I am running for Congress to be a voice for the voiceless. I want to put those who are most neglected and oppressed first. Many people around the world would fit this definition, yet perhaps none are more directly and deliberately so, as a result of our government’s policies, than the people of Palestine. As a candidate for Congress I am compelled by a deep sense of ethical responsibility to speak on their behalf, since they cannot be heard here themselves. Congressman Peter Welch and his colleagues in Washington should be asked why they don’t feel the same way.
The latest massacre against Palestinians by the state of Israel is underwritten by the United States government and is being sold to us by a biased capitalist media. Millions are beginning to understand the true nature of the conflict and are demanding that US policies change. Unfortunately, Democrats and Republicans alike, including in Vermont, have been stubbornly resistant to a peace policy. Palestinians are paying with their lives.
Gaza and the West Bank are the two major Palestinian territories separated by Israel. They are denied statehood due to the immense international influence of the US, and an illegal Israeli blockade that prevents the movement of people and goods. Despite elections, Israel tries to impose who can represent Palestinians by punishing Palestinians for the election of Hamas and refusing to negotiate with them. Taxes in Palestine are collected by Israel, and withheld as punishment. Israel subsidizes settlements that continue to expand into Palestinian land. Farmers and fisherpeople risk being shot at by Israeli soldiers as they work. Checkpoints make getting the sick to hospitals and regular commerce impossible. Israeli soldiers raid Palestinian homes and imprison thousands of Palestinians who struggle to defend their homes. What remains of Palestine today is effectively the world’s largest open air prison. This is the backdrop of the conflict and the type of “peace” Israel seeks to maintain.
The latest round of violence began when three Israeli youths disappeared. Reports now show that Israel knew these youth were killed soon after their abduction. Israel withheld this information to justify a brutal assault on Palestine under the pretext that they were searching for these missing youths. There has not yet been any evidence about who committed the crime or whether there was any political motive, yet Netanyahu blamed Hamas. This cynical manipulation of facts was a pretext to assault Palestinians and smash the unity government between Hamas and Fatah.
Israel is using state-of-the-art military technology to destroy civilian infrastructure in Gaza, including a center for the disabled, where two were killed. In total, more than 800 have been injured and nearly 200 have been kill so far. Thousands are fleeing their homes. Meanwhile, Hamas has responded with rockets that were only able to kill a single Israeli after more than a week of conflict. The death and destruction is almost completely one-sided but the US media prefers to portray the conflict as balanced. Any meaningful understanding of the conflict would undermine Israel’s absurd claims to self-defense.
While we cannot impose a solution from the United States, we can take crucial steps to stop blocking the path to peace. Israel currently receives $3 billion annually in US military aid. The complete opposite is necessary. The Palestinian Authority is pleading for the UN to protect Gaza. The US is the only major power that stands in the way. We should be leading the international community to agree on a comprehensive arms embargo against Israel. Israel should be investigated for war crimes and subject to the same standards as the rest of the world. Furthermore, civil society should join the BDS campaign to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel until it ends the blockade against Palestine and negotiates a durable peace in good faith.
Vermont’s representatives in Washington are shamefully silent in the face of the long suffering of the Palestinian people. This ongoing slaughter does not move them, despite being members of Congress, which plays a critical role as an accomplice to the crime. Vermont deserves better leadership than this. By organizing and voting for the Liberty Union Party, Vermont can lead an antiwar movement for peace and freedom in Palestine. We must demonstrate in the streets and educate each other about the conflict. But we must also show those in power that we will challenge them at the ballot box if they do not listen to us as we stand with the neglected and oppressed.
More information about the Liberty Union Party and its candidates can be found at www.libertyunionparty.org. Matthew Andrews can be reached at 802-858-6466 or firstname.lastname@example.org.