By Matthew Rothschild on November 04, 2009

Shame on the House of Representatives, and on the Democratic leadership of the House, for pushing through a resolution once again blindly taking the side of Israeli aggression.

I’m referring to the vote on Tuesday, by a lopsided 344-to-36 margin*, to condemn the Goldstone report on Gaza.

That report, by South African jurist Richard Goldstone for the UN, showed that both Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes in the lead-up to and during Israel’s invasion of Gaza almost a year ago. (To read the executive summary, click here)

It noted that Israel deliberately attacked civilian targets, and did not take sufficient action to minimize civilian loss of life. For instance, it found that Israel even refused to allow the evacuation of the injured by ambulance.

The report also condemned Hamas for its rocket attacks into Israel, which the report said were designed to create terror.

Even as the U.N. was about to consider the report, the House measure called it “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.” And it urged the Obama Administration to “strongly and unequivocally oppose” any discussion of it at the UN.

This reflexive attitude that Israel can do no wrong is morally bankrupt and exceedingly unhelpful in resolving, in a just manner, the conflict between Israel and Palestinians.

Dennis Kucinich had it right when he denounced the House majority for going along with this. His statement is so powerful that I’m excerpting it at length here.

“Today we journey from Operation Cast Lead to Operation Cast Doubt,” he said on the House floor on Tuesday. “Almost as serious as committing war crimes is covering up war crimes, pretending that war crimes were never committed and did not exist.

“Because behind every such deception is the nullification of humanity, the destruction of human dignity, the annihilation of the human spirit, the triumph of Orwellian thinking, the eternal prison of the dark heart of the totalitarian.

“The resolution before us today, which would reject all attempts of the Goldstone Report to fix responsibility of all parties to war crimes, including both Hamas and Israel, may as well be called the ‘Down is Up, Night is Day, Wrong is Right: resolution.’ . . .

"How can we ever expect there to be peace in the Middle East if we tacitly approve of violations of international law and international human rights, if we look the other way, or if we close our eyes to the heartbreak of people on both sides by white-washing a legitimate investigation?

"How can we protect the people of Israel from existential threats if we hold no concern for the protection of the Palestinians, for their physical security, their right to land, their right to their own homes, their right to water, their right to sustenance, their right to freedom of movement, their right to human security of jobs, education and health care?

"We will have peace only when the plight of both Palestinians and Israelis is brought before this House and given equal consideration in recognition of that principle that all people on this planet have a right to survive and thrive, and it is our responsibility, our duty to see that no individual, no group, no people are barred from this humble human claim."

Until most members of Congress show some respect for international law and some humanity toward Palestinians, there’s no reason for Israel to.

*Nays: Baird • Baldwin • Blumenauer • Boustany • Capps • Carson (IN) • Clarke • Clay • Davis (KY) • Dingell • Doggett • Edwards (MD) • Ellison • Filner • Grijalva • Hinchey • Johnson, E. B. • Kilpatrick • Kucinich • Lee (CA) • Lynch • McCollum • McDermott • McGovern • Miller • George • Moran (VA) • Olver • Pastor (AZ) • Paul • Price (NC) • Rahall • Snyder • Stark • Waters • Watt • Woolsey

Present: Becerra • Cooper • Dahlkemper • DeFazio • Delahunt • Duncan • Eshoo • Farr • Heinrich • Hirono • Honda • Johnson (GA) • Jones • Kaptur • Loebsack • Lofgren, Zoe • Lujàn • Obey • Speier • Tierney • Welch •Wu

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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