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Senator Schumer and Collective Punishment

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Senator Charles Schumer recently took to the airwaves to express his stern disapproval of President Obama's handling of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. During the interview, Schumer boasted of his threats to the president, saying "I called up Rahm Emanuel and I called up the White House and I said, 'If you don't retract that statement you are going to hear me publicly blast you on this.' Of course they did retract it." Politico's Ben Smith has the entire transcript of the program herehttp://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0410/Schumer_Obamas_Counterproductive_Israel_policy_has_to_stop.html?showall.

The interview offers a fascinating look into the way Senate Zionists manipulate the president's policy in the region. For instance, Schumer states:

Now what's happened, and many of us are pushing back, some of the Jewish members will be meeting with the President next week or the week after, and we are saying that this has to stop. You have to have, in terms of the negotiations, you have to show Israel that it's not going to be forced to do things it doesn't want to do and can't do.

The senator from New York goes on to state that his role in the senate is to be "a shomer (guardian) for Israel." Presumably, he also acts as a shomer for the state of New York.

The most extraordinary portion of the interview is Schumer's forthright admission that he supports the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip and the collective punishment of its 1.5 million destitute residents, the majority of whom are under 18 years old. He tells the interviewer that "Israel has blocked off the border and not let anything into Gaza, and I support Israel in doing that, and it may be tough on the Palestinian people, but when they vote for Hamas they are going to have to suffer the consequences."

Collective punishment directly contravenes Article 33 of the http://www.icrc.org/IHL.nsf/COM/380-600168?OpenDocumentFourth Geneva Convention, and is identified a war crime. At present, Israel prevents the Palestinians in Gaza from traveling, importing and exporting goods (which is vital to the economy there), rebuilding their homes (by preventing access to raw materials), and carrying on normal life. The siege is a direct result of Palestinian elections in 2006 which resulted in the election of Hamas parliamentarians. Significantly, http://www.cartercenter.org/news/documents/doc2287.html President Carter and the Carter Center verified that the elections were free and fair.

Schumer's morally bankrupt support for the collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza is especially alarming because it further erodes American moral credibility in the region. It also incites anger against Americans for perceived hypocrisy, potentially increasing the danger to American troops in nearby Iraq and Afghanistan. General Petraeus recently http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/03/petraeus-vs-netanyahu.html said as much in a briefing to Admiral Mullen about the dangers to American interests in the Middle East. I sincerely hope that President Obama will respond to his generals in his role as America's shomer.