This is an open letter to Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
Yesterday the Senate adopted by unanimous voice vote S. Res. 10, supporting Israel’s ongoing actions in Gaza. I called your office to find out if you voted Yea, remained silent, or were absent. Your staff directed me to your online statement on Res. 10. I read it, but remained puzzled: it does not say how, or even whether, you voted. It is oddly silent on that point.
Let me explain why I care. In your online statement you note, accurately, that as of January 8, Israel had killed 758 Palestinians, including 257 children, while 10 Israelis had died, including 7 soldiers (4 of those by friendly fire). Those are shocking numbers, and I’m glad you mention them, but you evade the core issue: that Israel is bombing, apparently deliberately, UN-run refugee centers and convoys as well as homes and facilities that keep civilians alive. It is killing over 200 times as many civilians as Hamas is. It has killed hundreds of children. All this has been done with US funds and arms that could not flow without the assent of you and your colleagues in the Senate and House.
Balanced-sounding calls for better behavior from “both sides” are out of order. This is not a “war,” a conflict in which two “sides” contend in some militarily meaningful way. There are more Israelis dying each day in traffic accidents than by Hamas's actions. What is happening in Gaza is collective capital punishment. To suggest, as you do, that Israel’s actions are ill-considered from a strategic point of view — badly calculated to preserve Israel itself in the long run — is true but, to say the least, inadequate.
Yesterday former Knesset member Uri Avnery called Israel’s actions “inhuman, immoral, totally unjustified and unnecessary.” Can you do the same? Can you say that Israel’s actions are mass murder that cannot be excused as self-defense against Hamas's criminal but militarily pathetic vengeance rockets?
I ask you to stand up and speak out on this massacre. Speak up loud and clear, please, and on the record.