In Corning, faith groups demand sanctions from Reed Support against Israel
BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) – A group gathered outside the office of Representative Tom Reed (NY-23) in Corning on Tuesday on behalf of a free Palestine.
Before assembling, members of several religious communities delivered a letter to Reed’s office asking the Republican to end his support for Congressional aid to Israel.
The letter was co-signed by Muslims in the Southern Region, the Jewish Voice for Peace of Ithaca, the Upper NY United Methodist Task Force for Peace with Justice in Palestine Speakers, Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine -Israel Network, Ithaca Catholic Worker, International Veterans Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Interfaith Committee of the Southern Tier for Palestine Coalition.
He was also addressing US Senators from New York Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, both Democrats.
The United States gave Israel nearly $ 4 billion last year, according to a Congressional Research Service report. Almost everything went to military assistance.
Sabri Alawawda is Palestinian and part of the group that conveyed the message to Reed. He grew up in the West Bank and immigrated to the United States in 2006.
Alawawda, who now lives in Ithaca, said he became a U.S. citizen two years ago.
“When I had my [citizenship], I swear to protect this country but I also have the right to ask my government, or my congressman, or my president, where is my tax money going? Alawawda said, speaking at a rally on Corning Market Street following the meeting at Reed’s office. “Why are you taking my tax money and sending it, killing my own people?” And make me feel like I’m part of us by killing these people.
More than 250 people were killed in fighting last month between Israel and Hamas, a Palestinian militant group. Most of those killed were Palestinians living in Gaza, where most of the destruction took place. Israeli medical services told the BBC that 12 of its citizens were killed, including two children.
In their letter to Reed, representatives of Muslim, Jewish and Christian groups called on Reed to “speak out against oppression and apartheid” by co-sponsoring a bill to ensure that American taxpayer funds are not used by the Israeli government in its efforts to detain Palestinian children, seize property or other ancillary land.
The unrest spread throughout Israel, Gaza and the West Bank last month, in part in response to potential deportations targeting Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
The destruction has led to many difficult discussions about Israel, especially among Jewish communities. Michael Margolin, a Jewish educator at Tikkun v’Or in Ithaca, said he grapples with these conversations on a daily basis.
“I am Jewish and I love my people so much,” Margolin said at the rally. “I am a Jew who loves my people so much that I am ready to stand up and confront them.”
In May, Reed co-sponsored a resolution condemning attacks on Israel and supporting U.S. investments in Israeli security forces. The Republican did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
During his first term in Congress in 2011, Reed visited Israel with the American Foundation for Israel Education, affiliated with the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.
Reed has expressed support for Israel on several occasions, but has not made any statement on the latest conflict. The congressman has made few statements in general since announcing he would not stand for re-election in 2022 following allegations of sexual misconduct, initially reported by the Washington Post.