Commentary

Concerned About ISIS, But Also About Endless War? Back Limits on the Use of Force

In response to the U.S. bombing of Islamic State ["ISIS"] fighters in Iraq and Syria, which Congress has never explicitly approved, Members of Congress long concerned about presidents and Congresses skirting the Constitutional role of Congress in deciding when the U.S. will use military force have introduced H. Con. Res. 114, "Urging Congress to debate and vote on a statutory authorization for any sustained United States combat role in Iraq or Syria."

On Israeli land grab, State Dept calls for reversal but lays out no consequences

In response to Israel's recent announcement declaring nearly 1,000 acres of land in the West Bank "state land" with the intention of expanding settlements in the Etzion bloc, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki issued the following statement:

We are deeply concerned about the declaration of a large area as 'state land' to be used for expanded settlement building. We have long made clear our opposition to continued settlement activity. We call on the Government of Israel to reverse this decision.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, Psaki was asked whether the US was planning any consequences if Israel fails to heed the US's call to reverse its decision. Here's the exchange:

QUESTION: [Y]ou said that if the appropriation in the West Bank and if these rumored or reported new announcements go ahead, it would send a very troubling message – it would send a very troubling message if they proceed.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is there any consequence to that --

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: -- if they proceed?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any consequences to lay out for you, Matt. I think it’s important for us – not just the United States but there are a range of countries in the international community that have been clear about not only their opposition but their own intentions. I’m not going to speak to those. I speak for the United States.

The issue came up again during Wednesday's press briefing:

MS. PSAKI: I think there’s no secret about our position and our view on the legitimacy of settlements.

QUESTION: No, no. But I mean specific – but specifically, do you know --

Sunset an Authorization for the Use of Force in Iraq

Judging from press reports, when Congress returns from its August recess in early September, the United States military will have been bombing "Islamic State" fighters in Iraq for a month, with a broader set of missions than originally advertised, and with plans to continue bombing for months.


The United States Constitution and the 1973 War Powers Resolution require that such a war be authorized by Congress in order to continue. We cannot accept that such major decisions about the use of our power and resources, putting U.S. soldiers at risk and shaping the perceptions of the world about us by shedding the blood of foreigners that we don't know, be made indefinitely behind closed doors by executive fiat.

Gaza Blockade Hangs Fire in Cairo: Where Is the Anti-War Left?

The greatest struggle facing the anti-war movement in the United States is the struggle to get people who come to anti-war demonstrations after a war starts to engage politically to prevent the same wars in the future. In the case of U.S. policy towards Iran, we created a political movement to support diplomacy with Iran to prevent war in the future. But in the case of Gaza, there is no political movement in the United States to support diplomacy to prevent war in the future.

Consider:

1. While Israel was bombing and invading Gaza, there were demonstrations across the United States against the war and against U.S. support for the war.

Tens of Thousands Descend on Washington to March for Gaza


Organizers estimated 50,000 protesters marched on Washington to demand an end to US support of Israel's operation in Gaza on August 2, 2014.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of demonstrators from across the country descended on Washington, DC, to call for an end to US support for Israel's latest military operation in Gaza. The demonstration included a march to the Washington Post and Caterpillar headquarters, where protesters delivered mock coffins to symbolize the over 1,600 Palestinians, mostly civilians, killed in Israel's onslaught. The march began and ended at the White House, where speakers such as Cornel West addressed the massive crowd.

At one point in the march, organizers had to reroute the procession because the front of the march was about to collide with the rear. In one section of the route, motorists were at a standstill as a dense stream of protesters passed. Organizers said that the march spanned twelve blocks—road and sidewalks included—leading to an estimate of 50,000 attendees.

The large turnout and presence of a diverse group of solidarity activists made a particular impact on some Palestinian-American demonstrators. "It gives me hope," a Palestinian-American woman from Connecticut said.

Thousands have been demonstrating in cities around the world since Israel's operation began on July 8. Palestinian solidarity protests throughout the United States have drawn record crowds demanding that the US stop its support of Israel's killing of Palestinians in Gaza. The US gives over $3 billion in taxpayer money to the Israeli government each year, and Congress recently approved $255 million in additional funding for Israel's Iron Dome.

Americans for Peace Now Backs Kerry on Gaza Ceasefire

 Americans for Peace Now Backs Kerry on Gaza Ceasefire

Robert Naiman, Daily Kos, Wednesday, July 30, 2014
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/07/30/1317767/-Americans-for-Peace-Now-Backs-Kerry-on-Gaza-Ceasefire

Protesters at “New York Stands With Israel” Press Conference Insist City Council Members "Do Not Speak for Us!"


Protesters confront Rep. Eliot Engel and others as they depart the "New York Stands With Israel" press conference at New York City Hall on Monday, July 14, 2014.

Around a hundred protesters surrounded New York City Hall during a “New York Stands With Israel” press conference Monday morning. The event, which was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and the United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York, was intended to give New York City legislators the opportunity to justify Israel’s week-long bombing campaign of Gaza. But chants of “shame on you, City Council”, “New York stands with Palestine”, and “from Brooklyn to Palestine, genocide is a crime” penetrated the press conference—and media reports of it.

“Our elected officials are using their positions as representatives of the people of New York to lend support to Israel’s abuses and violations of international law,” Adalah-NY member Mindy Gershon stated. “These officials don’t speak for us!”

“We want to let the City Council know that most of New York does not support racist genocide and apartheid by [Israel],” said Bill Dores, a member of Al-Awada Right to Return Coalition.

Union Square March & Rally Against US Support for Israeli Impunity


Protesters chant "money for health and education—not for Israel's occupation!" while marching down Broadway in Greenwich Village, NYC on Friday, July 11, 2014.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Union Square in New York City on Friday to call for Americans to end their support of Israeli impunity in Palestine. Demonstrators held a rally outside Max Brenner Chocolates—a target of boycotts for their financial support of the Israeli army's Golani Brigade, often cited for their involvement in war crimes in the occupied territories—then marched down and back up Broadway to rally again in the Square.

The US sends over $3 billion a year in taxpayer money to Israel. Many millions more in American money is invested in companies that are involved in the occupation.

Around the world, thousands continue to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people and demanding an end to Israeli aggression. Cities such as Paris, Oslo, Chicago, Jakarta, Rome and San Francisco have played host to demonstrations within the last week. In London alone, participation is said to have been around 10,000.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that "no international pressure" would stop him from continuing to strike Gaza. He also said that "there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan," thus expressing the intent to occupy Palestinian territory indefinitely.

Netanyahu's War: What Is It Good For?

Originally published at Huffington Post.

The government of Benjamin Netanyahu has launched a new war on Palestinians in Gaza, a war whose purported justifications make George W. Bush's excuses for his illegal invasion of Iraq smell nice by comparison. So far, the United States, Netanyahu's chief enabler, has been unwilling to stop the carnage, as it could easily do, because Washington hasn't yet heard enough complaint from Americans not to use their tax dollars to kill children in Gaza.

Thousands Gather for NYC Protest for Palestine

Max Blumenthal addresses the crowd gathered outside the Israeli Consulate on 42nd St & 2nd Ave in NYC on July 9, 2014.