Every 5-year-old child living in Gaza has now, for the third time, experienced the violent and traumatizing destruction of his or her world through Israeli military assaults, occasions perniciously referred to by Israeli leaders as periodically “mowing the grass.”

The details, pictures, statistics of savage destruction and human suffering are omnipresent, but the central question remains unanswered: Where is the moral will for the United States, which funds the Israeli military with more than $3.1 billion of our tax dollars each year, to rein in Israel’s appetite for Palestinian land, water and natural gas deposits, the success of which requires complete Palestinian subservience, if not displacement and death?

Our congressmen and women are the drivers of Israel’s behavior, routinely giving the brightest green light to spending our money for military weapons that cause unimaginable suffering. Palestinians in Gaza experienced the equivalent of three 9/11s each day during the most recent assault, in which more than 2,000 Palestinians, including more than 500 children, were killed.

Not only is the deliberate targeting of civilians and destruction of essential infrastructure with our precision weapons immoral, it is illegal both in terms of international law and U.S. law that prohibits selling arms to countries that use them on civilians.

Our Congress swallows Israeli claims of “self defense” despite international law clearly stating that occupying powers have no right to that claim when suppressing occupied people under their control. In fact, occupied people have the legal right to resist their own occupation. Israel has been occupying Palestine for the past 40-plus years through walls, checkpoints, military incursions and airstrikes and enforcing a siege on all Gaza borders for the past seven years.

Our Congress also turns a deaf ear to own military leaders who have warned the increasing threats to our own physical security because of this policy. We, our children and grandchildren are quickly becoming the pariahs of the world, as our Congress continues to supply arms and refuses to hold Israel accountable for their use.

The taxpayers of Maine are hard-working, thrifty and increasingly elderly. We struggle to have good jobs that keep our youth in state and our families together. Tragically, joining the military is often the only choice available both as a job and as a means for affording higher education and training.

Maine families have paid dearly for this reality in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet our elected representatives continue to send $7 million of our Maine tax money each year to arm Israel, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, instead of allocating that money to health care, job creation and education here in our own state.

So what is an explanation for our congressional delegates pursuing a policy that is so counter to our national and state interests?

One thought: the pro-Israel lobby, American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee and its affiliated political action committees, is considered to be the second strongest lobby in Washington because of its easy access to large amounts of money for political campaign contributions. Talking with New Yorker reporter Jeffrey Goldberg, in 1992, Steve J. Rosen, AIPAC’s then-policy director, proclaimed: “You see this napkin? In 24 hours, we could have the signatures of 70 senators on this napkin.”

As of Aug. 19, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, according to Open Secrets.org, a nonpartisan and nonprofit research group tracking money in U.S. politics, has received $105,910 from the pro-Israel lobby in the 2014 election, putting her 17th out of the 100 senators.

Among the top 10 contributors to her campaign committee, according to Open Secrets, are Elliott Management Corp., a New York-based hedge fund, second, and NorPAC, a nonpartisan pro-Israel political action committee, fifth.

Elliott’s founder and CEO, Paul Singer, gave $1.5 million to AIPAC between 2010 and 2011.

I and other Maine voters are eager to speak with Collins about her connection to AIPAC, but our repeated requests for a meeting have been ignored.

Sen. Angus King’s office also has refused repeated requests by me and other constituents to identify who has supported/organized his trips to the Middle East.

How can we in Maine help but wonder if our congressional delegates may be representing the Israeli government better than the residents of Maine who desperately want to build a sustainable economy that keeps our families together and thriving?

Maine taxpayers deserve an explanation.

Ridgely Fuller, of Vienna, has traveled to the West Bank four times since 2002 and to Gaza three times. She sailed on the USS Audacity of Hope as part of the 2011 international flotilla to break the siege of Gaza. Her interest about the Middle East was prompted by living in Holland as a child and learning firsthand about the Jews who were hidden in her house during World War II.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.