Ray Hanania’s Column
Last November, a prominent Chicago Arab business association hosted a reception to honor the US Senator from Illinois, Peter Fitzgerald.
The event was a tremendous success and allowed Fitzgerald to officially meet key leaders in the state’s Arab American community.
Later, at a dinner organized to honor the late Chicago activist Dr. Hassan Abdallah and launch a scholarship fund in his honor, Arab American organizers circulated a letter they sent to Senator Fitzgerald urging him to speak out in defense of Palestinian civilians who were being murdered by Israel’s military campaign of oppression.
Fitzgerald told attendees at the business dinner he understood their concerns and emphasized that he was dedicated to achieving peace that was fair to both Israel and the Palestinians. The follow up letter from the hundreds of community residents who signed it, was intended to follow up on what they presumed were Senator Fitzgerald’s honorable intentions.
But what Senator Fitzgerald didn’t tell the Arab community in person, though, he did write down down in a two-page letter that he had his staff mail. The letter was received not only by all of the attendees at the business dinner, but also to the several hundred people who signed the letter circulated by Arab activists seeking his support to stop the killings.
Something happened, though. Apparently, Fitzgerald never bothered to read the letter the activists sent him. But, he must have recognized the word “Israel”.
Apparently, a staff person, working under the Senator’s direction, collected the names and addresses of the Arab signators so that the Senator could send them a letter bragging about all the things he has done to achieve Middle East peace.
Here is what the Jan. 26, 2001 letter that Senator Peter Fitzgerald sent to the Arab community boasts:
Fitzgerald said he led a drive to force President Clinton to condemn “the Palestinian campaign of violence”.
Fitzgerald also said he sponsored not one but two bills in the US Senate to prohibit the United States from providing any funds, including humanitarian aid to help victims of Israeli violence, to the Palestinians should the PNA decide to “unilaterally” declare a Palestinian state.
And just to add muscle to the bills, co-sponsored by notorious anti-Arab hater Senator Diane “the Arab basher” Feinstein, the resolution threatened that the US would also withhold any funds to any government that provides money to the “unilaterally declared” Palestinian state.
Oh, but that is not all that Senator Fitzgerald proudly boasted in his two-page letter dated Jan. 26 detailng what he has done to achieve Middle East peace.
Senator Fitzgerald said that he also sponsored a resolution demanding the International Red Cross immediately recognize the Israeli Magen David Adom Society. The Magen David Odem is the religiously racist organization that provides medical service to Jewish Israelis but denies any medical treatment to non-Jewish Palestinians.
The Red Cross has refused to admit the Magen David (as Senator Fitzgerald failed to point out) because the Magen David, besides discriminating against emergency victims on the basis of religion, also refuses to recognize the International Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions are the guidelines that all other civilized societies recognize and that clearly demand that Israel refrain from stealing lands it occupies from Arab civilians, as it has done as a formal policy since its creation in 1948.
But his hypocrisy on the Geneva Conventions not withstanding, Senator Fitzgerald doesn’t stop there.
No, Senator Fitzgerald also demanded that the United States relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a city that has been under Israeli occupation since 1948, illegally and against all international sanctions, including the United Nations which gave Israel its recognition that same year. That occupation is also a violation of the Geneva Conventions.
Fitzgerald’s letter is nothing new. We’ve seen bigoted hateful letters like this before, but usually they come from the fanatic terrorists in the Israeli settler movement.
Usually, a Senator who claims to be in support of Middle East peace will be fair and objective, and not only criticize one side, the Palestinians, but the Israelis, too. Sure, they play both sides, offering each strong words of support.
Senator Fitzgerald made one critical mistake with this letter, something that does not often happen.
Instead of sending this letter to Jewish constituents who would accept his anti-Semitic anti-Arab hatred without a hiccup, he sent it to the Arab Americans who hosted him in November and who pleaded with him to intervene and help stop Israel from killing more innocent Palestinian civilians.
Certainly, Senator Fitzgerald did not mean for the Arab community to see how he really felt about peace and justice in the Middle East. His dishonesty, however, has been exposed by his own hand.
Since the “Aqsa Intifadah” began in September, more than 500 Palestinian civilians have been murdered by Israeli soldiers. In comparison, about 50 Israelis, mostly heavily armed professional soldiers, have died. Fitzgerald expressed sympathy to the Arab community when they were hosting him, but quickly offered the truth in his letter of January 26, 2001.
This kind of duplicity is typical of the kind of hypocrisy that is endemic in the corrupt American political system. Politicians always lie. But they rarely lie and then provide evidence of the contradictory truth. They like to tell each side what they want to hear.
Sadly, even though it is a “mistake” on Fitzgerald’s part, it is typical of what most American politicians are prepared to do — whore themselves out for votes and money.
With friends like you, Senator, who needs enemies?
(Ray Hanania is a Palestinian American writer based in Chicago and a regular contributor to MMN. His columns are archived on the web at www.hanania.com)