Friday, August 15, 2014

Demonstrators at Sam Farr Fundraiser Oppose Congress Member's Support of Israeli War

A demonstration to protest U.S. involvement in Israel's attacks on Gaza was held on August 14 outside of a fundraiser for Congress Member Sam Farr in Santa Cruz.

Organized by the Democratic Women’s Club, the fundraiser was hosted by Khristina Horn, who opened up her home on Millionaires' Row. Known as "Epworth-By-The-Sea," the mansion was built in 1887 and fronts the ocean at 320 West Cliff Drive. One demonstrator said being at the luxurious location felt "creepy" because of how strongly it symbolized the connection between big money and politics.

Farr could be seen through the large, bay facing windows of the mansion, speaking with supporters. 

Congress Member Sam Farr speaks with supporters.

Outside, activists casually held signs along West Cliff. One large banner read, "Your Taxes to Israel: $8 Million/day." 

$3 billion a year in U.S. military aid is given to the Israeli government.

On August 1, Congress Member Farr voted, along with most of the House of Representatives, to give Israel an additional $200 million this year to fund their "Iron Dome" missile defense system.

One sign held outside of the fundraiser asked, "Where is the Iron Dome for Gaza?"

Besides communicating by casting votes in Congress, Sam Farr has been silent on issues of Palestine/Israel since the attacks on Gaza began on July 8. In contrast, on July 25 Farr said this in a press release about Iraq: "before military options are put on the table, we must exhaust every possible diplomatic solution."

In a vote that took place during March of this year, Farr voted to approve the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act (H.R. 938), which passed in the House and is waiting in the Senate. The bill is an attempt to further Israel's status as a major strategic ally of the U.S., both economically and militarily. H.R. 938 encourages expanded U.S./Israel ties relating to energy, water, and agriculture, as well as the joint development of a number of weapons systems, including the David’s Sling Weapon System, the United States-Israel Arrow Weapon System (Arrow 2 and Arrow 3), and the Iron Dome. It also allows Israel to continue to be provided with military equipment and spare parts through the Department of Defense’s Excess Defense Articles program.

H.R. 938 states, "the United States and Israel should continue collaborative efforts to enhance Israel’s military capabilities, including through the transfer of advanced combat aircraft, active phased array radar, military tanker-transports, other multi-mission military aircraft, advanced or specialized munitions, and through joint training and exercise opportunities in the United States."

Over the years Sam Farr has made many public statements emphasizing his deep commitment to a strategic defense of the nation, but he may now be advocating politically for the state of Israel's ethno-religious identity as well.

Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, Stephen Zunes, has reported that Farr, along with area Congress member Anna Eshoo, supported a resolution calling on President Obama to push the Palestinians to recognize Israel explicitly "as a Jewish state."

One demonstrator on West Cliff Drive held a sign directed towards Farr's fundraiser that equated support of House Resolution 657 with Genocide. H. RES. 657 was passed unanimously by Congress by voice vote in July as a symbolic statement in support of Israel's right to "defend" itself from Hamas, stating that the rocket attacks have been "unprovoked." 

Activists find it particularly repugnant that the House could include language like this in the resolution, which overlooks the prison-like condition millions of people in Gaza are forced to endure under the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The resolution goes so far as to call resistance efforts in Gaza a "Palestinian Islamic Jihad" supported by Iran.

The resolution also contains the intentionally misleading statement that Hamas rockets indiscriminately target civilians. The fact is, Palestinian defense equipment is generally old and outdated, and the missile systems don't allow for precise targeting at all.

An unmarked security vehicle patrolls the area during the fundraiser

Several SCPD vehicles also kept watch


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