Politics

US Congress members visit hunger strike calling for permanent cease-fire in Gaza

‘The temporary pause is not enough. We need a permanent cease-fire now,’ says Representative Rashida Tlaib

A group of US Congress members visited activists, state legislators, and actors on Wednesday on day three of a five-day hunger strike they launched in front of the White House demanding a permanent cease-fire in Gaza.

Speaking at a candlelight vigil in front of the White House, Representative Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American member of Congress, said millions of Americans are calling for an end to the violence.

“There is nothing humanitarian, my friends, about giving innocent civilians a few days of rest before they are bombed again,” she said.

“We are calling for a permanent end to the violence and not a break in the violence,” she said. “The temporary pause is not enough. We need a permanent cease-fire now.”

Rebuffing White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre – who called “repugnant” and “disgraceful” comments by a group of progressive Democrats, including Tlaib, when they said Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel should be considered in light of previous actions by Israel – Tlaib said: “Well, let me say this: the bombing of innocent civilians and children is repugnant and disgraceful.”

“The refusal to support a cease-fire and an end to violence and the killing is repugnant and disgraceful,” she added.

On the growing calls for a cease-fire both in the US and worldwide, Tlaib said: “We will continue to demand a permanent cease-fire, demand immediate delivery of enough humanitarian aid to Gaza, demand the release of all hostages and those arbitrarily detained, and demand that every American, those who are left, come home and demand that the Palestinian people live free from occupation.”

’Too many children have died’

Jonathan Jackson, a Democratic congressman for Illinois, thanked all the activists who are taking part in the hunger strike for their courage and moral clarity.

“Too many children have died. Too many innocent are suffering as we speak. We’re demanding an end to this,” he said.

“We do not believe people are born to be enemies. We have seen too much bloodshed.”

Rep. Cori Bush, representing Missouri, said that without a permanent cease-fire, their grief and mourning will only grow as more lives are taken.

“There are Palestinians who will be taking their last meal, that will be taking that last moment of time with their family members if we don’t enact a permanent cease-fire,” she said.

Telling how a group of progressive lawmakers in Congress introduced a resolution on Oct. 16 calling for “an immediate de-escalation and cease-fire,” Bush said the “resolution is clear.”

“There are a lot of people who are trying to stigmatize the word ‘cease-fire’ as if it’s something radical,” she said, adding it is the “obvious” and “critical step” that needs to be taken.

“Our movement is working. They feel our energy in the White House. They hear our demands. They see us marching in the streets,” she said. “We are moving closer and closer to that permanent and lasting cease-fire.”

‘Mass murder’

Congressman Jamaal Bowman, representing New York, also joined the calls for a permanent cease-fire

“We’ve all read about mass murders, and I cannot believe I’m living through one,” he said. “And the US government is condoning it and being complicit.”

Calling for a cease-fire does not mean supporting the Palestinian group Hamas, he said.

“We’re calling for a cease-fire because we don’t want anyone else to die. We don’t want Israelis to die. We don’t want Jews to die. We hate antisemitism and we condemn it. But every life is precious,” he added.

Actor Denee Benton called on President Joe Biden to stop US support for the destruction in Gaza and instead move those funds “towards repair.”

Actor Cynthia Nixon read out a poem by Palestinian-American poet Zeina Azzam titled “Write My Name,” noting how parents in Gaza are writing their children’s names on their arms and legs so they can be identified if they are killed in airstrikes.

Participants in the vigil later read out the names of some of the more than 15,000 Palestinians who have been killed since the start of the Israel-Palestine war on Oct. 7.

 

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