Ellison, McCollum express concern over resolution supporting Israel

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum expressed strong concern today over a House resolution that reaffirmed U.S. support for Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks.

“I come to the floor today torn about this resolution,” said Ellison, a Democrat who became the first Muslim member of Congress in 2006 and represents Minnesota’s 5th district.

Ellison mentioned his first-hand encounters during a trip to Israel with the “physical and emotional destruction” caused by Hamas, but added that the United States needs “to have compassion for the people of Gaza and the tremendous human suffering there.”

In an interview afterward, Ellison, who issued a statement earlier this week calling for an immediate ceasefire, elaborated on his statements from the house floor.

“For the U.S. Congress to simply reiterate its statement that Israel has a right to defend itself, to me misses the critical issue before the world at this moment, which is the humanitarian crisis,” Ellison said.

The House passed the resolution by 390 votes to five.

About 750 Palestinians and 12 Israelis have died in the 13 days of fighting in Gaza, according to news service reports.

The fighting has left hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza desperate for food, water, and medical assistance.

The United Nations suspended food deliveries to Gaza Thursday and the Red Cross accused Israel of blocking medical assistance.

McCollum, a Democrat who represents Minnesota’s 4th District, echoed Ellison’s concerns with the resolution on Friday.

“I recognize Israel’s right to protect its citizens from the persistent and growing threat of rocket attacks,” McCollum said from the House floor.  “However, as an unwavering proponent of peace, and as an advocate for the rights and security of the Israeli and Palestinian people, I seriously question the proportionality of Israel’s response.”

McCollum added that the resolution did not go far enough in immediately calling for a cease-fire. Instead, McCollum said, the resolution “justifies Israel’s bombardment of the citizens of Gaza, sanctions the incursion of Israeli troops into Gaza to clear this occupied territory of Hamas fighters regardless of the human cost, and calls for “supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process” while innocent Palestinian women and children are being killed in Gaza.”

Ellison and McCollum were among 22 House members who voted “present.” The rest of the Minnesota delegation voted for the resolution.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Republican who represents the 6th District, said during the House debate over the resolution today that the United States must stand behind Israel and its right to defend itself.

“Now, it is time that Congress put its words into action and stand strong behind our most valuable ally, Israel,” she said.

Cynthia Dizikes covers Minnesota’s congressional delegation and reports on issues and developments in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at cdizikes[at]minnpost[dot]com.

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Comments (27)

  1. Submitted by John Jordan on 01/09/2009 - 04:19 pm.

    Yep, leave it up to these two extremists to support the bomb-lobbing terrorists.

  2. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 01/09/2009 - 04:59 pm.

    It must have taken an awful lot of imagination to distill their thoughtful comments into “they support the terrorists”.

  3. Submitted by david granneman on 01/09/2009 - 05:13 pm.

    hello all
    what part of “stop shooting rockets and the isrealies will stop bombing” don’t the Palestinians understand. they are cowards who place their rocket launchers in a school and them blame the isrealies for bombing a school. they prefer to hid behind their own women and children and then allow them to be killed. their fate will not change until they elect leaders still not living in the 5th century.

  4. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/09/2009 - 05:25 pm.

    It’s not an easy call, and I sympathize with their point of view. It’s easy to say that the Palestinians are innocent victims caught between two sides, but they did vote for Hamas as their representative, and Hamas has never made any secret of its intention of destroying Israel as soon as it’s capable of doing so.
    I have concerns about the wisdom of Israel’s response, but certainly if they had in fact been indiscriminately attacking civilians in a population of millions, there would have been far more Palestinian deaths than there have been.

  5. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/09/2009 - 06:59 pm.

    The problem is that the Israelis had been planning this operation for a year.
    It’s more a question of Hamas giving them an excuse. You don’t mount a carefully planned operation like this on short notice.

  6. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 01/10/2009 - 09:11 am.

    What part of taking land from Palestinians and shoving them into ghettos do people not understand ?

    Claiming Hamas wants to “destroy Israel” has just become an excuse to obfusticate the great Middle East Land grab.

    So let me see Hamas wants to “destroy Israel”, so Israel has to grab land for settlements ?
    So was there Hamas in the early 80’s when the land grab was in full swing. No.

    Do not preach about Hamas and Palestinian when the other side is equally a part of the problem.

  7. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/10/2009 - 08:21 pm.

    Mr. Maddali, what part of Hamas’ charter do you not understand? This is a claim that Hamas has made explicitly and in writing, not something that others have attributed to them without basis.

  8. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 01/11/2009 - 07:34 am.

    Mr. Brandon

    What part of Israeli settlement policy do you not understand? This is a claim, policy and action that successive Israeli governments have taken. To destroy a Palestinian state.

  9. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 01/11/2009 - 07:51 am.

