Intro Letter for Lobbying Day


On Monday, June 11, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, United for Peace and Justice, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee are jointly organizing a grassroots lobbying day for peace in the Middle East. The meetings with the Members of Congress and their aides will be an important follow-up to the rally and march on June 10th, an opportunity to bring our message directly to those who represent us.

There has been a lot of discussion about the focus of the lobbying efforts on June 11th. The fact that four organizations, two of which are coalitions themselves, are working together on this lobby day means there are differences about what issue or issues need the most attention. What we know is that it is critical that we work together, and that in fact all of these issues are tied to one another. Some focus most directly on the Israeli Occupation of the Palestinian territories, some address issues in this country that greatly affect the Arab American and Muslim communities, some focus on the war in Iraq. While it might appear that this is a series of unrelated issues, we believe they are connected and, when taken together, begin to articulate what a new set of U.S. policies could look like. With that perspective we have agreed to offer information about this range of legislative initiatives, all of which are important.

Each group or delegation that meets with people on Capitol Hill will decide which of these they most want to focus on. You, and the people in your meeting, are not required to raise all of these issues. In fact, given the reality that most lobby visits are pretty short you will want to focus on the issues and legislative initiatives that mean the most to you. And this can certainly be done without denying others the chance to raise the issues most important to them. There will be time during the Monday morning training for people to talk and decide how you want to handle your lobby visits: how you want to use the time you have for the meeting, which issues you will focus on, who will make opening remarks, etc.

We call your attention to one item in particular: HRES 143 which calls for the appointment of a Special Envoy for Middle East Peace. No, we do not believe that the Bush Administration can be trusted to handle this the way it should be handled, and no, we do not believe this will solve all of the problems in the Middle East. What we do believe is that it is in our nationís best interest to promote peace and dialogue in the Middle East. For the past several years, the United States has neglected its diplomatic efforts toward ending the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and it is imperative that we act as an honest broker and uphold international law while working toward a lasting peace. This legislation is the only thing on the table at this moment that even addresses this concept, and as such we believe it needs to be supported. If we view this not as the end of the process but rather as an opening it starts to make sense.  Discussing this resolution will also allow your delegation a chance to talk about what is wrong with our current policy toward Israel/Palestine and what has made previous U.S. diplomatic attempts unsuccessful, such as the unconditional diplomatic support for Israel in violation of dozens of UN resolutions, the billions of dollars in military and economic aid that the United States provides yearly for Israelís military occupation, the unwillingness of the United States to hold Israel accountable for its human rights violations under the terms of the Foreign Assistance Act and Arms Export Control Act, etc.

Changing the thinking and actions of those who represent us in Congress is not a quick or easy undertaking. The June 11th lobby day can help move this process along, but it will take a lot more work in the weeks and months ahead before we see real change. We hope your participation in the lobby day will be a positive experience and will encourage you to keep doing this work, keep educating Congress.