By Rachelle Lyndaker-Schlabach
“We don’t hear very much from our constituents giving us the message you have,” congressional staff members sometimes tell MCC Washington staff in meetings on Palestine-Israel. Advocacy on this issue is needed more than ever in the coming year.
The U.S. strongly supported Israel during November’s “Operation Pillar of Defense,” which caused great destruction in Gaza. The U.S. is also likely to increase funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system.
In November Palestine officially became a “non-member observer state” at the United Nations, a move that was opposed by the U.S. delegation. In the new Congress efforts to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority and to UN entities are likely as a response to the UN move.
Israel responded to the UN vote by announcing plans for settlement construction east of Jerusalem, further obstructing any hope of a viable Palestinian state. While the U.S. administration called the move counterproductive, some Members of Congress expressed apathy or even approval.
In October MCC U.S. joined 14 other Christian organizations in a letter to Congress, calling for a review of the more than $3 billion per year in military assistance given to Israel and asking that efforts be redoubled to find a sustainable, just resolution to the conflict.
Throughout the year the MCC Washington Office also hosted several returned learning tour groups, as well as MCC Middle East staff, for congressional visits on Palestine-Israel. Sign up for Middle East action alerts and add your voice to theirs in 2013.