by CODEPINK Intern Isra Nadeem
As of today, five senators and sixty-six representatives have called for a ceasefire in Gaza.
We spent another week in the halls of Congress to call for a ceasefire. This time, we focused on Biden's disastrous decision to cut funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA. Unsurprisingly, we had a few run-ins with our lawmakers.
Over the weekend, Nancy Pelosi went viral for going on the news and saying that protestors who are asking for a ceasefire, like us, ought to be investigated by the FBI because, "When they advocate for a ceasefire, it's Putin's agenda at play. Let's be clear: this is directly aligned with his objectives." She went viral again right after for telling our very own CODEPINK member Cynthia Papermaster to "Go back to China" back in October as the video resurfaced. So on Monday we arrived at the Longworth Building to address the statements made by Nancy Pelosi the previous day to remind her that we are peace activists who want justice for all, not puppets of anyone else. Her comments are dangerous and cast doubt on the sincerity of those advocating for peace, Pelosi's words struck a nerve with the public, particularly with our group CODEPINK. We paid her, and other AIPAC funded politicians visits on Monday to call out the hypocrisy of their campaign funding while they call peace activists foreign agents. Watch our TikTok from Monday!
Over the weekend of the 27th, the United States cut funding to UNRWA, an aid agency that provides aid to two million Palestinians in Gaza, in response to Israel's allegations that employees of the agency were involved in the attacks on October 7. This culminated in a pivotal hearing led by the US on Tuesday, titled "UNRWA Exposed: Examining the Agency's Mission and Failures," where the debate revolved around the potential withdrawal of funding from the mission. UNRWA stands as a crucial lifeline for millions of Palestinians, providing essential aid for their survival.
Mast, a Republican Representative from Florida, advocates for defunding UNRWA and questions the innocence of children in Gaza. We ran into him in the halls before the hearing where he questioned the innocence of children in Gaza and said that there needed to be more infrastructure in Gaza destroyed. The heated debate between us and Mast went viral, watch it here.
Naturally, we had to attend the hearing that was just a plain attempt to justify the defunding of UNRWA. Throughout the proceedings, Mast also disparaged and distorted the words of the only democratic witness supporting the continuation of UNRWA funding. Five of us got up and disrupted the hearing, and all five of us were arrested.
While we spent another day in Congress calling for a ceasefire and UNRWA funding to be restored, Chicago made history by being the largest city in the United States to call for a ceasefire. Our team in Chicago celebrated the win. As more cities call for a ceasefire, our work in Congress became even more important. We visited representatives that are refusing to do their job: represent the vast majority of Americans who support a ceasefire.
On Thursday, February 1st, we took part in a protest at Union Station's central intersection, which successfully shut down the area. We aimed to remind those working comfortably in the Capitol of the genocide they were supporting. We marched outside Secretary of State Blinken's office and chanted, "Blood is on your hands," while pouring red paint on the roads. On this day, the team also spoke to Rep. Matt Gaetz. We asked for his support for a ceasefire and the provisional measures of the ICJ ruling, and he told us he gives the court "no credibility," even though he hasn't thoroughly read the case or watched the hearing. Maybe his disregard for international law concerns the $149k+ he's taken from the arms industry.
On Friday, we went through the House of Representatives and visited members of the Armed Services Committee to stress the threat of a wider war, with Biden planning "weeks-long bombing to punish Iran in the Middle East," according to the Hill. We spoke to the aids of many offices urging for a ceasefire and the continued funding of UNRWA.