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Why Congress Ignores Pro-Palestinian Activists

Juan Cole has a typically conspiratorial theory for explaining why congressmen have ignored the pro-Palestinian marches that occurred in a handful of American cities this past weekend:

The US Senate and the US House of Representatives are not afraid of street protests in San Francisco. And why should they be? What sort of threat is it to them, that we say if they don’t change their legislation we will . . . walk in the street? Their response would be, ‘Make sure you have comfortable shoes; now, I have to see this nice lobbyist in my office in a thousand dollar suit and alligator shoes who has an enormous check for my current political campaign.’

Well, I have an alternative to Cole’s thesis: maybe it’s not the slimy pro-Israel lobbyists – who are so rich that they practically wear money – that pro-Palestinian activists should blame for not being heard.  Rather, maybe the problem is the pro-Palestinian activists themselves.

Indeed, maybe congressmen ignore pro-Palestinian rallies because the ANSWER Coalition – an offshoot of the communist World Workers Party (WWP) – organizes them.  Maybe congressmen know that the WWP – a longtime supporter of Fidel Castro and Kim Jong-Il – actively protested Slobodan Milosevic’s war crimes tribunal, and therefore feel uncomfortable associating with it.

Or, maybe congressmen stay away because these rallies are just as anti-American as they are pro-Palestinian, with banners declaring the U.S. “racist” and “terrorist.”  Or maybe it’s because congressmen don’t want to march with protesters who cover their faces, which is something that only truly nefarious groups do in this country.  Or maybe it’s because congressmen don’t want to be around people who burn flags; haul mock coffins; splatter clotheslines of baby t-shirts with fake blood; and never – never – advocate for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Of course, these issues are just the tip of the iceberg.  But, if pro-Palestinian activists really want to know why their cries fall on deaf ears in Washington, they should start by looking in the mirror.  Politicians are, after all, deeply image-conscious: they are unlikely to march alongside people who appear immoderate, and certainly won’t give much weight to rallies that communist-affiliated groups organize.  It’s strange that Juan Cole – who claims political expertise with his regular treatises on the remarkable influence of “Likudniks” – doesn’t recognize this most basic political reality.

(By the way, the images of pro-Palestinian activists that I linked to in this post were from the recent demonstration in San Francisco.)


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