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11 Jun, 2010 06:12

US activists direct anger over Gaza at US Congress

Following last week's deadly attack on the Gaza-bound “Freedom Flotilla” that was carrying humanitarian aid, protesters in the US have stepped up their campaign against the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory.

In response to accusations of terrorism for being involved with the Free Gaza Movement, a small group of Americans turned up at Democrat Brad Sherman’s Capitol Hill office, with the intention of voluntarily making themselves available for arrest.

“Call [the congressman] and tell him you have four terrorists here and something needs to be done,” the group demanded.

The crime they are allegedly guilty of is “[challenging] a policy of Israel that is being so destructive to the people of Gaza,” said retired US Army Colonel and activist Ann Wright

This is the reason why Ann Wright and others boarded the flotilla with humanitarian aid and headed for Gaza – actions that Congressman Sherman says the activists should be prosecuted for, alleging they were helping terrorists, or were even guilty of being them.

Despite the group’s publicity stunt in the US capital, the activists have brought to light what they believe is a serious issue – US Congress is out of touch over the Gaza issue.

“I think that it’s clear that Congress’ policies, its votes, its positions on this conflict are so out of the tune with the rest of the world and even with the American public that it’s beyond belief,” said Adam Shapiro, Free Gaza Movement activist.

Congressman Sherman’s stance reflects US Congress’ continued support of Israel’s policies in the wake of the deadly flotilla raid.

“The rest of the world knows exactly what America is doing. The US government is protecting Israel in everything that it does,” said Ann Wright.

While people are protesting on the streets of the US and other countries, musicians have boycotted Israel because of their policies, and politicians in other countries have condemned the state.

“Israel has made a historic mistake. This mistake is not just against Turkey, but also against all 32 countries represented on the boat attacked,” declared Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently.

Even US President Obama says the blockade of Gaza cannot continue:

“Not only is the status quo with respect to Gaza unsustainable, but the status quo with respect to the Middle East is unsustainable,” he said.

In light of Obama’s statement, Republican Congressman Mike Pence fired back, “Mr. President, whose side are you on? You said, ‘The situation in Gaza is unsustainable.’ The truth is your policy toward Israel is unsustainable.”

In addition, Congress has expressed its criticism of Obama’s pledge of $400 million in aid to the Palestinians who are suffering at Israel’s hands.

“Today’s pledge to fund another bailout of the Palestinian leadership – a $400 million windfall – sends the message that standing in the way of peace and freedom can be quite profitable,” reads the statement by Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Activists say that what is not paying off is the unrelenting US support of Israel.

“US policies need to change and US polices are really endangering the United States,” Ann Wright said.

Even though Congress has lashed back over the aid package, activists say the Palestinians are paying too.

“We all believe that the siege of Gaza must end, that the open air prison that’s caused by the Israeli policies of siege and blockade must end,” Ann Wright concluded.