December 2010, Pages 59-60

Waging Peace

New Policy PAC Raises $12,000 for Congresswoman Donna Edwards

Sama Adnan (l) and Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD). (Staff photo D. Hanley)

Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-4th District, MD) took some heat from the Washington Jewish Week and pro-Israel lobbies, including J Street, for attending an Oct. 16 luncheon hosted by New Policy PAC at the Washington Sheraton North Hotel in Beltsville, Maryland. Before introducing Edwards to the enthusiastic audience, NewPolicy.org founder Sama Adnan described his new political action committee that funds campaigns of congressional candidates committed to the cause of peace.

NewPolicy.org encourages citizens, lawmakers and administration officials to implement long-standing American positions on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and advocates for a peaceful and just resolution of the conflict in the interest of enhancing American security, Adnan said. NewPolicy.org is working with members of Congress to enact legislation to end the Gaza siege, freeze Jewish settlements and establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel. It takes no position on whether a negotiated end to the conflict should result in a two-state or one-state solution. "As American citizens concerned for America's interests and long-term security, we do not pretend to know what's the right solution for the Israelis and Palestinians," Adnan said. "However, we do proclaim our right to protest our taxpayer money going into supporting the Israeli occupation, Jewish settlements or any illegal activity by the Israeli government."

Edwards earned 2010 "Hall of Fame" status in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, by voting against H. Res. 34 "recognizing Israel's right to defend itself" during Israel's 2008-09 assault on Gaza. She also voted against H. Res. 867, calling on President Barack Obama to "stop any further consideration" of the U.N. Human Rights Council-commissioned Goldstone Report. (See Sept./Oct. 2010 Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, pp. 25-37, for the complete congressional scorecard or visit <www.wrmea.org/pdf/111th_congress_voting_records.pdf>.)

"As many of you know already," Edwards told her audience, which included a representative from J Street, "my attendance here today has caused quite a stir within the Jewish community and on the blogosphere." She proudly stated that she "has been involved in issues of Israel/Palestine and peace in the Middle East for over 15 years. My position in support of a two-state solution is clear and has always been so."

In June 2009 Edwards visited Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza with her colleagues Reps. Brian Baird (D-WA) and Peter Welch (D-VT). "I am more committed now than ever before to the belief that we have no hope of achieving peace unless everyone—everyone—is willing to at a minimum engage in open and honest debate and discussion of these complex issues that have perplexed generations before us. That debate must take place internationally and domestically," Edwards emphasized.

"Some have acted deliberately to interfere with the slim hopes for peace—they should be condemned," she continued. "Some have posited that peace in the Middle East will never be achieved—they should be ignored. Others have speculated as to the motives and motivations of the various parties and leaders—they should be discouraged. I am not one of those naysayers. Despite the current challenges, I am more hopeful than ever before that two states will be realized in the context of the current negotiations."

Describing "the incredible range of dialogue that occurs in Israel on issues of peace and security—a breadth of dialogue that we need desperately in the United States," Edwards said she was disturbed and disappointed by the "effort to chill my thoughts, perhaps to censor my words, or perhaps to even discourage me from speaking to you at all."

Too often, Americans take an over-simplified approach and see this conflict as black and white, Edwards said. "In a mature democracy, it is critical that we take great lengths to maintain an open, honest, and respectful dialogue even with those with whom we have disagreements in policy or philosophy."

Edwards concluded by promising to continue her efforts to encourage open debate and discussion, and called for voters to turn out on Election Day. For more information visit <www.newpolicy.org>

Delinda C. Hanley

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