    Mr Brandon

    Here is Bob Simon of CBS News with Charlie rose. He states clearly that the only solution due to Israeli settlements in the West Bank is apartheid.


    So do you support apartheid ? Was the problem in South Africa apartheid or the ANC terrorism ? Do you agree that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist ?

  10. Submitted by Herbert Davis on 01/12/2009 - 08:00 am.

    A demonstration of courage improves my view of McCollum. Thanks for that!

  11. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 01/12/2009 - 10:32 am.

    Israel has taken steps to address the settlement issue. We all saw the photographs of Israeli soldiers forcibly evicting settlers.

    Are there any similar examples of Hamas self restraint?

    Is there any question that Hamas has no interest in reaching a peaceful arrangement with Israel? C’mon, it’s in their very DNA to foster a culture of victimization and hatred of Israel. That’s how they hold onto power.

    I would welcome any signs that Hamas had the interest or ability to engage in good faith negotiations that had the goal of arranging a peaceable living arrangement with Israel.

    Nothing will ever be good enough for Hamas. There will always be something more that the Israelis should do.

  12. Submitted by Craig Westover on 01/12/2009 - 11:13 am.

    Their concerns would have carried more weight had they chosen to vote “no” rather than “present.”

  13. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 01/12/2009 - 11:13 am.


    Israel evacuated settlements in the Gaza strip to build more permanent settlements in the West Bank. Do you call that a honest action by Israel to address the settlement issues ?

    Examples of Self restraint by Hamas. Sure. They started the rockets only after Israel openly violated the cease fire by starving Gazans and attacking them. A fact that is conveniently ignored.

    Can u show me self restraint by Israel, when it has come to expropriating Palestinian lands ?

    You can’t claim that one side has no interest in peace, however awfull they are, when the other side is busy cooking up excuses and schemes to expropriate lands.

  14. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 01/12/2009 - 11:36 am.

    Starving Gazans?

    I don’t doubt there are food issues in Gaza. Why isn’t the responsibility with Hamas and Fatah for spending all their time scheming how to kill each other and Israelis rather than developing Gaza?

    Okay, I’m sure you could come up with some Israeli policy that had a collateral impact on the food situation and now everyone is supposed to think that Israel wants to “starve” Palestinans.

    I think the world is starting to look through this type of argument. That is why no one is stepping in to stop this.

  15. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 01/12/2009 - 11:39 am.

    I note a previous comment that McCollum exhibited “courage”.

    By voting present?

    Personally, I’d be embarrassed to vote present on anything.

    If you can’t make the tough decisions, what are you doing in D.C.?

  16. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 01/12/2009 - 12:36 pm.


    Nice job side stepping the whole Israeli land grab. Of course for some people it is all terrorism all the time.

    I’m sure u have plenty of excuses as to why its A-ok for Israelis to expropriate Palestinian lands.

    Lets see. Gaza depends on external sources for food. And when your borders are shut. Where does the food come from ?

    The whole world sees clearly thru the AIPAC propaganda.

  17. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 01/12/2009 - 01:45 pm.

    Why are Senator’s Keith and Betty so out-of –touch with the rest of Congress on this issue? Their views do not show courage, but is another example of their extreme agenda.

  18. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 01/12/2009 - 02:37 pm.

    Thank God Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum stand up for American values. Thank God they have not sold themselves to AIPAC and their extremist agenda.

  19. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 01/12/2009 - 02:53 pm.

    Mr. Saunders: Have you not been following the news? Israel did not actually “leave” Gaza in 2005. It built a wall around it with checkpoints through which Gazans, some of whom are strip-searched, must beg to go through to access medical care and where 34 pregnant women have died before they could reach help. Deliveries of food and medicine are halted at will. Attempted export of agricultural products are sometimes destroyed at the checkpoint lest a Gazan earn a little money.

    At will, Israel sends planes and tanks into Gaza and arrests people they think might be “terrorists.” About 10,000 now rot in Israeli jails without charge or hope for release.

    Israel destruction a year or two ago of Gaza City’s water treatment plant reduced its capacity. It now cuts off fuel deliveries, which shuts down both the water plant (until raw sewage runs in the streets) and powers the only hospital.

    The rockets that “rain down on Israel” are sent only in response to Israel’s continued and brutal treatment of the Palestinian people. If the checkpoints were open and monitored by outside forces to be sure they stayed open, the rockets would stop at once.

  20. Submitted by michael goldner on 01/13/2009 - 08:06 am.

    Representative McCullum complains that the Israeli response is not “proportionate.” She is of course correct. But after returning Gaza to the control of the Palestinians 3 years ago, and now receiving continuous rocket fire from civilian occupied areas, proportionality seems to have clearly not served to protect Israeli men, women and children.
    At some point the Gaza strip must be put back under control of someone other than Hamas. In the failure of the other middle eastern powers to act, Israel will defend itself.

