Robert Naiman, Chelsea Mozen, Sarah Burns and Megan Iorio / Just Foreign Policy – 2013-03-04 21:31:32
(February 28, 2013) — On Tuesday, after overcoming months of smears, hysterical rhetoric, and procedural obstruction, Chuck Hagel was confirmed as our next Secretary of Defense. We hope Secretary Hagel will help speed the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan, help avoid war with Iran, and help cut the Pentagon budget, as groups who supported his nomination expect.
But one thing is in the bag: we showed that in Congress we could beat the Likud Lobby — the group of people in Washington that drove the opposition to Hagel’s nomination.  This faction says that “unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you’re anti-Israel,” as Barack Obama characterized their claims in 2008. 
Now the Likud Lobby is pressing the Senate to endorse an Israeli military attack on Iran. If the U.S. were to support such an attack, it would likely draw us into war.
If we could beat the Likud Lobby on Hagel, we can beat them on this.
Urge your Senators to oppose the AIPAC “backdoor to war” bill and to take steps towards peace with Iran and Palestine.
AIPAC is holding its annual policy conference next week, during which hundreds of pro-Likud activists will descend on Congress to push your representatives to support war with Iran and a continuation of the status-quo between Israel and Palestine.
Here are three things you can ask your reps to do to promote peace instead:
1. Urge your Senators to oppose the Graham bill endorsing an Israeli attack on Iran.
Senator Lindsey Graham is introducing a bill that says that if Israel attacks Iran, the U.S. should support Israel militarily and diplomatically.  JTA reports that winning Congressional support for this bill will be a focus of AIPAC’s policy conference next week.  Urge your Senators to oppose this bill and to insist that the language endorsing an Israeli attack on Iran be removed.
2. Urge your Representative to support Barbara Lee’s bill to appoint a Special Envoy to Iran.
Representative Barbara Lee recently introduced a bill that would direct the President to appoint a Special Envoy to Iran to advance diplomacy.  The bill calls for eliminating the State Departmentâ€™s “no contact” policy that prevents State Department officers and employees from making any direct contact with Iranian counterparts.
3. If we can get many cosponsors on this bill, it will show the White House that there’s significant support in Congress for serious diplomatic engagement with Iran.
Right now, the Likud Lobby is pushing Congress to enact even more sanctions on Iran, while the existing sanctions are already so strong that they’re blocking Iranian civilians from getting lifesaving medicines in violation of international humanitarian law.  It’s likely that movement on the diplomatic front is the only thing that can stop the sanctions train.
4. Urge President Obama and Congress to visit Bilin and Budrus, and learn what life is like for Palestinian civilians living under Israeli military occupation.
President Obama is going to visit Israel next month. He’ll also be visiting Palestine. Where will he go? If the President and other members of Congress who travel to Israel were to visit Bilin or Budrus — two Palestinian villages that have been the site of weekly nonviolent protests against the confiscation of Palestinian land by the Israeli authorities — it would call attention to the real stakes of Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank.
There’s also another, incredibly easy way for your representatives to acquaint themselves with the situation in the West Bank: watch 5 Broken Cameras and Budrus, two internationally-acclaimed documentaries about Bilin and Budrus both of which are available on Netflix streaming. 
We’ve made it easy for you to act on all three of these asks: just go to the link below to email President Obama and Congress!
Thank you for all you do to help bring about a more just foreign policy,
1. “23,000 to Lindsey Graham: No Foul to Use A-Word on Israel-Palestine,” Robert Naiman, Huffington Post, February 25, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/23000-to-lindsey-graham-n_b_2759577.html
2. “Obama fights for Jewish votes in Ohio,” Ron Kampeas, JTA, February 25, 2008, http://www.jta.org/news/article/2008/02/25/107184/ratnermoresky
3. You can read the full text of the bill here: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/sites/default/files/AIPAC_Back_Door_To_War.pdf
4. “No Obama or Bibi, but AIPAC conf. still looking to make noise,â€ Ron Kampeas, JTA, February 26, 2013, http://www.jta.org/news/article/2013/02/26/3120526/aipac-conference-to-seek-major-strategic-ally-role-for-israel
5. “Congresswoman Barbara Lee Calls for Special Envoy to Iran, Introduces Legislation,” Office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Feb 15, 2013, http://lee.house.gov/press-release/congresswoman-barbara-lee-calls-special-envoy-iran-introduces-legislation. The text of the bill can be found here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c113:H.R.783:
6. “Iran unable to get life-saving drugs due to international sanctions,” Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Guardian, January 13, 2013, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/13/iran-lifesaving-drugs-international-sanctions
7. 5 Broken Cameras, http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/5_Broken_Cameras/70229917; Budrus, http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Budrus/70132694
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