Many Democrats, including President-elect Barack Obama, maintain staunch support for Israel, despite its military crackdown on Hamas in Gaza over the past two weeks, but a few Minnesotans — including Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum and Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Norm Coleman — have taken more independent approaches. Discussing the conflict with Al Jazeera’s Shihab Rattansi yesterday, Ellison expanded on his statement of last Friday, which accused the Bush administration of passively ignoring the strikes and ground offensive that have killed nearly 600 people in Gaza and during which he said he supported actively engaging both sides to find peace. He says there’s little sympathy from the U.S. for civilians in Gaza (some of whom died yesterday when Israel attacked U.N.-administered schools in Gaza, killing at least 40).
“Just declaring ‘We support Israel’ or, for that matter, ‘We support Palestine’ is no solution. What we need someone to say, ‘We support peace,’” Ellison said. “There is a legitimate Palestinian narrative that the world must hear.”
He continued: “The people who have a strong sympathy for the Israeli position dominate the conversation. It’s really not politically safe to say, ‘Look, there are two sides to this, and Israel has not been an angel in this, and certainly there have been people on the Palestinian side who have not contributed to a constructive solution.’ … I don’t believe my colleagues are fully aware of how desperately bad it is [in Gaza for Palestinians].”