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A Report on the Wisconsin Democratic Convention

The author is Jim Carpenter, a convention delegate from the 4th Congressional District (Milwaukee)

Hi, supporters of peace and justice:

This is a summary of issues related to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin Convention from this last week-end. 

Heba Mohammad will be on WPR (Wednesday, June 12) at 9 a.m. on the Wisconsin Today show.  

She will discuss the ceasefire resolution and the Listen to Wisconsin campaign where people were asked to vote in the primary for Uninstructed Delegation rather than Joe Biden as a protest against Biden’s failure to call for a ceasefire.      

Videos below were taken by Ann Batiza of disrupters of Baldwin’s talk.  Thanks Ann.  

Note: if you look at the crowd you can see that most people are not yelling “Tammy”. They are sitting silently.

People inside were aware of the big demonstration outside. Thanks to those who did it 🙂    


Five takeaways from the state Democratic convention in Milwaukee

Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 9, 2024

A protester interrupts a speech by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis) during the Wisconsin Democratic Convention on Saturday, June 8, 2024 at Potawatomi Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Jovanny Hernandez / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
A protester interrupts a speech by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis) during the Wisconsin Democratic Convention on Saturday, June 8, 2024 at Potawatomi Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Jovanny Hernandez / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
A protester is escorted out due to interrupting a speech by Senator. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis) during the Wisconsin Democratic Convention on Saturday, June 8, 2024 at Potawatomi Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Jovanny Hernandez / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Gov. Tony Evers crowed. Speakers ridiculed Donald Trump and rallied around President Joe Biden. And the conflict in Gaza loomed in more ways than one. Here are five takeaways from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin state convention at the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino in Milwaukee this weekend:

State Democratic convention delegates support ceasefire in Gaza

After pro-Palestinian protesters interrupted Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s speech Saturday night, Democratic delegates voted Sunday for a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The resolution said the collective punishment of Palestinians is “an egregious violation of humanitarian law and is … genocide.” One delegate called for the resolution to drop the word “genocide,” but that motion was defeated.

Heba Mohammad, a delegate and a Palestinian, said Democrats in other states had passed similar resolutions as far back as November. “We are late to the game,” Mohammad said.

The resolution passed on a vote of 136 to 91.

The delegates then voted in favor of a resolution condemning antisemitism. But first, the Democratic delegates narrowly voted to remove a line saying antisemitic incidents have risen 400% since Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Members of the Jewish caucus weren’t happy with decision to delete the line. “This is outrageous,” said Milwaukee County Supervisor Sheldon Wasserman.

. . .


Note: The argument of those wanting to remove the clause was that the claimed 400% rise in antisemitic incidents was vastly overstated because opposition to Israel’s government or even to Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza is treated as antisemitism. 

Below is the handout we circulated at the convention which has the resolution that passed and other useful information.  

I also attached my floor resolution thanking Rep Pocan for voting against sending more military aid to Israel. This resolution was not debated and voted on because they ran out of time. My understanding is that this resolution is going back to the Platform and Resolution (P&R) Committee so they can decide on it. I find that disturbing because this committee has shown itself to be out of touch with the base. The P&R Committee recommended that our Ceasefire Resolution not be adopted only to have the base override them with their vote at the convention. 

Thank Congressman Mark Pocan for His Morally Principled Vote Against Additional Military Aid to Israel  

WHEREAS, Congressman Pocan voted Nay on April 20 to the Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act.

WHEREAS, in explaining their opposition, Senator Sanders wrote “Most Americans are fed up with Netanyahu’s war against the Palestinian people and do not want to see their taxpayer dollars spent to support the slaughter of innocent civilians and the starvation of children.” Senator Merkley wrote, “The campaign conducted by the Netanyahu government is at odds with our American values and American Law, which requires recipients of American assistance to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.”

THEREFORE, RESOLVED, the DPW thanks Representative Pocan for his vote.

100 words

Submitted June 5, 2024 by Jim Carpenter, delegate from 4th CD

I have also attached an op-ed by two prominent Jewish lawyers from Milwaukee, Franklyn Gimbel and Noah Gimbel, who argue very eloquently that not only do we need a ceasefire but we need to stop sending military aid to Israel.

OPINION

World Central Kitchen deaths show why we need a ceasefire in Israel-Hamas war

We learned to abhor the silence of those who stood idly by as our ancestors, relatives and loved ones were deported en masse to the Nazi death camps. For us to remain silent now would be hypocrisy.

