow almost could mirror what this man is doing – act like you a ‘liberal’ in the domestic sphere and play dumb about foreign policy.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        August 19, 2014, 12:59 pm

        I don’t think Joan’s ask was evaded, it was brushed aside with unambiguous scorn. Security is paramount, Israel promotes security, your views oppose Israel, therefore your views have to be disregarded. Quite tight logic, really.

      • Chu
        Chu
        August 19, 2014, 2:13 pm

        The ‘template’ letter seems like one AIPAC lobbyist could have provided it to the congressman, because it’s a well-crafted letter that deflects criticism while hiding behind the security issue, and managing to say whatabout Syria, whatabout Iran, etc.

        The Congressman can always defer to the wiser controlled elders of the Democratic Party. Those people (Steny Hoyer, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Shumer, Harry Reid, etc) are the message makers for Netanyahu. I think the target should often be on these people, with a clear campaign to take them down, instead of the fresher members.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        August 19, 2014, 4:11 pm

        Cliche and paraonoia deserve a less kindly phrase than ‘well-crafted’ if you ask me.

    • Keith
      Keith
      August 19, 2014, 5:00 pm

      DAN CROWTHER- “One might even conclude there’s a quid pro quo with Power….”

      I think it goes even deeper than that. By going along with what the fat cats want, they maintain the illusion that they have some power, some influence. To oppose the real rulers of society is to face humiliating defeat and expose their own powerlessness. Kind of like the imperial senate in Rome which debated serious matters only to conclude that they concurred with the emperor. Funny how that works.

      • lysias
        lysias
        August 19, 2014, 5:16 pm

        A tribune of the plebs (tribunus plebis) under the Republic had the power to veto any action of the Senate. The Caesars, starting with Augustus, were tribunes of the plebs for life, with the same tribunician power (tribunicia potestas) to veto any action of the Senate.

        So the Senate, by concurring with the emperor, only bowed to legal reality.

        Here in America, the legal power remains with the politicians in the executive and legislative branches, not with the fat cats. The politicians only choose not to use that power. For reasons that are not at all clear. Why are they all so fearful of losing office or maybe being killed?

      • Keith
        Keith
        August 20, 2014, 11:15 am

        LYSIAS- “Here in America, the legal power remains with the politicians in the executive and legislative branches, not with the fat cats.”

        Money is power, economic power in fluid form, the primary instrument of social control. This is a business run society to an extraordinary degree. The short answer is that politicians are carefully vetted to insure that they conform to business/imperial objectives. Any odd man out who gets out of line and opposes the corporate agenda will be stomped. Things are so bad that Congress does not have access to the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations which are kept secret except for a few members who had to agree not to either copy or reveal the details. It is only because of Wikileaks that any details have emerged. A revealing quote for you:

        “You mean to tell me that the success of the program and my reelection hinges on the Federal Reserve and a bunch of fucking bond traders?” (Pres. Bill Clinton)

      • michelle
        michelle
        August 20, 2014, 2:33 pm

        .
        it pays $ well to be an Israeli sock puppet
        but the cost is ‘you’ in total
        Israel will know all your personal secrets
        (be careful who you fall in love with)
        http://www.nndb.com/people/873/000040753/
        step out of line in any way and the world will
        see your ‘bedsheets’ hanging from your windows
        .
        G-d Bless
        .

  6. David Doppler
    David Doppler
    August 19, 2014, 11:48 am

    Also, consider the Democratic strongholds that aren’t locally dominated by AIPAC-driven donors. If someone in such a district gave a speech showing the kind of moral outrage that the Irish liberal MP Norris did (linked on MW a few days ago: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/08/rightwing-unscrupulously-holocaust.html), I would think an opponent channeling “AIPAC revenge funding” from elsewhere could find his sources of funding, and any groveling (as Christie did to Adelson), or hasbara recitations turned back on him. It will take “AIPAC liability” as an actual deciding negative to break the mental chains binding most of our spineless representatives. But I think Netanyahu and the Neocons through their heavy-handed over-reaching have teed it up for the right person.

