Thursday, April 01, 2010

Congressman Brian Baird stands up for the people of Gaza

Seattle Times - Bruce - Ramsay.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The United States should break Israel's blockade of Gaza and deliver badly needed supplies by sea, a U.S. congressman told Gaza students.

The congressman was Brian Baird. Many of his colleagues go to Israel, few to Gaza — and none as often as he. The southwest Washington Democrat likes to see things for himself. He went to Iraq, and changed his opinion of U.S. strategy there.

Why Gaza? In an interview, Baird recalled a speech some years ago by Israel's current premier, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). To Baird, the speech was "thinly disguised racism" — and he recoiled from it. When the crowd applauded, he and his wife walked out.

Then there was Rachel Corrie, who in 2003 was killed in Gaza while trying to block an Israeli bulldozer from wrecking a Gazan house. The Corrie family lives in Baird's district.

Many of his friends "are very distressed" with his criticism of Israel, Baird said. "But if they would see what I have seen and could meet the people I have met, they would change their position."

He recalled his visit to Gaza in February 2009, after Israel's invasion. The American International School had been "a beautiful school, with a Western curriculum." Israel had flattened it, Baird said, "using bombs made by us." A U.S.Alabama. military man told him of finding a phosphorus shell from the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama.

By Israel's count, the final death toll of the war on Gaza was 1,166 Gazans and 13 Israelis — a kill ratio of 90-to-1. By the Gazans' count the ratio was 111-to-1.

Israel said it was defending itself, against rockets — homemade pipe-bomb-type rockets. These had been fired by Gazan hotheads against the Israeli town of Sderot to protest Israel's quarantine. The rockets hadn't killed any Israelis, but they might have.

All sides in war claim self-defense. Maybe because Baird is a psychologist he is less inclined to accept such claims at face value. He recalled the reaction of Israeli generals and rightist politicians when he disputed them: How dare you question us?

Keep pushing on them, he said, "and something more pernicious comes out." They will say, "Don't lecture us about humanity after all you've done."

Netanyahu once reminded an interviewer who was pushing him that the British and Americans had firebombed Dresden. Years ago, on a radio show, when I condemned Israel for taking Palestinian land, my host asked if I would give New Mexico back to the Mexicans.

It is a telling argument. A conqueror's argument. You don't hear it, though, unless you peel off the wrapping paper of "defense." And Congress won't do that.

Baird recalled the vote on the Goldstone report, in which jurist Richard Goldstone listed human-rights violations on both sides of the Gaza war. Goldstone has big credentials from his work in Bosnia and Rwanda. And he is Jewish. But he criticized the Israeli military — and the House quickly voted to dismiss his report. All of this state's representatives voted against the report except Baird and Seattle Democrat Jim McDermott, a psychiatrist.

"Colleague after colleague denounced a report they had never read, about a place to which they had never been," Baird said. "I read the Goldstone report. All of it. I found it credible."

Baird is not running for re-election.


At 10:30 AM, Blogger Daniel Marks said...

Hi Gert,

As a lad I was told that talking to oneself is the first sign of madness. With that in mind I thought I'd pop into your "virgin" blog and tell you not to give up. There must be someone, somewhere interested. In Hebrew we say that every pot has its lid.

I shall not engage you on the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict as I wouldn't want to get you in trouble with the Hamas again, I hear they have lads in London too, but just to wish you lots of luck with the blog.

As a thought you may think of writing "for" rather than always "against" something. It would make you seem less like a grumpy old git - sorry, that should have read Girt.

At 2:41 PM, Blogger Gert said...

The power of 'positive thinking', eh Daniel?

Would it make you happy if I started writing in glowing terms about Palestinian resistance or culture?

People can think of me whatever they like. Thick skin and all that. I'm sure you've got a Hebrew expression for it...

At 3:35 AM, Blogger Greg Potemkin said...

You know Gert - I actually thought that this post was about something(Congressman Baird's position on the blockade of Gaza) that you were "for" rather than "against".

