By Richard Edmondson
Tulsi Gabbard, the US congresswoman from Hawaii who introduced the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” earlier this year, has been winning a lot of accolades (including on this blog) for her opposition to the war in Syria and US efforts to overthrow the country’s president, Bashar Assad. But of course in America, the real measuring stick of any politician, the litmus test if you will, is where they stand on Israel.
Last month I put up a post entitled Blessed Are the Peacemakers that included a video of a Gabbard town hall meeting in her home state as well as a commentary on the situation in Syria. The writer of the commentary, Yvonne Lorenzo, praised Gabbard for publicly condemning Trump’s April 6 missile attack on Syria, an attack which killed at least 14 people. But in response to the article, one of our readers, Robert Stiver, posted a comment about Gabbard’s position, or perhaps more precisely lack of a position, on the ongoing crimes being committed by Israel against the Palestinian people.
Robert lives in Hawaii and says he has contacted Gabbard’s office on a number of occasions–partly to express his support for the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, but also to discuss the Palestine-Israel conflict. With regard to his concerns over the latter, however, the congresswoman has failed to respond in any kind of meaningful manner, he says.
His comment led me to consider reaching out to Gabbard myself. And so I did. Here is the email I sent. You can click on the image to expand it.
I sent the above email to Gabbard on April 20–just over a month ago. I have yet to receive a response.
Ending US aid to Israel might not completely solve the problem in Occupied Palestine, but it would go a long way. There are presently more than 120 Israeli settlements (and countless other “outposts”) on occupied Palestinian land. No logical justification can be mounted for maintaining a program of sending billions of US tax dollars a year to support the Zionist state while these settlements continue to exist. They are all illegal. They have actually been formally declared illegal by the UN Security Council–in a resolution that was adopted in December of last year and that was not vetoed by the Obama administration.
So the justification for ending US aid is there–morally and now, with the passage of the Security Council resolution, even legally–and Gabbard should grab it. But she isn’t. In fact, she is doing almost exactly the opposite.
Not long after Robert posted his comment, another one of our readers, Rene, also posted a comment on Gabbard. In Rene’s view, the House member from Hawaii is not a “peacemaker,” but rather “just another ‘controlled opposition’ member” whose job is to confuse an already confused public. To support this thesis, Rene included a number of links, including to the video below in which Gabbard can be seen speaking at a 2016 event sponsored by the World Values Network. The mission of the World Values Network, according to its website, is “to disseminate universal Jewish values in politics, culture, and media, making the Jewish people a light unto the nations.”
In her comments, Gabbard talks about wanting to “stand strong with our ally and partner, Israel,” and then in the same sentence goes on to say she opposes “oppression, persecution, and genocide.” Voicing support for Israel while claiming to have humanitarian concerns of this nature is a shameful and disgraceful display of hypocrisy. As I have pointed out in previous posts, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians probably meets the legal definition of genocide.
On January 5 of this year, the US House of Representatives, by way of response to the Security Council’s declaration of the settlements as illegal, passed House Res. 11 condemning the vote and accusing the UN of being “one-sided and anti-Israel.” Gabbard voted against that measure. However, she has supported an alternate bill, House Res. 23, and even signed on to it as a co-sponsor.
H.R. 23–you can go here to read the text of it–lauds the US-Israel “special relationship” and asserts that the US “remains unwavering” in its commitment to stand by the Zionist state as it meets its “myriad challenges.” These include terrorism as well as “civil conflict in neighboring states and the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.” The measure also talks about “shared values of democracy and the rule of law” that supposedly are enjoyed by peoples of the two countries forming the “special relationship,” which leads us to ask: what exactly are these Washington politicians talking about? What commitment to “democracy and the rule of law” can Israel be said to be pursuing when it imposes a blockade/occupation upon some 4.5 million people–people who have no right to vote in Israeli elections? The blockade of Gaza has been going on for 10 years and the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem enters its 50th year this year. With no end in sight. And this is what they refer to as “democracy and the rule of law”?
When Gabbard and the other Congress members who support H.R. 23 talk about “shared values,” are they trying to imply that Americans support apartheid? That we condone bulldozing people’s homes as a form of punishment? H.R. 23 also criticizes the “delegitimization” of Israel. Are these people living on another planet? The answer to that in a way may be yes. For that in a sense is what life in Israeli-occupied Washington is: it’s like living on another planet–in which all the lies of the mainstream media are believed, those who try to tell the truth are labeled as purveyors of fake news, and where boycotting Israel is “anti-Semitic.” Whenever you set foot on this planet you mind becomes automatically enslaved. Gabbard doesn’t seem to be immune from this process.
You can also go here to read about Gabbard’s alleged ties to Bharatiya Janata, or the BJP, the Hindu nationalist party of India. I don’t know enough about the politics of the BJP to comment one way or the other on it, but the article is at least worth reading, and it does discuss Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a BJP member, who has long been said to be intent on forging a closer bond with Israel (maybe he’s jealous of the “special relationship”). The writer also discusses the Hawaii congresswoman’s reputed ties to casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson–something that is also mentioned as well in a second article here. About all I can say to any of this is to repeat what my mother told me when I was growing up: you are known by the company you keep.
A bit more about the World Values Network (WVN) in closing. Each year the group sponsors a “Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala.” The video above shows Gabbard speaking at last year’s event. An article about that event can be found here. The article is written by Shmuley Boteach, the so-called “America’s rabbi” who has authored numerous books and is a familiar face on American television. Boteach seems to be affiliated with the WVN in some manner, at least he is featured prominently on the group’s website. At any rate, his article is devoted to giving a full report on last year’s awards gala, offering a summation of remarks made by the different speakers, including Gabbard’s. The congresswoman is spoken of highly, including her service in the US military. Interestingly, it seems Sheldon Adelson was also present at the event. Boteach refers to it overall as an “unforgettable evening” attended by “a who’s who of Jewish philanthropists and defenders of Israel.”
That was last year–the “4th Annual Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala.” This year’s event–the 5th Annual Gala–is scheduled to take place tonight, May 21, in New York. I could not ascertain whether Gabbard is returning as a speaker this year, but perhaps not surprisingly Boteach has a new article up. The piece, posted Friday at The Hill, seems to have a two-fold purpose: plugging the event and demonizing Syrian President Bashar Assad at the same time (perhaps the author is hoping to achieve a synergistic effect). At any rate, Boteach seems fixated upon the latest propaganda stew over a “crematorium” supposedly being operated by the Syrian government.
“If the phrase ‘Never again’ is to have any meaning, the United States, Israel, or some other power that stands for morality and against the evils of genocide, must immediately bomb the Syrian crematoria,” he writes.
This is quite ironic given that it seems to be at cross purposes with everything Gabbard was trying to accomplish with her “Stop Arming Terrorists” bill. Which kind of brings us in a roundabout way back to the subject of the litmus test. How is the congresswoman stacking up? The answer seems to be not too well.