Bullshit Philosophy

Half-assed political and religious commentary from a cynical left-winger

Statement from Peter Welch on Gaza

Posted by Kevin on January 6, 2009

[Update I: Various edits made to this post.]

[Update II (1/10/09): In a surprise to absolutely no one, both houses of Congress this week passed resolutions voicing absolute support of Israel in its attack on Gaza. According to the roll call, Peter Welch voted for the House version (it passed by a voice vote in the Senate, so there’s no record of who did and didn’t vote for it). The text of the resolution contradicts even Welch’s milquetoast position below, making me wonder didn’t vote present if nothing else. The most likely explanation in my opinion is that he didn’t think about it much and just voted how Nancy Pelosi told him to vote, which from what I hear is pretty common with Welch. He’s not exactly known for his courage.]

Today I received an email from Rep. Peter Welch’s (D-VT) office on Israel’s attack on Gaza:

I have long supported a two-state solution as the only viable path to peace in the Middle East. The renewed violence in Gaza only sets back the prospects of achieving the two-state solution and, with it, lasting peace. It also intensifies the suffering of the people living there.

I support an immediate cease fire – and end to rocket attacks targeting Israelis and an end to Israeli military action in Gaza – and a return to the negotiating table. I also support the free passage of international relief convoys into Gaza to provide humanitarian assistance and relief to the population.

The human tragedy that is occurring in Gaza will only end when both sides recognize that their peace and prosperity will not be achieved through acts of violence, but through negotiation.

This pretty much illustrates the problems I noted in my report on the Burlington protest. It’s good that Welch supports a ceasefire, but once again there’s the false equivalency and the unwillingness to blame anyone for the crisis, and no mention of the blockade. I don’t get the impression from this statement that he’s put a whole lot of thought into the issue or feels a lot of engagement with it.

Another thing that bugged me about his statement, as with Leahy and Sanders, was the lack of any mention of concrete actions they’ve taken or are willing to take to bring about a ceasefire. They all “support” a ceasefire but won’t necessarily do anything to actually get one. Remember, one of the oldest tricks in politics is to support something in principle but oppose its implementation every step of the way.

As I’ve said previously, positions like Welch’s are an improvement over those of all too many other Democrats. Sadly, though, this sort of position is probably the best we’re going to get from the Democratic Party without some sort of massive grassroots pressure that doesn’t seem to be forthcoming. Although the latest polling data (via Glenn Greenwald) shows that Democratic voters overwhelmingly oppose Israel’s attack on Gaza, to my knowledge it hasn’t translated into widespread criticism of the Democratic leadership. This issue just isn’t a priority for many progressives.


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