Gaza: 20 Hours a Day without Power: And US Congress Poised to Make Protesting This a Felony

20 years in prison, $250,000 fine for boycotting Israel in protest of policies that are decimating Gaza and subjecting 2 million residents to hell on earth. No matter how you feel about the Palestinian conflict, banning protest in any form is a very slippery slope. What is next? A felony for boycotting mega banks for their investments in fossil fuel pipelines?

Rank Choice Voting in Santa Fe. Make it Happen. Before our report on Palestine, I want to remind our readers to ramp up their contacts with the Santa Fe City Councilors about Ranked Choice Voting and the vote to be taken on Wednesday July 26 at 7pm. Click here for more info on RCV, speaking points and contact information for your Councilors. This is how we retake our democracy. I would also suggest you reach out to 3-4 friends and encourage them to raise their voices. Simply the link above and paste it into a short email to these friends and ask them to raise their voice. Your voice becomes 4 or 5 voices, Santa Fe gets RCV and our representatives realize we are paying attention. I will report on Sunday on the important work being done by three groups of Santa Fe activists who are working locally and at a state level to Retake Our Democracy.

A Humanitarian Catastrophe & US Pending Legislation that Is A Very Slippery Slope

“Israeli-imposed restrictions have limited electricity in Gaza to barely four hours a day, creating a humanitarian catastrophe for its 2 million residents. In 2012, the World Health Organization warned that Gaza would be uninhabitable by 2020. The U.N. now says the area has already become unlivable, with living conditions in Gaza deteriorating faster than expected. To explore this issue more deeply Amy Goodman (Democracy Now) spoke with Raji Sourani, an award-winning human rights lawyer and director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza. We also speak with Tareq Baconi, author of the forthcoming book, “Hamas Contained: The Rise & Pacification of Palestinian Resistance.” He is a policy fellow at Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network. Click here for the full Democracy Now report. The 22 minute video of the interview is provided below.

I lived in Israel for about 18 months, for 9 months right between the West Bank and Gaza. I understand that there are real challenges to a solution to this conflict. But what is going on in Palestine is a human catastrophe that has no endgame anyone wants, pure and simple. Just imagine having but 4 hours a day of electricity, living in sweltering heat, and with no way to keep food stored safely– not because of an outage that will end soon, but because of public policy with no end in sight. Now imagine you are 12 or 13 years old. What kind of world view are you developing in this context?

There are many international issues that are difficult to resolve and certainly Palestine is one. But there are also policies and approaches that are simply NEVER going to achieve anything like a positive outcome to a conflict or crisis. The current power limits in Gaza seems unlikely to create trust and cooperation, a necessary precondition for achieving a meaningful, sustainable agreement to end the conflict. The policy seems far more likely to be breeding future terrorists who, robbed of hope, see no other way to raise their voice, than through violence. As a major ally to Israel and a major funder of that country, Americans have a vested interest in achieving a just peace and if our US Congress has its way, it will become a felony to use a boycott to protest Israel’s policies. Even those individuals who don’t care about Israel, do you realize what a slippery slope this is? What is next? No boycotts of banks funding fossil fuel pipelines? No boycotts of Amazon? No boycotts of Ivanka Trump lines? You must buy from Amazon? You must buy Invanka Trump products?  When we discuss the clear unravelling of our democratic processes and our constitutional rights, banning any form of peaceful protest seems a very, very red flag.  And yet….

From The Intercept: “A group of 43 senators — 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats (including Sen. Leader Chuck Schumer, NY and several of the Senate’s more liberal members, such as Ron Wyden of Oregon, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Maria Cantwell of Washington) — are co-sponsors of a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country’s decades-old occupation of Palestine. The two primary sponsors of the bill (S-720) are Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio. Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the punishment: Anyone guilty of violating the prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison” A similar measure (HR 1619) has been introduced in the House with over 234 sponsors already.”  Click here for the full Intercept report.  

What to do? None of our five Congressional representatives are sponsors (not even Pearce), but with Chuck Shumer using his influence, we can’t be sure. I recommend contacting both members of our New Mexico delegation and asking them not only not to sign on, but to advocate within the party to withdraw support for this bill. For contact information for all five NM Congressional representatives, click here.

 

 

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