Monday, June 21, 2021

A report on a phone meeting with Rep. Sarbanes' aide


  On Wednesday, June 16 I had a conversation with Sheyla Marimon, an aide to my representative John Sarbanes from Maryland’s 3rd District. The meeting came about after I emailed her a copy of a letter initiated by Progressive Democrats of America.

  I raised two issues in the letter.  First, I asked Rep. Sarbanes to co-sponsor Rep. Betty McCollum’s Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act (HR 2590). This legislation will “prohibit Israel from using U.S. taxpayer dollars on the military detention, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention; to support the seizure and destruction of Palestinian property and homes in violation of international humanitarian law; or on any support or assistance for Israel’s unilateral annexation of Palestinian territory in violation of international humanitarian law.” 

  I pointed out that I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana which borders on South Africa.  At that time apartheid was the order of the day in South Africa.  While I was boycotting apartheid South Africa, I had to travel there a few times for my job, and saw the illegitimacy of white-minority rule.  Co-incidentally, I took part in a human rights delegation to the occupied territories organized by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in 1987.  And I saw the Israeli version of apartheid.  I was able to go to both the West Bank and to the Gaza Strip.  Today the situation there is much worse as reported in the recent Human Rights Watch report A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution.

Ms. Marimon indicated that her boss was quite aware of the plight of the Palestinians.  And she was frank that the Congressperson would not co-sponsor HR 2590.  She did tell that the previous day she did meet with  group also asking for support for McCollum’s legislation.

 I informed Sheyla that Ron Dellums in 1972 introduced the first bill to divest from South Africa.  He knew not much would come of his bill until many years later when the anti-apartheid was strong enough to be a force for reckoning.  McCollum's legislation is going nowhere, but it is part of a growing movement to help liberate the Palestinians.

 The other ask was for my legislator to join the Defense [sic] Spending Reduction Caucus, founded in 2020 by Reps. Mark Pocan and Barbara Lee. Sheyla reminded me that Sarbanes voted for a ten-percent reduction in last year's military budget.  He is prepared to do that this year.  She will ask him about joining the caucus, and will let me know the answer.  I thanked Rep. Sarbanes for co-sponsoring the resolution to terminate the Authorization to Use Military Force.  The aide said the office is getting a lot calls opposed to the revocation of the AUMF, but John Sarbanes is solid on ending that authorization..

  Maryland Peace Action representatives will meet with Marimon on Tuesday about several additional issues.  Support for the Palestinians will be raised at that meeting as well.

Kagiso, Max

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