Israeli-Occupied Territory on Capitol Hill
A year ago I heard a Palestinian diplomat describe Capitol Hill as "Israeli-occupied territory" in a speech given at Georgetown University. It was a rhetorical quip intended for a quick laugh, but I couldn't help but remember this phrase last week. On Friday, January 9, the House of Representatives passed a resolution that "calls on all nations to lay blame both for the breaking of the 'calm' and for subsequent civilian casualties in Gaza precisely where blame belongs, that is, on Hamas." Conversely, the resolution praised Israel for the facilitation of humanitarian aid to Gaza. The resolution passed 390-5 (22 voted Present). The Senate agreed unanimously on a similar motion the day before.
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Americans for Peace Now put forward a statement saying they were encouraged by the inclusion of several "positive, constructive elements" in the resolutions, such as a reference to the humanitarian crisis. These elements, APN notes, would not have been inserted in previous years. Any step in the direction of unqualified support for a lasting peace is worth celebrating, but Congress still has a long way to go in this regard.
For the most part, the House resolution supports the view that the current conflict is a justified Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip against an evil Hamas. This sentiment is difficult to criticize, as Hamas does deserve much of the blame for this disaster. With its rocket attacks and use of human shields, Hamas is acting without regard to the lives of the innocent on either side.
But the language of the House resolution ignores the nuances and layered history of the conflict. It ignores the fact that 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza