LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Visiting representative is against peace

This Friday, Oct. 28, a Golden Panther returns to her alma mater. This former FIU graduate will speak on the ‘Challenges to U.S Foreign Policy’ at the Law School. I’m talking about Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chair of House Committee on Foreign Affairs. While I won’t be able to make it to the lecture, I can only imagine what will be discussed by the Congresswoman. Current affairs like Gaddafi’s death and an ever changing Arab World will be a hot topic to be discussed. Syria, Iran, North Korea who according to the Congresswoman constitutes a list of “rogue states” may be discussed as well. Not too surprisingly she might also talk about Cuba, Castro and the geopolitics. But one topic which she will most emphatically talk about will be about Palestine and Israel.

The Congresswoman is a staunch supporter of Israel. She is so staunch in support for Israel one might even mistake her as an extremist right wing Israeli. Let’s do this again, she is so staunch in her support for Israel, even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might sometimes sound moderate in front of her. Despite several Israeli people who have called on the United States to not cut funding for the Palestinians, the Congresswoman finds herself authoring the most destructive anti-Palestinian bills to have passed in the U.S House. Coming from a family of refugees, the Congresswoman is supposed to be sympathetic to the plight of millions of Palestinian refugees. Instead, she has vociferously advocated cutting funding to UNRWA, the United Nations body which carries out several relief programs for Palestinian refugees.

Conspicuously, even a person with a closed mind will say that the Congresswoman is extremely biased in her stance when it comes to Palestine and Israel. I have come across several ideological Zionists who backpedal when you confront them with the question of illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine, whereas, the Congresswoman surpasses even these Zionists. In 2010, she demanded that the Obama administration halt the condemnation of illegal Israeli settlements. In 2011, she introduced a bill to cut off U.S funding to any U.N organization which recognizes Palestine. I have no word to describe this attitude of the Congresswoman except for saying that this behavior of hers is totally bizarre and dangerous for amity in the Middle East.

The question remains what it will take to achieve peace in the Middle East while there seem to be so many obstacles in place. In my opinion, some of the obstacles which should be a matter of concern for Americans are people amongst themselves. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is one such person. The Congresswoman, who has eloquently written about foreign affairs on her website saying that the United States should isolate its enemies, instead finds itself isolated in the international arena. And as a child of political refugees, she should be in a better position to understand the plight of the millions of Palestinian refugees. She writes about the several rogue states, their illegal weapons program and the human rights abuses they commit, but fails to utter a word about the several human rights abuses Israel commits and how it maintains a secretive arsenal of about 200 nuclear warheads. If she is truly concerned about people who have been silenced with oppression, she should also champion the cause of the Palestinian people who have been oppressed for more than 63 years now. Perhaps she should take a little bit of advice from Israeli President Shimon Peres who has repeatedly said that, if “peace” is not achieved soon, it will be the death of the two-state solution and Israel will gallop towards becoming a binational state.

I wish I could have been there for her lecture, so that instead of writing this piece I would have been able to directly talk to her and learn from a fellow Golden Panther. Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it, but I hope that the FIU students in the room are able to scrutinize what she says efficiently and not let double standards rule the roost in American politics.

Finally, I would like to quote Gandhi who said, “Politics without principles is a deadly social sin and catastrophic for mankind,” unfortunately I have to conclude by saying that I find Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen indulging in unprincipled politics.

Aman Muqeet is a recent graduate and one of the founding members of Students for Justice in Palestine at FIU and former Graduate Senator of the Student Government Association of FIU.


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