Congress must act now on Gaza: International investigation needed

To suggest for a moment that the Israeli government, the perpetrator of the crime, be responsible for its own investigation is simply unacceptable. I join with the UN Security Council in calling for an impartial investigation that explores the circumstances of the Israeli attack carried out in the darkness of night, in international waters, with Israelis reportedly repelling from helicopters hurling grenades, shooting, then landing on deck to spray tear gas and gun down activists fighting for their lives with sticks and deck chairs. Hanin Zoabi, a member of the Israeli parliament on board the flotilla, reported the Israeli navy fired on the ships before commandos descended.

As a Jewish woman of conscience, as a congressional candidate, I say, "Not in my name. Not in the name of my country shall this war on human rights be waged." It is time for congress members, living in political fear of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), to wake up, rip off their muzzles, act in the best interests of our country, and to say once and for all we cannot support state-sponsored terrorism because not only is it inhumane but also a threat to international security.

Israel's actions — shooting at unarmed civilians, more fundamentally blockading Gaza — have triggered global outrage with demonstrations throughout Europe and the United States, where in Los Angeles Palestinians and Jews joined hands in front of the Israeli consulate to affirm the urgency of peace negotiations. To be aligned with the oppressor puts the United States in an indefensible position, tarnishing our reputation worldwide. No military base is worth making the United States a target of global wrath.

At minimum, the United States provides Israel three billion dollars a year in aid. It is one thing to offer aid to Holocaust survivors in Israel, a third of whom reportedly struggle in poverty, quite another to subsidize the blockade of Gaza with U.S. tax dollars.

I had been asked to join the Free Gaza flotilla, as friends — Paul Larudee and former military colonel Ann Wright — who courageously resigned her post to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq — wanted me to sail the high seas with them. Had I not been in the middle of a congressional campaign, challenging Jane Harman — a hostess of AIPAC dinners in her home in Venice — I might have gone because the mission is a noble one, not only in its immediate goal of providing humanitarian aid but in its larger objective of ending the Gaza blockade. Unable to join them, I sent a t-shirt instead to be worn on the flotilla. I am proud of my symbolic support for their courageous efforts.

Now it is time for Congress to summon its courage and demand an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.