    Both Representatives Mc Cullum and Ellison seem to want to have it both ways. Not great leadership!

  21. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 01/13/2009 - 10:44 am.

    What Michael Goldner will not tell u is after evacuating Gaza, the Israelis went on to grab more Palestinian land in the West Bank to settle the Gaza settlers.

    And then on Gaza was run like a concentration camp by the Israelis.

    At some point Israel cannot pretend that they are all out for peace when they cook up every scheme on earth to disposses Palestinians off their lands. Not all of us subscribe to the AIPAC Journal of Peace.

  22. Submitted by Bill Siegel on 01/13/2009 - 12:50 pm.

    Raj, I understand your anger at the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Your point about the occupation is well founded but the method you choose to express yourself does nothing to further the discussion, it only incites anger and backlash.

  23. Submitted by michael goldner on 01/13/2009 - 01:09 pm.

    We hold no brief with the deplorable conditions in which the Palestinians have been forced to live. But the proximate cause of this tragedy is multi-national in origin. Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the other regional powers play for status quo or the outright destruction of israel. America is without real influence with Hamas or the people under their protection, and Europe abstains.

    But so long as the ultimate destruction of Israel IS the real goal (not even unstated) for so many in the region, neither Israel not the United States can stand by and permit that to happen.

    Israel has not always acted wisely, but they recognize that in all but the most horrendous of circumstances, they act alone. That being the case, how can we judge them?
    And for the record, i am not a subscriber to AIPAC or any of their publication. I do try to read La Monde, from time to time.

  24. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 01/13/2009 - 03:30 pm.

    A majority of the Arab states Saudi, Jordan, Egypt have lined up behind the Saudi Peace proposal. Of course rather than talking about that, what pro-Israeli apologists will do is use the same obfustication i.e. “they want to destroy Israel”

    This “destroy Israel” is nothing more than a canard used by Israel to avoid any meaningfull discusion. Why so. Because it then keep on expropriating land for its settlements. It also lets Israel avoid any discussion as to what exactly its borders are.

    Claims Hamas wants to “destroy Israel” (I wonder how) while blithely ignoring statements by Israeli politicians like Avigor Lieberman who advocates openly ethnic cleansing shows its just an excuse to avoid any discussion of Israels own deliberate policy of land expropriations against a civilian Palestinian populace.

  25. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 01/13/2009 - 03:41 pm.

    Bill Siegal

    I point to Israeli settlements all the time, to out the total hypocrisy of both America (my country) and Israel pretending that they are just doing all that they possibly can to come to a peace settlement with the Palestinians.

    One cannot have a normal discussion because most people just throw the AIPAC spin, “Oh Hamas wants to destroy Israel), while conveniently ignoring the fact that AIPAC has associated itself with many a character that has openly propogated the expropriation of Palestinian Lands.

    In our own Minnesota, the general counsel Mark Rotenberg (whos wife once ran AIPAC in MN i believe) spent about 6 mths fighting about the word terrorism. What hypocrisy from a supposed legal scholar when he puts his head in the sand to the Great Israeli Land Grab.

    I am sick of this one sided propoganda. I have no dog in this hunt, but it is time people challenge this propaganda.

  26. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 01/13/2009 - 04:04 pm.

    Since Michael Goldner reads La Monde from time to time, I think he missed this article in the Le Monde diplomatique titled

    “Gaza: why Israel wants to leave ” – December 2004

    “Israel’s prime minister Ariel Sharon is unilaterally evacuating the Gaza Strip of its few settlers to deflect the renewed international pressure on him to recognise a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

    “Dov Weisglass, permanent representative in Washington and right-hand man. Weisglass explained Sharon’s strategy in an interview with the newspaper Ha’aretz: “The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.” It freezes the peace process, as Weisglass bluntly admitted: “The peace process is the establishment of a Palestinian state . . . The peace process is the evacuation of settlements, it’s the return of refugees, it’s the partition of Jerusalem. And all that has now been frozen.””

    Look what was predicted ….

    “If the disengagement plan goes ahead without Palestinian involvement, Gaza will become the world’s largest prison, with the jailers abandoning the inside but guarding the gates”

    But of course people like Michael Goldner will keep spinning the story that the Gaza withdrawal was for peace.

  27. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 01/14/2009 - 10:42 am.

    Hamas was created to resist the illegal Israeli occupation. It is the ONLY defense available to its impoverished citizens and the ONLY source of social services. Without even invading Gaza, Israel has destroyed its ability to develop a self-sustaining economy — much less to restore its infrastructure.

    How can anyone dream for a moment that Hamas will ever have the ability to destroy Israel??? Especially without the $3 billion per year in military aid the U.S. gives Israel to “defend” itself by pre-emptively destroying those it fears.

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