Public Comment

Commentary: Message for Barbara Lee: Not Another Dime for Israeli Occupation

Friday April 04, 2008

Barbara Lee said this recently in regard to Bush’s war/occupation in Iraq: 

“Congress should not approve another dime for any measure for continuing the occupation of Iraq that does not include a clear timeline for safe and timely redeployment. We have the power to end the occupation of Iraq.” 

That is why progressives around the country, and especially here in the Bay Area, respect and admire Barbara Lee. Lee’s words are, much more often than not, direct, clear, principled, and for a sane approach to policy, while most other politicians are cautious, hesitant, and likely to first gauge the political winds. Barbara Lee is right to demand the halt of all funding of the US occupation of Iraq. 

What though of U.S. support of the Israeli occupation of Palestine? This military occupation is now over forty years old, eight times longer than the direct U.S. occupation of Iraq. Isn’t it about time to end U.S. military aid to Israel? Can Barbara Lee stand up to Prime Minister Olmert, and the political lobbies that support his policies, the same way she is standing up to President Bush? 

There is much talk these days of a renewed “peace process”, but we must look carefully at what Israel is actually doing, with the full complicity of Bush and the U.S. Congress. When nearly every administration has called the Israeli settlements in occupied West Bank an “obstacle to peace” (they are more than that, they are in fact in violation of international law), Israel never seems to miss an opportunity to begin every round of talks with an announcement of their expansion. The Israeli leadership does not seem serious about peace, and only seems determined to pursue its agenda, to create facts on the ground, in brazen contempt of international law. 

Not only is Israel building illegal settlements in the West Bank, it is also busy destroying Palestinian homes. Just this last month, the US-funded Israeli military destroyed homes of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley villages of Hadidiya and surrounding area, and destroyed a farm. Yet no word from Congress about how U.S. funds were misspent, no word from Congress suggesting that we could use those same funds, used now to make the lives of Palestinians miserable and homeless, might be better used to help provide homes right here. Only, at best, some clichés are repeated supporting the “peace process.” 

Another outrage occurs later this month, when the Israeli High court considers the question of whether the Israeli military may demolish yet another Palestinian village, including a kindergarten. This village is Al Aqabah in the Jordan Valley, deep in the heart of the occupied West Bank. The survival of a West Bank village in the hands of the Israeli courts? In a government that the citizens of this village have absolutely no say in electing? Isn’t that just another name for “apartheid”? 

We must ask then, at what point will Barbara Lee make an unequivocal statement demanding that no more aid be sent to Israel while it continues to destroy homes, farms, olive trees, and even kindergartens. While it continues to build settlements that destroy the possibility of peace. Barbara Lee, to her credit, has taken steps to criticize some specific Israeli policies that violate human rights. We now need her to take the next logical step, in calling for an end to all U.S. aid for Israeli occupation. Not another Dime. 


Jim Harris is a long time resident in Barbara Lee’s congressional district, and is founder of At that website you can find a petition to Barbara Lee to end U.S. aid to Israel.