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Challenging Congressional Ignorance

23 March 2024

By Isra Nadeem 

This week, CODEPINK decided to reach out to a few individuals and groups, including Hakeem Jeffries, Mike Johnson, and the Republican Party. Our main aim was to educate these congresspeople about the situation in Palestine. We visited a few offices to discuss the issue and highlight that we as Americans should spend our hard earned tax dollars here at home. Additionally, we intended to discuss the new bipartisan deal which sets a precedent for defunding UNRWA. According to multiple sources, humanitarian aid provided cannot be routed through UNRWA until at least March 2025, and must go through other organizations instead.

Monday, March 18th

On Monday, we decided to visit the office of Speaker Mike Johnson to express our deep concern about the situation in Gaza and to emphasize that our funds should remain in the US. However, our conversation with his Chief of Staff revealed that Speaker Johnson and his team were completely uninformed about the Israeli occupation. In 2020, Johnson flew to Israel with the sponsorship of an organization called the 12 Tribes Film Foundation. During his visit, he met with Israeli officials, IDF soldiers, and a right-wing think tank called the Kohelet Policy Forum, which helped Netanyahu to manipulate the Judiciary in his favor. After returning to the US from this trip, which cost $35,000, Johnson claimed that he saw no evidence of oppression of the Palestinian people

Tuesday, March 19th

On Tuesday, during a hearing, Chairman McCaul questioned top generals appointed by President Biden about the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. We attended the hearing to express our disappointment and argued that instead of discussing Afghanistan, the focus should be on the Gaza Strip, where there hasn't been a hearing on the deaths of 33,000 Palestinians. We asked the generals if they were concerned about the situation in Gaza, where people are facing famine and forced starvation. After our conversation with Speaker Johnson's office on Monday, we decided to revisit the issue of the office's claim that the massive civilian casualties in Gaza were simply a "consequence of war". We did a teach-in in Johnson's constituency office, but unfortunately, out of shame, they called the police. We continued teaching in the hallway, but they told us we were protesting. As co-founder of CODEPINK, Medea Benjamin, put it, " There is no place for the people in the people's house."

Wednesday, March 20th

We began Wednesday day by attending a hearing on the Pakistani elections. We were expelled from the venue before we even began protesting. The audience disagreed and started chanting "LIES!" while Congress questioned Donald Lu, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs. The committee then ordered the removal of only three people. According to documents leaked to the Intercept, in 2022, Lu had a tense meeting with Pakistan's former ambassador to the US. During the meeting, State Department officials threatened that Pakistan could face isolation from the US and its allies due to Khan's neutrality on the war in Ukraine. Lu then informed the Pakistani ambassador that "all would be forgiven" if Khan was removed from power. Following Khan's removal, the US assisted Pakistan in obtaining a large loan from the IMF, and the country began producing ammunition for the war in Ukraine. We also had many interactions with congressmen and women who were so appalling in their words—Congressman Brad Sherman, who AIPAC bought for $719,600, ran away and accused us of wanting to "kill every Jew" when we asked about his support for Israel's genocide. He can lie all he wants but can't escape the truth: the blood is on his hands.

Thursday, March 21st

We spoke with Rep Meeks, Rep Andy Harris, and Senator Marco Rubio on Thursday. All of them had appalling responses to us asking for a ceasefire and an end to the weapons being sent to Israel. Harris called a CODEPINK activist a “terrorist” and “Hamas sympathizer” when she approached him about the lack of humanitarian aid getting into Gaza. Rubio denied the casualty numbers, and Meeks remained silent, which reflected his complicity and being bought by AIPAC. Israel has created “famine-like” conditions for the people of Gaza, as they have blocked trucks from getting into the area and shot at people attempting to grab aid.

 Friday, March 22nd

Appalling news recently came out on Thursday as we learned that Speaker Mike Johnson thought it appropriate to invite the genocidal maniac, Netanyahu, to Congress. Johnson's invitation was truly astonishing as he is allowing the man who has murdered 33,000 people in Gaza to come to our country and speak to our politicians, who should be disgusted by him. On Friday, we were able to confront Johnson as he shamefully tried to pass us by.