November XX, 2015
His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian National Authority
His Excellency Benyamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Israel
Dear President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu:
We write in anguish and grief at the latest outbreak of deadly violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank. We appreciate your willingness to engage with Secretary Kerry and King Abdullah and hope you will build on that dialogue by doing everything in your power to avoid language and actions that increase fear, hatred, and violence. This moment calls on all of us to take actions that promote peace.
This violence is a familiar symptom of the underlying problem: the lack of a political solution that creates two states for two peoples, living side-by-side in peace and security. We know from experience in the region that when leaders make a commitment to the peace process, violence decreases.
Securing a lasting peace requires a commitment to humanizing the Israeli and Palestinian experience. Divisive rhetoric dehumanizes people and undermines the prospect of a two-state solution and long term peace.
We are committed to making this same plea to our colleagues in Congress. Members of the United States House of Representatives – and the American people -- have wanted peace and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians for decades. In order to be an effective voice for peace, we should pursue an approach the urges both sides to live up to their obligations under the Oslo Accords.
Congressional Republicans who are trying to blow up U.S.-European diplomacy with Iran would desperately like Americans to believe that they have some alternative besides war to the administration's multilateral efforts to reach a diplomatic agreement with Iran.
Latest Update: March 3 12:30 AM
If your rep is undeclared or on the fence, give them a call at 1-202-224-3121. When you reach a staffer, you can say something like:
I urge Rep./Sen. ___________ to join 60 other Democrats in skipping Netanyahu's March 3 speech. Please stand with Democrats who support President Obama's Iran diplomacy, not with Republicans who want to tear President Obama down.
Find out where your reps stand below.
Skipping (61—Includes 1 Republican)
Bass, Karen (CA-37) — “My support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship has been consistent during my entire time in elected office, and that support will only continue in the years to come. Support for Israel has traditionally been a non-partisan issue, and I want it to remain so,” she said. "Unfortunately, Speaker Boehner mishandled inviting Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech is now marred with controversy. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been provided with other options to talk with members of Congress, but he has turned them down to do the public speech. It is truly sad that Speaker Boehner and Prime Minister Netanyahu have chosen to play partisan and divisive politics.”
Blumenauer, Earl (OR-03): Wrote a Jan. 29 column in The Huffington Post explaining his decision, saying the Constitution “vests the responsibility for foreign affairs in the president.”
Brown, Corrine (FL-05)
Butterfield, G.K. (NC-01): The head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) focused on Boehner undermining Obama in a statement and emphasized he's not urging a boycott.
Capps, Lois (CA-24)
Carson, Andre (IN-07)
Castro, Joaquin (TX-20)
Clark, Katherine (MA-05): http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/02/massachusetts_democra...
Clay, William Lacy (MO-01)
A recent CNN poll found that four out of five Democratic voters oppose the Israeli Prime Minister's planned March 3 tirade to Congress against diplomacy. Thursday morning, twenty-three House Democrats did something about it.
When the 1% were plotting to overthrow the Roman republic, the great democratic orator Cicero gave a series of speeches in the Roman Senate, exposing the conspiracy. These speeches came to be known as the "Catilinarians" or the "Catiline Orations," after the principal target of the speeches, Lucius Sergius Catilina. For two thousand years, these speeches have been pored over by students of Latin and rhetoric as a canonical example of Roman oratory.
We have a historic opportunity right now to help change the game in Washington on U.S. policy towards Israel.
Controversy is spreading around Speaker Boehner’s decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on March 3, where Netanyahu is expected to trash Obama’s Iran diplomacy and try to persuade Congress to pass new sanctions. J Street, Americans for Peace Now, and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren have called for Netanyahu’s talk to be postponed. Netanyahu’s political opposition in Israel is also denouncing his plan to speak to Congress only weeks before the Israeli election.
Now, Reps. Keith Ellison, Steve Cohen, and Maxine Waters are circulating a letter to Speaker Boehner, asking him to postpone the invitation until after Congress has considered the issue of Iran sanctions.
Call your Rep NOW at 1-202-224-3121. When you reach a staffer, you can say something like:
I urge you to sign the Ellison letter calling on Speaker Boehner to postpone the Israeli Prime Minister’s address to Congress until after Congress has concluded its consideration of new Iran sanctions.
UPDATE: The Ellison letter is now closed. The sample script now calls to skip the speech:
I urge Rep. ___________ to join Steve Cohen, Jan Schakowsky, and 30 other Democrats in skipping Netanyahu's March 3 speech. Please stand with Democrats who support President Obama's Iran diplomacy, not with Republicans who want to tear President Obama down.
Report your call below.
Before we have a war with Iran, shouldn't the Senate and the House have at least one debate and vote on it? Isn't that what the Constitution demands? Isn't that what is demanded by the War Powers Resolution (which, despite its name, is binding law)?
If you agree to the principle that Congress should debate and vote on a war with Iran before any such war takes place (which also happens to be the Constitution and the law), when do you think a good time would be for the Senate and the House to start taking up the question? Should we wait until after there is further escalation? Should we wait until after some real or invented Persian Gulf of Tonkin incident, when Members of Congress can be steamrolled by cable news and right-wing talk radio? Or should we start having the debate now, when rational argument still has a chance, so that Members of Congress will be forced to choose sides between American generals, who oppose war with Iran, and the Israeli Prime Minister, who wants war with Iran?
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul thinks we should have the debate right now.
On Tuesday, Sen. Paul took to the Senate floor to oppose unanimous consent of a new Iran sanctions bill so he could introduce an amendment that would ensure that nothing in the act shall be construed as a declaration of war or an authorization of the use of force against Iran or Syria, and affirm that any use of military force must be authorized by Congress.
A funny thing happened on the way to the Showdown at the AIPAC Corral, where pro-war Republicans and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been planning to ambush President Obama with charges of being "soft on Iran" because U.S. military commanders have said that an Israeli military attack on Iran would be a very bad idea.
Someone asked the Israeli public what they thought.
And it turns out that the majority of Israelis have their shekels on the lanky guy from Chicago.
In a poll conducted this month by Professor Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland and Israel's Dahaf Institute, only 19 percent of Israelis said they would support an Israeli military attack on Iran if it is not approved by the U.S.
But that's not even the most striking result of the poll.
The poll suggests that the reason that the majority of Israelis don't support an Israeli military strike on Iran without U.S. approval is not because they are afraid of making the U.S. angry. The poll suggests that the reason that the majority of Israelis do not support an Israeli military strike on Iran without U.S. approval is that they share the cautions of U.S. officials against an Israeli strike on Iran: they think that the costs would be high, and the benefits small or nonexistent.
That is, they see the assessments of U.S. officials of the dubious merits of an Israeli strike as good data - better data than they are getting from Prime Minister Netanyahu.