Get a cup of coffee - this is long. I composed it on hearing of Mark Kirk(R) being elected to the U.S. Senate for Illinois. There are some local politicians and places referred to, but this message is a heartfelt address to every American.
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We have a new senator, Mark Kirk. If he is a typical senator, he is in office for life. Because of this, it is imperative that Evanstonians be aware of the great danger this presents to our country. Mr. Kirk was more heavily supported by the Israel lobby than any other candidate for either the House or the Senate. The lobby can now count on him to continue the humiliation of U.S. presidents that dare to take actions not acceptable to the Israeli government, George W. Bush and Barack Obama being only the most recent examples. In this capacity to disable the executive branch in one critical area, he joins Jan Schakowsky, an otherwise worthy U.S. Representative, who answers the call to sign letters or pass resolutions in favor of the policy of whatever Israeli administration is in power.
This capture of U.S. policy on Israel by Israel is the single greatest threat to the national security of our country because it ties us to a project of ethnic cleansing that has been underway for over 60 years and continues to this very day as the Knesset considers a bill that would allow towns in Israel to reject Israelis they don't like (that means the Palestinian Israeli minority) as residents.
Older readers will remember the disgrace of Cicero's treatment of African-Americans who wished to live there and the march of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in response to it. Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of U.S. history knows the shame of the sweeping of Native-Americans (Indians) from their lands. Such is the nature of what is happening in Israel. It is neither in the interest of the U.S. or Israel for this to continue. It has absolutely nothing to do with "liberty and justice for all" that is the foundation of our country, nor the great moral precepts that underlie Judaism, and everything to do with the odious apartheid that isolated South Africa from the community of nations not so long ago. Israel is headed for a disaster that has nothing to do with warfare.
Palestinians who dare to peacefully demonstrate against the loss of their land are routinely imprisoned without recourse to anything but Israeli military law - where you are tried by the same soldiery that imprison you - it is the law of Guantanamo applied to millions who live in the occupied territories. Have we Americans no shame, who claim to value the freedom of speech, yet mindlessly pour billions of dollars and the latest weaponry to a country that flouts what we stand for, acts unilaterally against its neighbors and deploys American weaponry on civilians with hardly a slap on the wrist? Yes, the United Nations speaks out but the United States acts immediately to gag it.
Israel pushes on to ever more extreme right-wing positions, some are now using the word fascist to describe them, thumbing its nose at world opinion because it knows the United States will reliably cover for it due to the effectiveness of the Israel lobby.
This hypocrisy by America has resulted in our own country being reviled, hated even, as our power is seen on the side of relentless oppression covered with empty talk about peace and being an "honest broker". We loudly talk of the sanctity of private property, Republicans in particular, while Palestinians are dispossessed daily. No one is fooled but the American people.
What can you as in individual citizen do to change this?
First of all, wake up to the reality of modern Israel. Read the Israeli press. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz is free, in English, online 24/7. I promise you that you will not believe the things that the Knesset is doing, not to mention the actions of the settlers who daily take more land from the Palestinians, yet claim full Israeli citizenship with all its rights and privileges among the indigenous folks who are helpless to resist. Incredibly, an American Jew can go to Israel and within one week be an Israeli citizen, taking land from a Palestinian whose people have been there for centuries. Surely I lie? No, it is a fact.
Once you begin to understand the apartheid that is progressing under cover of American political power, you may then want to support the many courageous and active Israeli Jews opposing it. Jeff Halper, Yonatan Shapira, Gideon Levy, Amira Hass, Uri Avnery and many more. Google these names! Join the efforts of the Corries who, 7 years later, are still in Israel attempting to get justice for their daughter killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003. Join local activist groups. Jewish Voice for Peace and the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions are only two of many. Start working with a Palestinian campus group. There are such at DePaul, NEIU and the U of C. Evanston's very own JRC rabbi Brant Rosen is a prominent figure in opposition to what Israel is doing. Google his name to see some of the many things he has written. Check out my own blog "Daylight between America and Israel" where, to the best of my ability, I cover all the topics mentioned and many more.
Above all, don't be deterred by those who will use the term anti-Semitic on anyone who opposes Israeli policies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Check out or buy the excellent book, "The Israel Lobby" by Mearsheimer and Walt. It will open your eyes and astound you at how pliant and readily worked is our Congress. AARP and the NRA don't hold a candle to the Israel lobby. Why? Because individuals, you and I, don't oppose it.
Once informed, get in touch with Jan Schakowsky and Mark Kirk and Richard Durban and let them know what you have found out and of your displeasure at having your national legislature in thrall to a foreign country. Don't fall for the worn out "right to protect itself" argument for a country that is armed to the teeth and oppressing the unarmed and helpless who live under its might.
Over 40 years of arming Israel with state of the art U.S. ordinance has not advanced a peaceful solution one foot, instead it has assured the relentless progress of ethnic cleansing and thousands of people have died. There is no time to waste.
Perhaps you voted for Mark Kirk without the slightest thought of Israel, but be aware of what takes place in your name - Israel and the U.S. are separate countries with separate interests. America, here at home, repudiated years ago, I'm very proud to say, the practices Israel actively pursues today. Kirk's election is an alarm bell. Will you hear it?