Palestine: As I’m sure you’ve seen, the bombing has resumed in Gaza as we unfortunately knew it would. We need a lasting ceasefire, not just pauses, as helpful as they can be in mitigating the pain. Cruelly, the resumed bombing is now especially strong in southern Gaza where the Israeli government had asked Gazans to flee. There is no safe place for civilians in Gaza. 

As the violence resumes in Gaza, the Senate is set to vote on a $14 Billion package in more weapons for Israel – paid for by you and me. Sadly, there is not much debate about whether or not to pass the funding. But there IS a major debate brewing over whether or not to put conditions on what weapons can be sent and how they can be used. 

Let’s be clear, any “aid” sent makes the United States complicit in violations of human rights that some rights experts say amount to crimes against humanity and potentially ethnic cleansing.

But I’m going to be honest with you about the politics: this bill is likely to pass overwhelmingly. That’s why we are also pushing to make sure Israel doesn’t get a blank check and that Senators put some tough strings on this aid that would ban certain indiscriminate weapons from being sent and constrain how the aid is used. 

This is critical because some of the weapons the U.S. provides Israel create horrible human suffering. You may already be familiar with the human toll of weapons like white phosphorus incendiary munitions to cluster bombs and artillery shells. All these are known to and have been causing the disproportionate harm to civilians we’ve been witnessing. 

Here’s what I’m asking you to do right now:

1. Call the Congressional switchboard at 1-202-224-3121
2. Ask to be connected to one of your Senator’s offices. (Afterwards, you can repeat for your other Senator). 
3. Once connected, say:

“Hello, my name is (your name) and I am a voting constituent from (city). I am calling today about the supplemental spending bill for military aid to Israel. I am concerned about the widespread deaths of civilians caused by Israel’s indiscriminate attacks occurring in Gaza. I support a lasting bilateral ceasefire. 

Because Israel’s response to Hamas’s October 7 attack has resulted in the killing of thousands of innocent children and other civilians, I oppose additional military aid to Israel at this time. I urge the Senator to vote no on this funding. At the same time, I urge the Senator to help lead efforts to condition any aid to Israel and offer or support amendments that would protect civilian lives. This includes supporting amendments that would ban the transfer of inherently indiscriminate weapons like cluster bombs, artillery shells, and white phosphorus incendiary weapons. I urge my Senator to also support transparency and Congressional oversight and language that explicitly prohibits the aid from being used in human rights violations including settler violence in the West Bank and forced displacement of Palestinians.” 

There is a huge debate in the Senate right now over conditioning aid. That’s why it will be so powerful if you and other peace supporters weigh in right now. 

On one side of the debate are Senators like Bernie Sanders and Chris Murphy, who are both influential voices of foreign policy pushing for conditions. On the other side are Senators like Benjamin Cardin, who is even more influential as the new chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Cardin recently, quite offensively in my opinion, said “We don’t condition aid on an ally, and we’re not going to try to micromanage their defense”.[1] Only a big outcry from constituents can move the needle on this. Please call today. 

I know what some of you are thinking. “Don’t we need to simply end the war, and end U.S. support for this war?” Yes, we do. And that call is right up front in the suggested language for you to use with the Senators above. Many of us are protesting in Senate offices and taking other action to push that message. But there will be a vote next week on this bill. And if we have a chance to put tough strings on this aid, if we can block some of the most egregious weapons, we need to do so. To fail to seize that opportunity will only add to the tragedy of more innocent Palestinian lives lost

Conditioning the aid can also put pressure on the Israelis and shine a light on how U.S. weapons are used while moving the United States a step in the direction of upholding the ideal of supporting human rights. It sets a precedent for our longer-term campaign to end the occupation once and for all. The consistent  “blank checks” of U.S. support underpin Israeli impunity when it comes to not only these attacks on Gaza but with the occupation and oppression of Palestinians. Moving from “blank checks” to “strings attached” would be crucial in both the short and long term to build political support for greater Israeli accountability. 

Can you make the call today? 

Via - Peace Action