Representative Keith Ellison is holding a public forum, entitled “The Struggle for Israeli – Palestinian Peace” on April 8, 2010 from 6-8 pm at the Zuhrah Shrine Temple, 2450 Park Avenue South, Minneapolis. Guest speakers include a bereaved Gazan doctor who worked in Israeli hospitals, a member of the Israeli military from the politically moderate pro-Israel lobbying organization J-Street, and a Palestinian-American who worked within the official structures of the post-Oslo peace process. Ellison has promised to open his event to comments from the audience after presentations by the speakers, with comments limited to 60 seconds per participant.
Although we appreciate Ellison’s initiative in advancing this important public discussion, it is important to recognize that neither Ellison nor his invited speakers call for ending direct U.S. military and economic support for the Israeli government as it continues atrocities against Palestinians. Congress grants approximately $2.5 billion in aid to Israel each year, and Ellison has voted in favor of all these bills since he has been in office. The money that Ellison supports directly buys weapons that Israel has used and continues to use to attack the civilian population in Gaza and the West Bank, and provide further economic support for Israel’s policies of apartheid and ethnic cleansing.
The Coalition for Palestinian Rights urges member organizations and supporters to attend this forum to demonstrate the large numbers of constituents who are in solidarity with the Palestinians, and to specifically demand that Representative Ellison back up his claim to support peace by immediately calling on Congress to cease U.S. financial and military support for Israel’s war and oppression against the Palestinians. While everyone is free to choose how to express their views, we recommend focusing on the theme of U.S. aid to Israel because it represents Congress’ most significant involvement. We believe Ellison should hear a unified demand from the peace and justice movement to finally take a significant and meaningful position in support of justice.
It may be advisable to prepare statements ahead of time since Ellison is limiting comments to one minute. In order to help us keep track of our speakers, we ask you to notify us if you plan to speak by contacting Sarah Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-437-0222.