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The Price of Complicity

21 April 2024

By Isra Nadeem

This Saturday, the House is set to vote on a $95 billion package of bills that was previously voted on in the Senate back in February. The package includes two bills that have been amended to gain support from conservatives in the House. The Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, is presenting the package, which contains military aid to Ukraine and Israel, as well as the distribution of US weapons and humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. According to the House Appropriations Committee, the package proposes $26 billion in aid to Israel, which includes $9 billion for humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza and $4 billion for Israel's missile defense system. The total aid cost sent to Ukraine would be $61 billion, and $8 billion to Taiwan. It is important to note that passing these bills will have catastrophic effects on the people of Gaza, as it would aid Israel in continuing its bombardment. Additionally, on April 13th, Iran attacked Israel in response to an Israeli strike on one of Tehran's diplomatic facilities in Syria. This was the first time in over three decades that a foreign state had launched an attack on Israeli soil. The attack was carried out openly, but the current public narrative claims that this attack was unwarranted and has pushed congressmen and women to believe they need to protect Israel.

Monday, April 15th

On Monday, we attempted to campaign against the ongoing attacks. When we visited offices, we discovered a shift in sentiment from those who were previously in alliance with sending no more weapons to Israel. They now claim that, due to the Iranian attacks, Israel requires weapons more than ever. The disconnect between the realization of Iran's actions and this change in sentiment is disappointing. Therefore, we explained to those offices that an attack on an embassy is an attack on a country. We also mentioned that Iran's embassy was bombed in Syria, which led to the death of high-level officials.

Tuesday, April 16th

Yesterday, we attended a hearing of the Armed Services Committee that focused on the army budget. During the hearing, the committee speaker, Mike Rogers, advocated for the supplemental funding bill to be passed so that financial support to Ukraine and Israel could go through. As he spoke, some of us sat quietly in the audience. We raised our hands with red paint to symbolize the blood on the military's hands. Mike Rogers was visibly uncomfortable with our action and requested we stop. He even threatened to have us arrested if we did not comply. After our symbolic gesture, we decided to leave the hearing, but it was essential to make our presence felt and remind them of their complicity in the ongoing siege on Gaza.

Wednesday, April 17th

On Wednesday, we attended a hearing with the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, in the Appropriations Committee. During the hearing, we called him out for lying to the nation about the situation in Gaza. Austin was criticized for disregarding a US federal court case earlier this year that accused President Joe Biden and other senior US officials of complicity in Israel's alleged actions in Gaza. We stood up as Austin was testifying on Israel, Gaza, Iran, and Ukraine. According to Austin, "We don't have evidence of a genocide being committed," to which we respond by looking at the ICJ case, the social media of the IDF soldiers, the death toll, the forced starvation, the 2,000-pound bombs being dropped, the mass displacement of people. How can one say there is no genocide with all the evidence being shown to the world by the people of Gaza? At the same time as this hearing was the House Education & Workforce Committee hearing with the President of Columbia University regarding the issue of antisemitism on campus. However, despite being the first to line up, anti-Zionist Columbia students and alums were not allowed to attend the hearing. The administration of Columbia University has taken harsh measures against students and professors who are advocating for justice in Palestine. They have established an "antisemitism task force" that has yet to define what constitutes antisemitism and have suspended both Palestinian and Jewish students. Furthermore, when former IOF soldiers attacked pro-Palestinian protesters on campus using skunk bombs, the university chose to remain silent. Now, Congress is questioning university President Minouche Shafik for not taking even more robust action against students who are organizing for Palestine.

Thursday, April 18th

Thursday, we decided to make several office visits to urge Congressmen and women to vote against the supplemental bill that will be coming to a vote on Saturday. Our biggest concern is the inadequate argument made about the humanitarian aid in the package. Although humanitarian aid is needed, we cannot justify sending bombs with it. It's also important to recognize that despite our desire to send aid, there is no strong entity to distribute it because we no longer fund UNRWA, and Israel has kept the aid trucks at the border.

Friday, April 19th

On Friday we continued our mission for the week and went to offices of those who we felt would understand that this upcoming bill would cause complete and utter destruction of Palestine. We ask they vote against the bill on Saturday.