‘Our Israel’: My Exchange with House Minority Leader John Boehner

By Tammy Obeidallah

Sometimes it is not sufficient to know that our elected leaders simply ‘support’ Israel. We must read  their own words in order to understand how deeply ingrained are the lies, the false history and the blatant disregard for Palestinian suffering, subsequently manifested in American foreign policy. I received the following letter from Congressman John Boehner (Ohio-8th District):

Dear Tammy,

Thank you for contacting me regarding our Israel. (Yes, he did use the word “our.”) It is good to hear from you.

H.Res 867 was introduced by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on October 23, 2009 and referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. H. Res.867 would urge the President and the Secretary of State to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the “Report on the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict” in multilateral fora. The resolution would further consider the “Report on the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict” or the Goldstone Report, to be biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy. The resolution further supports the Administration’s efforts to combat anti-Israel bias at the United Nations and reaffirms support for Israel and for Israel’s right to defend its citizens from violent militant groups and their state sponsors. This resolution passed through the House on November 3, 2009 by a vote of 344 to 36, with 22 Representatives voting present.  I voted for this resolution.

I am a strong supporter of Israel and always have been. This besieged nation is the oldest democracy in the Middle East and its stability and ability to defend itself are essential to a lasting peace in the region. Israel is surrounded by many countries which have never recognized its right to exist (with the exception of Egypt and Jordan). These neighbors have gone to war with Israel five times with the sole purpose of annihilating the Jewish state and have pledged time and time again to maintain this adversarial position.

My support for Israel does not mean that I ignore the tragic loss of life on both sides. I can assure you I am closely monitoring this situation. This is a matter Congress is paying a great deal of attention to, and we will continue to suppport President Obama’s efforts to encourage and facilitate peace.

Please rest assured I will keep your thoughts in mind should I have the opportunity to vote on legislation addressing this issue. Thank you again for contacting me with your thoughts. Pelase don’t hesitate to inform me of your concerns in the future.  To sign up for email updates, I invite you to visit my website at http://johnboehner.house.gov/Forms/Form/?ID=89.

John A. Boehner

I replied with the following:

Congressman Boehner:

Thank you for contacting me regarding Palestine.

Your support of HR 867, effectively dismissing the Goldstone Report as “biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy” is appalling. Judge Richard Goldstone serves as a trustee of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and is a self-proclaimed Zionist. His report concluded both Israel and Hamas committed grave breaches of international law. Therefore, claims of bias are baseless, showing how far the House of Representatives will go to whitewash Israeli war crimes.

If you define democracy as a state with an elected government, then Israel may qualify. In the broader sense–the one where democratic ideals include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all people, regardless of race or religion–then Israel falls painfully short.

Israel is currently holding over 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in its jails, including women and minors. Ha’aretz, a leading Israeli newspaper, published the report of a European fact-finding mission to the prisons. It was discovered that 88 percent of the inmates were being held without formal charges, trial or hearing. Is this your idea of a democracy?

In a true democracy, freedom of religion is extended to all citizens. Israel has often denied Christian and Muslim pilgrims alike from worshipping in their respective holy sites. Muslim boys and men aged 15-40 have at times been barred from Friday prayers by Israeli authorities arbitrarily.

Moreover, it is historical fallacy to cite Arab countries as the aggressors in Israel’s wars. Prior to 1948, the Irgun and Stern gangs waged a terror campaign against British forces in Palestine, as well as targeting Palestinian civilians. The King David Hotel bombing killed 91 British personnel, injuring 45. These same gangs, led by Menachem Begin (who would later serve as Israel’s Prime Minister) massacred over 100 Palestinian men, women and children in the village of Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948. Small wonder that when Israel was established the following month, Arab neighbors attempted to thwart the total depopulation and subsequent obliteration of some 500 Palestinian villages, courtesy of the new Israeli army.

In October 1956, Moshe Dayan launched combined air and land assaults into Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.

In 1967, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. It was during the six-day course of this war that Israel also attacked the USS Liberty, an American ship. Thirty-four American sailors died and an additional 172 were wounded. Israel claimed the Liberty was mistaken for the Egyptian El Quseir, a ludicrous excuse as El Quseir was 180 feet shorter and very differently configured. The Liberty had her name clearly written in English, while the Egyptian ship would have displayed Arabic script. Surviving sailors testified that it was a deliberate attack, unless you wish to doubt the words of the American servicemen you claim to so vehemently support. As an intelligence gathering vessel, Liberty was likely to intercept real time evidence of the massacres committed by Israel in the Golan Heights, enough motive to destroy the American ship.

The Yom Kippur War in 1973 stemmed from Egypt’s desire to regain the Sinai Peninsula lost in the 1967 conflict, as Syria tried to recapture the Golan Heights.

Israel launched a full-scale invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

It is apparent the only thing you are monitoring is the flow of money from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) into your coffer. Your position itself is not surprising; however, I was shocked by your audacity to spend 42 taxpayer cents on mailing me pro-Israel propaganda. Let me make it clear that I am not buying.


– Tammy Obeidallah contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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