Congress: 404 to 1 in giving Israel a free pass

This post is not about Ron Paul, since I am not a libertarian and do not agree with most of his views outside of foreign policy (specifically his argument for the end of American empire in the Middle East and major cuts in defense spending). But there is something deeply wrong with Congress when this kind of deeply flawed, lob-sided resolution can go through with only one vote against:



On Wednesday, March 5, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 951, which condemns the ongoing Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, holding both Iran and Syria responsible for "sponsoring terror attacks." Additionally, the resolution claims that "those responsible for launching rocket attacks against Israel routinely embed their production facilities and launch sites amongst the Palestinian civilian population, utilizing them as human shields …". For the full text of House Resolution 951, please click here.

This resolution problematically includes a strong defense of the recent Israeli incursions in Gaza. The following is one such exert: "Whereas the inadvertent inflicting of civilian casualties as a result of defensive military operations aimed at military targets, while deeply regrettable, is not at all morally equivalent to the deliberate targeting of civilian populations as practiced by Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist groups…"

The resolution passed the House with an unequivocal majority of 404 to 1 with four representatives voting present and nineteen abstaining. Who was the lone Member of Congress to stand up to the Israel Lobby? Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) not only voted against HR 951, but also made a very strong statement explaining why he opposed such a biased pro-Israel statement.



Below is Rep. Paul's statement he gave to the House before the vote:



Mr. Speaker I rise in opposition to H. Res. 951, a resolution to condemn Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. As one who is consistently against war and violence, I obviously do not support the firing of rockets indiscriminately into civilian populations. I believe it is appalling that Palestinians are firing rockets that harm innocent Israelis, just as I believe it is appalling that Israel fires missiles into Palestinian areas where children and other non-combatants are killed and injured.



Unfortunately, legislation such as this is more likely to perpetuate violence in the Middle East than contribute to its abatement. It is our continued involvement and intervention - particularly when it appears to be one-sided - that reduces the incentive for opposing sides to reach a lasting peace agreement.



Additionally, this bill will continue the march toward war with Iran and Syria, as it contains provocative language targeting these countries. The legislation oversimplifies the Israel/Palestine conflict and the larger unrest in the Middle East by simply pointing the finger at Iran and Syria. This is another piece in a steady series of legislation passed in the House that intensifies enmity between the United States and Iran and Syria. My colleagues will recall that we saw a similar steady stream of provocative legislation against Iraq in the years before the US attack on that country.



I strongly believe that we must cease making proclamations involving conflicts that have nothing to do with the United States. We incur the wrath of those who feel slighted while doing very little to slow or stop the violence.






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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.