Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Chicago and Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota both reaffirmed their support for the Two-State solution for a peace accord between Palestine and Israel in a mass mailing distributed this week by J-Street. The message is intended to push the belief that despite political differences on who they supported in the Democratic Party Presidential Primary, the Democratic Platform should reflect that continued stand on peace and justice for both sides
By Ray Hanania
U.S. Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Chicago and U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota may have backed different candidates to become their party’s nominees for President of the United States, but they both said that they represent the will of the American people and the Democratic Party in supporting a Two-State Solution to resolve the longstanding conflict between Palestine and Israel.
Gutierrez and Ellison, both Democrats, each supported different presidential candidates. Ellison backed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been hailed as the most progressive and aggressive in supporting Palestinian rights while Gutierrez backed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has come under critics for her sometimes one-sided statements supporting Israel while ignoring or marginalizing Palestinian rights.
But Gutierrez and Ellison stressed that they are committed to resolving the Palestine-Israel conflict by supporting the Two-State solution which was advocated by the late Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin — who was murdered by an extremist follower of current Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu — and the by the late Palestinian President Yasir Arafat who many believed was murdered by the administration of the late Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.
Neither Gutierrez or Ellison engaged in the politics of the failure of the past peace process, driven both by the rejectionism and terrorist violence of Hamas during the 1990s and the rejectionism and terrorist violence of the occupation under Sharon and Netanyahu during the past 15 years.
But their advocacy for Two-States and their personal commitments to recognizing both Israel’s security concerns and the Palestinian demands for statehood recognition and civil rights sends a loud and strong message to all candidates running for president that peace is only possible through two-states.
J-Street is the centrist and moderate voice of a growing segment of American Jewry who support Israel and its security while also supporting freedom, justice and state for Palestinians.
Gutierrez has been a consistent voice for justice and progressive causes and is a leading advocate for immigration reform. Ellison is the first Muslim American to be elected to the U.S. Congress, although he is not of Arab heritage.
Their statements supporting justice and security should resonate as Democrats move forward to find a solution to the turmoil that was ignited by the violent and illegal policies of former President George W. Bush and his war criminal vice president Dick Cheney. The Bush-Cheney invasion of Iraq in 2003 is identified as the single most significant cause of the rise of religious extremism and the spread of anti-American terrorism throughout the Middle East, Europe and the world.
Gutierrez was one of the few principled voices who spoke out against the Iraq War. Ellison was not elected to Congress until 2011, long after the Bush-Cheney violence set a precedence against the International Rule of Law and undermine the rights of many American citizens because of race and religion.
Here is the joint statement from Gutierrez and Ellison that was distributed by J-Street, the moderate American Jewish lobby for peace:
Let us introduce ourselves. We’re both Members of Congress. We’re both supporters of the two-state solution. We both just returned from trips to Israel and Palestine. And both of us were recently chosen to serve on the Democratic Party’s 2016 platform drafting committee.
One of us was named by Secretary Hillary Clinton. The other, by Senator Bernie Sanders.
Some have speculated about divisions within our party over the future of American foreign policy in the Middle East. The truth is that when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we’re on the exact same page. We agree on the core principles that will shape our party’s vision.
On our trips to Israel and Palestine, we met with government officials, peace activists and people going about their day-to-day lives. We witnessed firsthand the challenges and hardships facing people on both sides.
Israelis today live in fear of acts of terror that can turn peaceful marketplaces and neighborhoods into scenes of violence and horror. Palestinians struggle under an unjust occupation that deprives them of the rights, opportunities and independence that they deserve. That is the reality of a conflict that has gone on for far too long and at a terrible cost.
It’s clear how this conflict must end. Israelis must be able to live securely, free from terror. Palestinians must be able to govern themselves in their own state, free from checkpoints, curfews and housing demolitions. The futures of both peoples are inextricably linked, and that future depends on the two-state solution.
This view is not controversial. And we’re certainly not the only ones who feel this way. These are the consensus goals and principles shared by the vast majority of Democrats of every race, ethnicity and faith.
Our party knows that diplomacy works — and that when the US works with our partners to lead the way, we can help bring about changes that can transform millions of lives and make our world safer.
In Congress, both of us have emphasized our strong support for American leadership to help bring Israelis and Palestinians together and frame the path forward to peace. Presidents from both parties have played that role in the past, bridging gaps and building confidence to help transcend the mistrust built up after decades of conflict. Our country has a vital role to play.
So as we and our colleagues work over the next few weeks to frame our party’s platform, we’re confident that we can seize this moment and confirm the consensus vision of peace, security and human dignity shared by our party and its supporters.
Both of us have come to admire and respect so many Israelis and Palestinians; friends and partners trapped in a difficult reality that they are desperate to break out of. We hope to travel to the region soon — and to one day visit neighboring states of Israel and Palestine. An Israel and Palestine where nobody lives in fear, and where both peoples are focused not on conflict and destruction, but on the challenges of developing flourishing and inclusive democratic societies.
We know that we share this dream with millions of Israelis and Palestinians. And we know we share it with millions of Americans as well. This future won’t come easily — but it is possible. And it is necessary.
Working together, we can do our part to help make it a reality.
Representative Keith Ellison (MN-5)
Representative Luis Gutierrez (IL-4)
Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. He began writing in 1975 publishing The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues as Special US Correspondent for the Arab News ArabNews.com, at TheArabDailyNews.com, and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday, the Orlando Sentinel, Houston Chronical, and Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
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