Led by Kathleen McQuillen of the Des Moines office of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Iowa activists gathered in front of the Federal Building in Des Moines on Nov. 15 to protest Israel's deadly attack on the captive civilian population of Gaza. Following the rally outside, a smaller group delivered letters to the offices of Sens. Tom Harkin (D) and Charles Grassley (R).
A statement issued by the U.S. State Department asserting Israel's right to defend itself fails to address the real issue, said McQuillen. The roots of the current conflict are to be found in Israel's ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands, its failure to recognize the results of the 2006 Palestinian election, and the continued blockade of Gaza.
"As long as the U.S. continues to fund Israel's attacks, as long as the U.S. continues to provide diplomatic cover at the United Nations, and as long as the State Department, policymakers, and our senators say that Israel has a right to defend itself-without any acknowledgement or recognition of Palestinian rights to food, shelter, health care, freedom of movement and commerce-the U.S. position is really indefensible," she declared.
"Iowans are calling on their senators to push for a cease-fire and to push for a serious diplomatic effort to resolve the conflict. 'Equal rights for all' must be the new U.S. policy for the peoples of Israel and Palestine," concluded McQuillen.
"I'm here …