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Illinois MP denounces Iron Dome funding and “theft” of Sheikh Jarrah’s homes

CHICAGO: Illinois Congresswoman Marie Newman told voters on Sunday that they “can make a difference” by bolstering US support for Palestinian rights and curbing excessive demands for funding from Israel.

Newman was one of nine members of the House of Representatives to vote last week against a bill giving Israel $ 1 billion to purchase more short-range missiles for its Iron Dome defense system.

Speaking at the Palestine American Club in the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview, Newman urged Americans to target donors who give hundreds of millions of dollars to 100 Senate members as a means to force change.

“Start talking to senators. Remember that in Congress, in the House of Representatives, we only have the purse with which we can deal. We (members of Congress) can only say yes or no to money, ”Newman explained, noting that the House deals with funding while the Senate and administration deals with politics.

“So that’s why the Iron Dome vote is important, isn’t it?” That is, ‘No, Israel. You can’t have another billion dollars. What we need to do is start talking to the people who are actually making the policies. “

Congress voted on September 23 to separate Israel’s Iron Dome vote from the larger, blocked vote to fund US news. The United States is already giving Israel $ 500 million a year for the missile defense system under an agreement signed by President Barack Obama in 2016.

Arab Americans have denounced Congress for removing the Iron Dome funding vote from the larger spending bill that remains stuck in partisan political wrangling. Another overtaking attempt may not take place until Thursday.

“Instead of passing a bill to meet the immediate and critical needs of the American people in the broader spending bill, Congress put Israel above the American people and cut funding for the Iron Dome so Israel doesn’t have to wait like American taxpayers wait and suffer, ”said Hassan Nijem, president of the Arab American Chamber of Commerce in Chicagoland, which co-sponsored Newman’s appearance.

“It’s a shame when 420 members of Congress vote so quickly to give Israel, a foreign country, $ 1 billion. But they can’t seem to find the time or the courage to help American citizens overcome their challenges. “

Newman was among nine members of Congress who voted against the appropriation of the Iron Dome. The nine were immediately attacked by Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, on Monday, who said they were “ignorant or anti-Semitic.”

Newman did not address Erdan’s personal attacks and instead focused on how American citizens can get their government to re-prioritize spending to meet their needs.

She said activists must focus on the corporations, businesses and individuals who donate hundreds of millions of dollars to members of the Senate who are charged with defining the so far failed U.S. political efforts to bring peace to the United States. Middle East.

“So you have to start talking to their donors and you have to start making it clear to them that this is an important humanitarian issue, and that everyone is safer in the region when Palestine is safe. and free and able to move, and to be healthy and prosperous. – everyone will be happier, ”Newman said.

Newman said she was also working to strengthen communications between Arab and Muslim Americans and the staff of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, announcing the establishment of an Arab and Muslim American Council in District 3.

“We have to start talking to senators and we have to start talking to the administration.”

Newman also spoke of the continuing human rights “crisis” in Sheikh Jarrah in the occupied West Bank city of East Jerusalem, where Israel takes homes and property from Christian and Muslim civilians and gives them to Jewish settler organizations.

“I always like to be very clear that this is house theft. When you steal someone’s house and fall victim to it, it is called home theft. It’s not here in Chicago. It is not fair in Palestine. It’s not fair in Montreal. It’s not fair in Hong Kong, ”Newman said.

“So we drafted a letter that would usually only be signed by seven, eight or nine members of Congress. But because my team is amazing and I decided to do a lot of outreach and be very tenacious, we had 25 members of Congress who signed the letter.

Most of Newman’s remarks touched on the needs of the 3rd Congressional District, explaining that she supports an infrastructure bill that would provide economic and educational support to families hit hard by the nearly two-year pandemic.

“Roads and bridges create a lot of jobs. On the human infrastructure side of the package, this will bring paid vacation, universal childcare, two years of free community college for young people, middle-aged people or our elders who want to go back to school, ”he added. she declared.

The deadlocked spending bill in the House would increase deductions for small businesses and reduce taxes by 5% to 10%. She also said the spending bill provides funding to improve the country’s infrastructure to improve the environment and help Americans facing financial and health challenges.

A first-term congressman, Newman was elected to represent the 3rd Congressional District in November 2020. The district has been democrat-owned since 1975 and is a majority Democrat. It has been ranked as having the eighth Arab-American population of 50 US Congressional districts by the New York Times, and the highest concentration of Palestinian-American voters.

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