Former Congressman Paul Findley has lauded the 54 members of Congress who on January 21 sent a letter to Pres. Obama asking him to “advocate for immediate improvements for Gaza” on a number of issues related to the tight blockade that Israel has maintained against the Strip’s 1.5 million people for many years now.
The PDF of the letter is here.
Findley was hounded out of office by AIPAC and its affiliates in 1982, after serving for 22 years as a distinguished member of Illinois’s congressional delegation. He had been openly urging the administration to open relations with with the Palestine Liberation Organization– and the Lobby didn’t like that at all!
In 1985, he published the best-selling book They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby. In 1989 co-founded CNI and the CNI Foundation, with the goal of advocating for fair-minded U.S. policies in the Middle East– and explaining to Americans why only such policies can serve our true interests as a people. The CNI Foundation is the publisher of this blog.
is an extraordinary step… We haven’t seen so many members of Congress prepared to stand together behind a resolution critical of Israel since the 1970s, with one of the early amendments offered by David Obey!
However, he also warned this year’s “valiant 54” that they should expect a strong counter-attack from the pro-Israel lobby. “This is a step that the lobby for Israel will never forget,” he said.
He said he was planning to write to all 54 and express his appreciation for their courage.
He stressed, however, that– especially in an election year– all 54 of the letter’s signers need to hear very palpable signs of support from their own constituents, noting that,
My experience is that what happens in Washington is no use at all unless it is backed up by concerted efforts from the members’ own districts.
In connection with that, it’s lucky that the CNI and the other groups around the country that are members of the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation are jointly sponsoring a campaign to “cheer or jeer” all members of Congress, depending on whether they signed or didn’t sign the McDermott-Ellison letter.
Please take part! The “cheering” part is every bit as important as the “jeering”. (Or maybe, even more important.)
In the interview with FPFD, Findley said,
I’m going to urge the 54 signers of the McDermott-Ellison letter to stand together, and keep in good touch with each other on this issue.
I should have tried harder to do that when I was in the House– but back then, there were only three of us. Now there are 54.
He suggested that the 54 might establish a more robust structure to coordinate on this issue– “They could call it the Caucus for the National Interest!” he said.
(Hey, we support that!)
He recalled that,
back in my day, when I was in Congress and the Lobby was going after me, there was no such thing as a grassroots campaign to express support for the stand I was taking. But I went ahead anyway.
He underlined that the fact that these 54 members had signed the letter to Pres. Obama, “is very important in itself– and it should also be a gateway to further efforts on this issue.”