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Senate and House Doves Attend Israeli Settler Pep Rally On Capitol Hill

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What a strange coincidence. On the very day the House was voting on the anti-Goldstone resolution, a far-right Israel group was meeting on the Hill to discuss how "to protect the rights of Jews to live in designated areas in Judea and Samaria (the 'West Bank') and all of Jerusalem."

That discussion topic alone gives away the conference's far-right, pro-settler agenda. Not only does it call the West Bank "Judea and Samaraia" (the term used for the West Bank only by pro-settler Israelis), it then mentions the term West Bank but puts quotation marks around it i.e., the so-called West Bank.

Here is the program for the conference, which is unambiguously dedicated to preserving Israel, the West Bank and Jerusalem (all of it) as the undivided Jewish state.

Of course, Israel's Ambassador Michael Oren (who boycotted J Street) was a panelist at the conference. Other "usual suspects" on the panels were Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS), Jon Kyl (R-AZ) Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). In each case, their far right positions on Israel comport with their general stance toward the world.

But also in attendance were Senator Joe Lieberman (no surprise there), Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA), Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV).

What are these legislators thinking? The Jerusalem conference is dedicated, in its own words, "to the promotion of Jewish heritage and values and to Israel's future as a viable, modern, democratic (democratic? Not if Israel keeps East Jerusalem and the West Bank) and Jewish state. The setting for the annual conference -- Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem -- underscores the Conference's devotion to Israel's capital city."

Why precisely would an American legislator attend such a conference? This is not a pro-Israel conference but a pro-occupation conference, an occupation the United States and the rest of the world deems illegal. And it is opposed by half of Israel.

American legislators do not belong there, especially those who rightly criticize American policies (like the Iraq war) which are cut from the same cloth as Israel's current policies. It's hard to imagine these Democrats joining with Inhofe and Kyl on any other issue. That might be a tip off that they don't belong at this conference either. Needless to say, neither do the Republicans. This is a right-wing conference for right-wing Israelis, not Americans -- no matter that it is held, for some reason, in the US Capitol. If the Israeli government wants to implement policies that will prevent peace (and harm US interests along with theirs) they don't need American legislators to be shouting "hooray."