At her weekly press conference with Capitol Hill reporters this morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed how ever so concerned she was about Palestinian "collateral damage" -- euphemistic military jargon for "dead innocent men, women and children" -- but said Israel had an absolute right to defend itself and blah blah blah. See this exchange she had with one reporter (whose hand I'd like to shake):
Q: [On the House floor Dennis Kucinich] raised the issue of the Arms Export Control Act, which prohibits U.S. weapons from being used to escalate a conflict.The funny thing about Pelosi's response is her remark that she understands the reporter's "characterization" of the events in Gaza -- as if there were any dispute of the fact that the Israeli military deliberately targeted UN schools housing hundreds of Palestinian refugees, killing more than 40 innocent civilians. Meanwhile, the resolution on the Gaza crisis she refers to does call for the protection of civilians, but only after declaring that the House of Representatives: "expresses vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes its right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against Hamas’s unceasing aggression."
I have two questions. How can Israel claim self-defense when it bombs Gaza, which has no army, no air force, no navy and has been under a constant blockade? And how can Israel claim self-defense when its bombs destroy U.N. schools killing children?
So I wonder if you could answer those questions and whether you agree with him that Israel is in violation of the Arms Export Control Act?
SPEAKER PELOSI: We will have on the floor tomorrow, hopefully, tomorrow, a resolution about what is happening in the Middle East. I spoke with Prime Minister Olmert Saturday, the 3rd of January and expressed to him concerns that we have about the collateral damage that is occurring in Gaza, but also reiterating my statement that Israel does have a right, any country has a right to defend its people; in fact, it is all of our responsibility to protect and defend our people.
Q: What about the questions from Congressman Kucinich?
SPEAKER PELOSI: You know what? I understand your characterization and I'd have to see why he specifically said that, but let me say in a larger sense that we will address this issue in our resolution tomorrow and the resolution addresses the issue of a two-state solution, a cease-fire, two-state solution with a Palestinian state that is independent and secure and a Jewish democratic state that is independent and secure as well.
If your hoping it mentions Israel's total air, water and land blockade of the Gaza Strip in the months leading up the current crisis -- sorry, no.
By the way, for those keeping score at home: the number of Palestinians killed so far by (U.S.-subsidized) Israeli attacks? More than 760, with another 3,200 injured. The total number of Israelis killed by rocket fire since June 2004? 18.
But wait, there's more!
At this morning's press conference, in response to another question concerning Gaza and whether she had spoken to any of Israel's leaders regarding the (dis)proportionality of their military offensive, Pelosi reminded the troublesome journalist that "you're talking about certain things from one perspective. There's a picture of some good things that are happening on the ground there as well."
Perhaps this is what she had in mind?