Anyhow, I think that on those few occasions when US congressmen do the right thing (like in the referenced article), it should be pointed out, along with the innumerable occasions when congressmen do the wrong thing, and grovel to the zionist lobby.

Thanks for posting.

At 2:06 PM, Blogger Gert said...


Notice how these wonderful people only ever do the right thing when they're not running for re-election.

The US is full of Israel critics like that: former this and former that. My favourite is ex ME diplomat Edward Peck. He tells it like it is. Unfortunately has a covenant with the US government: 'I say what I want and the US government pledges not to listen to me!'

At 6:10 PM, Blogger Daniel Marks said...

Yup, Write me about Palestinian culture. Explain to me what makes it uniquely different to other Arab cultures.

That might be fun!

At 7:25 PM, Blogger Gert said...


Only in the mind of the racist do such things matter: that 'we' are a 'Real People' and 'they' are 'not'. Though on those who can't prove their credentials as Members of a Real People, they must simply wander the world forever: stateless, homeless and without rights. A bit like the 4.5 million or so 'Pseudostinians'.

Go away Daniel, I've already had enough of you.

At 5:06 AM, Blogger Frank Partisan said...

Daniel: The nation-state historically is a new phenomena historically. It is a product of capitalism. It is a better form of organization than a tribe, empire, sect, kingdom etc.

Colonialism developed because national consciousness wasn't on the horizon. Later anti-colonial struggles developed, when more of the world became aware of nationalism.

Within Arab countries there are class differences. Within individual classes there are differences. There are national differences. Differences between nations. Differences within nations. The same applies within Israel. It's no monolith. Dark skinned Jews, live in homes near Hamas missiles. Thee are class differences. In Tel Aviv 35% of the vote, went to the Communist Party. Nothing is static.

I oppose any position that says Palestinians and Israelis are a monolith. Zionism and Palestinian nationalism, are no different than any other nationalism.

What's the difference between Guatemala and El Salvador?

At 8:00 PM, Blogger Gert said...


I don't think Daniel is really referring to the Nation State, but rather to the racist notion that 'Jews are a Real People [a nation]' and the 'Fakestinians are not'. Hence the Jewish Nation has a Right to Its Own Nation State and the poor sandniggerish untermenschen haven't. Off to 'Arabia' with them...

Whether or not this people or that people are a Real People or not should of course not matter one iota. What else should we do with those undesirables. And yes, the overlap between Nazi 'Blut und Boden' ideology and Zionism is noted deliberately here.

At 8:07 AM, Blogger Daniel Marks said...

I think you'll find that the first person to call us a nation was Pharaoh in Egypt 3,50o years ago:

Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. 9 "Look," he said to his people, "the Israelite nation have become much too numerous for us.

Before that we were usually referred to as the children of Israel. God used the term quite a lot too.

"In Tel Aviv 35% of the vote, went to the Communist Party." - Please tell me more. Which election? When?

At 2:36 PM, Blogger Gert said...


"God used the term quite a lot too."

That only works if you believe in G-d. No wonder you're a West Bank settler.

At 9:15 AM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

I'm not going to comment on Brian Baird or most of what has been said in the comments. Just a nitpick about Renegade Eye's claim that the Communist Party got 35% of the vote in Tel-Aviv. That's not true. Dov Chanin got 35%, not his party, and although he's a communist, he wasn't running as part of the communist party Chadash, but rather as the head of the City For All movement, which deals with Tel-Aviv-specific issues. His number 2 was a right-winger.

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Daniel Marks said...

Yup, everyone who believes in God lives on Westbank settlements, which would account for 88% of the world's population.

We're a pretty fruitful lot!

I wish Gert and his lonely blog a shabbat shalom.


At 2:56 PM, Blogger Gert said...


The difference between you Sir and the most of the other believers is that most of them don't see G-d as a Real Estate Agent!

Nor did I say anywhere most of the settlers are religious. You though are.


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