Traditionally, Members of Congress have shied away from criticizing Israel, but things are changing. Today, they are calling into questions Israeli policies more frequently -- from the demolition of Palestinian homes to the constitutionality of legislation that criminalizes the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.
On February 1, the Israeli Supreme Court approved the immediate demolition of property in the Palestinian village of Susya -- leaving dozens of Palestinians homeless.
Fearing that these actions will jeopardize a two-state solution, Senators Dianne Feinstein, Bernie Sanders and eight other senators called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to halt the demolition. Visiting Susya in October, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky voiced her strong opposition to the Israeli government's actions: “demolitions in villages like Susya are not helping Israel’s security – in fact they are a direct and grave threat to a viable two-state solution, and Israel’s safety.”
A UN High Commissioner for Human Rights report concluded that: “The violations of human rights associated with the settlements are pervasive and devastating, reaching every facet of Palestinian life.”
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced a House bill on Tuesday that seeks to prohibit U.S. tax dollars from funding the detention and prosecution of Palestinian children in the Israeli military court system. The legislation is said to be the first time a bill on Palestinian human rights has ever been introduced to Congress.
Defence of Children International (DCI), one of the main supporters of the bill, released a statement under its “No Way to Treat a Child” Campaign, calling for support of the bill.
“Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that automatically and systematically prosecutes children in military courts that lack fundamental fair trial rights and protections,” the statement reads, adding that Israel prosecutes between 500 and 700 Palestinian children in military courts each year.
According to data from Israel’s military courts obtained by Israeli daily Haartez in 2011, 99.74 of all military court hearings end in convictions.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) is asking Muslim-Americans to urge their Member of Congress to sponsor and support Congresswoman McCollum’s bill.