    Hell, Obama could give the speech himself and destroy the Likudniks and Neocons, if he would just screw his courage to the sticking post and do it. That would be as close to Lincoln as he could ever come. But then Lincoln legend included his being someone who could handle himself in a fight, picking his opponent up by the lapels and shaking him angrily while declaring, “you don’t fight fair!”

  7. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    August 19, 2014, 4:08 pm

    RE: “Sean wrote back and completely ducked her ask.” ~ Phil Weiss and Joan Turner

    MY COMMENT: I hate to break this to you, but “Sean” did not write back. Some $22,000/year déclassé/flunkie (18-25 y.o.) in Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s congressional office (read a letter, I assume, from Dr. Turner to “his/her Member” of Congress, and in reply) sent what is referred to as a “bed bug letter”* by entering a few bits of info into the 1980s-era word processing program. It is printed/typed on an endless run of the “Member’s” stationary (incredibly over-priced ecru-colored computer paper) processor and signed using the Member’s “autopen”.

    Personally, I do not even open these letters for fear of it making me a masochist. In any case, I don’t believe in wasting perfectly good sadism on my worthless self. Therefore, I scrawl “Addressee refused delivery” on the envelope, and put it back in the mail.

    * “Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

    Dear [constituent’s title] [constituent’s last name],

    Thank you for contacting me about our nation’s [enter subject code # 1-176]. As your representative in Congress, I appreciate hearing your thoughts on the issues most important to my neighbors in the Hudson Valley.

    SUBJECT CODE #37 “FOREIGN POLICY”
    Our foreign policy must always reflect our national security priorities and our American values like freedom and democracy.
    FOR SUBJECT CODE #37,I- “FOREIGN POLICY, ISRAEL NEGATIVE”
    Key to this strategy is supporting our ally Israel, which is essential for security in the Middle East.
    FOR SUBJECT CODE #37,I-,ME “FOREIGN POLICY, ISRAEL NEGATIVE, 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.
    SUBJECT CODE #37,I,-,ME,BH “FOREIGN POLICY, ISRAEL NEGATIVE, MIDDLE EAST, BLEEDING HEART”
    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.

  8. Keith
    Keith
    August 19, 2014, 4:44 pm

    PHIL- “…Sean as everyone calls him once worked for Bill Clinton and is socially progressive.”

    Progressive? Because he married a guy and RHETORICALLY supports women’s rights? I say rhetorically because Clinton’s “welfare reform” screwed poorer women. Working for Clinton is a sign of being anti-progressive, unless you think that neoliberal globalization, NAFTA, the massive increase in the prison population, etc, has been a boon for the 99%. Talk is cheap, Phil. Time to acknowledge that effective liberalism is dead in the USA. There are no more crumbs for the liberals to negotiate over. All of your so-called liberals are now solidly lined up with the fat cats camouflaged by their phony vocabulary and faded memories. In fact, one could argue that liberalism and imperialism are joined at the hip as any honest review of the foreign policy of “liberal” administrations would quickly indicate. Also, time to deal with Obama as he really is, not as you wish him to be.

  9. Pixel
    Pixel
    August 19, 2014, 4:57 pm

    .

    Rep. Patrick Maloney
    Washington, DC Office
    1529 Longworth House Office Building
    Washington, DC 20515

    Hours: M-F 9-6:00 pm

    Phone: 202-225-5441
    Fax: 202-225-3289
    Email: Rep. Patrick Maloney Webform

  10. michelle
    michelle
    August 20, 2014, 8:54 pm

    .
    prob. old news but this program is truly interesting
    http://search.aol.com/aol/search?s_it=topsearchbox.search&v_t=client96-newtab&q=pbs+a+world+not+ours
    .
    can’t these people ‘marry’ their way out of these prisons
    or be ‘adopted’ by people from different countries
    duel citizenship could open the door to the world
    .
    they don’t belong in prison they can’t be free where they belong
    if they were duel at least they would belong/be welcome somewhere
    somewhere healthy where they could grow along with the rest of the world
    .
    “someday the old will die and the young will forget” bah
    the world will never forget!!!! shame on Israel shame
    .
    G-d Bless
    .

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