Dear Congressman Lieu:
Thank you for meeting with seven members of Jewish Voice for Peace on Thursday July 30th. You were gracious, warm and respectful of our alarm over the possibility that our Congress would actually scuttle a document in which both Iran and the United States agreed to move toward friendship instead of warring enemies. We left feeling happy that you and our little delegation were on the same page.
Imagine our surprise when the next day we saw your press release announcing that you had accepted an offer to visit Israel. Israel?! The nation most vehemently opposed to the peace agreement! The next day!? Was it something we said? Or did you know in advance that you, the only congress person from Los Angeles, would accept that divisive invitation?
I believe you did know.
You say you were invited. By whom may we ask? Is it AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) which is paying for this glorious week? AIPAC is the Koch brothers of the Jewish right wing. It is the Dick Cheney, the Rumsfeld, the Mitch McConnell, the Tom Cotton of the hysterical segment of American Jewry. Since AIPAC and its clones, by their own admission, is determined to wipe Iran off the face of the earth, if this peace deal is voted down AIPAC may very well succeed. It’s no secret that AIPAC’s members contribute mega-millions to political candidates. It is certainly no secret that AIPAC considers the candidates who win those campaigns bought and owned.
I never thought of you as one of them.
I almost forgave you for hiring as your Legislative Director Andrew Lachman, a former President of Democrats for Israel and a relentless mouthpiece for AIPAC. Is he the one who arranged this inappropriate trip?
Israel’s right wing leadership survives just as our right wing does by fueling the paranoia of its people. They endlessly repeat the language that keeps fear alive. The terrorists are coming! If we don’t get them first they are going to nuke us! You know the drill. In our own country with a population that basically wants peace, the people elected the right wing government with which we are now stuck.
The same is true of Israel. Its people long for peace. They don’t want again to see their children slaughtered, their houses burned to the ground, their neighborhoods turned to rubble. They don’t want to spend years fleeing from grotesque oppression. Jews have been there, done that. For Israelis the thought of having a country of their own would give them a safe haven. Peace, they thought, was what Israel was created for. I was in Israel in 1953 and you could feel the enthusiasm for a free society, for a constructive future, for peace. An end to violence was the dream.
But the Israeli Right had other plans. Those other plans are what Israel and the entire region is stuck with.
Despite the fact that a large segment of its population long to move beyond it, Netanyahu, Lieberman and the Likud Party wont budge. They squelched Israel’s chance at a genuine democracy years ago. They lied, expanded the settlements, destroyed Palestinian homes, fanned the flames of fear and paranoia, just as the right wing does here. That’s how they stay in power. Even so Netanyahu won the recent election by only a hair. The world has had it with Netanyahu. There is, however, one group he can count on. The American Congress. How ironic can it get!
I have known you for many years, Congressman Lieu. The thought that you would vote against this chance for peace vs. certain war is appalling to me. I so regret that you did not see fit to open our meeting last Thursday with the fact that you were going to Israel. If I had known, I would have mentioned it at once. I would have asked if this trip means you have made your decision, and our visit is superfluous. We progressives constantly insist on transparency. We are right. Honesty, truth, transparency …call it what you will…is the core of democracy.
Where was your transparency?
Speaking as a Jew, I share the pain of my fellow Jews watching toxic groups like AIPAC and war hawks like Netanyahu corrupt our legacy. We are a small group….13 million worldwide. The overwhelming majority believes passionately in peace. In fact, the Jewish Journal recently polled Jewish Americans on the Iran deal, 48% were for it, only 28% against.
We work tirelessly for equality. We are everywhere to end racism, injustice. We are and always have been our brother’s keeper. Jesus Christ, a Jew, said it first. No one was more passionate about peace and compassion than he.
Bottom line. How are you going to vote? Are you going to let yourself be bought by AIPAC, or are you going to let them know that this trip doesn’t mean you’re rolling over. We await your response.
Have a nice trip.