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Is Pasta a Weapon? Ask the State Department for an Answer.

March 4th, 2009

Email or text Sec. of State Clinton by clicking here.

Lately, the State Department has beenÖumÖfumbling for the right words to describe Israelís illegal blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip.

Just look at this ludicrous exchange (below) between a reporter and State Department spokesperson Robert Wood at a press briefing last week

Discussing whether pasta is a dual-use weapon might be funny were it not for the fact that Israelís illegal blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip is barely keeping 1.5 million people at survival levels.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged $900 million in U.S. aid at the International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza.

At first glance, this pledge seems fair given that U.S. military aid to Israel was responsible for the destruction of an estimated $2 billion in Palestinian civilian infrastructure.

But, look closer at the pledge, and youíll find that not one dollar is devoted to the reconstruction of the occupied Gaza Strip. Instead, the money, if approved by Congress, will go towards humanitarian aid ($300 million), budgetary support for the Palestinian Authority ($200 million), and economic and institutional reforms in the West Bank ($400 million). For details on the pledge package, please click here.

Worse yet, in her speech to the donorís conference, Clinton made no mention of ending Israelís illegal military occupation of the Gaza Strip or lifting Israelís illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip. For the text of her remarks, please click here.


1. Contact Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by text or email by clicking here.

While traveling in the Middle East and Europe through Saturday, Clinton will be taking questions from the public. Ask your question by clicking here.

Here are some suggested questions for the Secretary of State, or write your own:

* UN Security Council Resolution 1860 ď
Calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment.Ē What are you doing to ensure that Israel complies with this resolution?

* President Obama stated that ďGaza
's border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce
What are you doing to end Israelís illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip?

* Rep. Dennis Kucinich has requested that the State Department investigate Israelís possible violations of the Arms Export Control Act during its recent war on Gaza. Could you please state what your department is doing to ensure that this investigation is conducted in an accurate and transparent manner?

* State Department spokesperson Robert Wood was unclear if the United States Could you state your opinion on whether Israel
should be allowed to control what types of food Palestinians in the Gaza Strip eat?

2. Join our campaign to challenge military aid to Israel. Since February 2008, we have sent more than 1,000 organizing packets to people and organizations all over the country to educate and mobilize people in their communities to challenge military aid to Israel. Check out our Google map below showing the locations where people are organizing.

View Larger Map

Sign up today as a volunteer organizer with us and weíll send you an organizing packet complete with postcards, petitions, and fact sheets.

Sign up today!

3. Learn more about U.S. military aid to Israel and its dire impact on Palestinians. Watch our recent Capitol Hill policy briefing, ďArmed and Dangerous: Weapons Transfers to Israel during the Bush Administration,Ē and download a PowerPoint presentation on the topic by clicking here.

Also, be sure to read Amnesty Internationalís report, ďFueling Conflict: Foreign Arms Supplies to Israel/Gaza,Ē released on February 23. In the report, Amnesty International details the role U.S. weapons played in Israelís recent war on the occupied Gaza Strip and calls for an arms embargo.

Finally, check out this Huffington Post article by Robert Naiman of Just Foreign Policy, entitled, ďConditioning Part of U.S. Aid to Israel on Implementation of U.S. Policy.Ē

4. Make a tax-deductible contribution to support this work. If you value the work that we do to challenge U.S. military aid to Israel, then please consider making a generous one-time contribution or join our Olive Branch Club and make a recurring monthly donation.

From State Department Daily Press Briefing

February 25, 2009

For the complete transcript and video, please click here.

QUESTION: But can you imagine any circumstance under which pasta could be considered a dual-use item? Or is there some -- you know, is rigatoni somehow going to be used as a weapon? (Laughter.)

Iím not involved in those discussions, so I Ė

Well, I mean -- I mean, it just seems to be absurd on the face of it, if thatís what happening.

Well, there are people on the ground who are dealing with these issues. And I think we should leave it --

Dealing with the pasta dual-use issue?

Yeah, can you take a question on the pasta, please?

Iím not going to take the question on the pasta --


MR. WOOD: --
because itís Ė

Well, the United States is obviously pushing it, so obviously itís something --

Weíre trying to get humanitarian supplies in Ė on the ground to the people in Gaza.

Do you think food is a humanitarian supply?

Food certainly is.

All kinds of food?

: I Ė Iím not able to tell you from here whether it Ė

Can you get a Ė can you take the question of what kind of food that the U.S. thinks is a humanitarian supply?

Iím not going to take that question, because I donít think itís a legitimate question.

You donít think itís legitimate that the Palestinians need certain foods and is Ė should Israel decide what food the Palestinians need?

Iím sorry, Elise, Iím not going to Ė Iíve spoken on it.