Franklyn Gimbel and Noah Gimbel

Special to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 9, 2024

We write this message, as a father and son, out of love. Love for the innocence of children, and for the humanity in us all that shelters that innocence, in hopes that those children will grow up inspired to protect our planet and the memories of the generations that came before them. And love for the limitless potential for truth, justice, and reconciliation.

Our family, like many Jewish-American families, came to the United States around the turn of the 20th century from Eastern Europe, driven from their homes by the pogroms then raging in the Tzarist Russian Empire.  Once they arrived in Milwaukee, they became part of the city’s tight-knit Jewish community; a community whose mutual support helped members uplift themselves from poverty to pursue the American dream. But the memory of oppression was never far behind.  

While the Nazi Holocaust killed millions in Europe as Hitler sought to exterminate the Jewish people (along with the Roma and other marginalized groups), and in the decade that followed, a young Frank Gimbel experienced savage antisemitism right here in Milwaukee, where Nazi sympathizers openly harassed Jewish Wisconsinites.  Being the target of hate and oppression for generations has engrained in us an empathy for all oppressed peoples and a yearning for justice and equality for all.  That is what our Judaism means to us. It’s also what guides and inspires us as members of the legal profession.  In our work and in our lives, we embrace the Jewish tradition of “Tikkun Olam” – repairing the world – which calls on us to speak the truth in pursuit of justice.  

As Americans, we believe in democracy. As Jews, we believe that the lessons of the Holocaust must apply universally. And as lawyers, we believe that the law must apply equally unto all. The sad truth is that the United States government’s reaction to its Israeli ally’s conduct in its so-called “war in Gaza” has betrayed all three of these fundamental beliefs we share. We must not remain silent in the face of that betrayal.

Earning back the tattered credibility of the U.S. government from a world shocked and appalled by the live-streamed horrors on constant display requires, at a minimum:

  • Stopping the flow of weapons and other military assistance to Israel.
  • Demanding an immediate ceasefire as is required to return all hostages and restore the flow of humanitarian aid and the protection of precious civilian life.
  • Working with the international community on what will be a long process of humanitarian relief and rebuilding.
  • Fostering truth and reconciliation on all sides.
  • Brokering a mutually agreeable political settlement that reflects the principles of self-determination.
  • Establishing a mechanism to promptly impose accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity, no matter the nationality of the perpetrators.

Further killing won’t bring back dead or build just peace

Today, truth and justice are under evermore dire attack. The sense of community that helped our ancestors survive centuries of hardships has been manipulated into an insular bunker mentality, positing that the continued survival of the Jewish people depends on the fortification of a Jewish nation-state in Israel, which in turn requires the suppression of Palestinian political aspirations for freedom and self-determination, and devaluing Palestinian life. Regrettably, we see members of our community adopting this bunker mentality, closing their eyes to the inescapable reality of the inexcusable destruction being carried out in our names on a horrifying scale. To conflate Jewish identity with the policies and actions of the state of Israel – while those actions arouse moral outrage the world over – does more to exacerbate antisemitism than it does to combat it.

We grieve and abhor the loss of innocent civilian life on October 7, and we feel the desperate longing of the families whose loved ones are being held hostage. But we also recognize that more violence – against innocent Palestinian men, women, and children – will neither bring back the dead, honor their memory, nor advance the cause of peace and safety. And as the families of the hostages have been protesting for months, Israel’s military campaign further endangers their loved ones rather than speeding their safe return. Does anyone sincerely believe that Israel’s killing of more than 13,000 Palestinian children and maiming, orphaning, and traumatizing of countless tens of thousands more, has made Israel, the region, or the world any safer? Does anyone sincerely believe that the United States has no choice but to satiate Israel’s appetite for weaponry through the provision of unrestricted military assistance – even bypassing Congress to expedite its delivery? 

The International Court of Justice held that there is a plausible claim that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza, and we agree. Day after day, we are flooded with images of the IDF intentionally erasing the line between civilian and combatant as the death toll in Gaza rises, now surpassing 33,000 with over twice that many injured. Early on, we heard IDF commanders justify the targeting of a densely populated refugee camp, inflicting hundreds of civilian casualties just to take out one Hamas leader. And we continue to see strikes on civilians with no apparent military objective at all, like the IDF’s recent triple drone strike on clearly marked trucks from World Central Kitchen that killed 7 aid workers, including American Jacob Flickinger.  Despite the Israeli government’s acceptance of responsibility for the killings following an internal investigation, and its dismissal of two officers involved in ordering the strikes, the charity is calling for an independent investigation, noting that “the IDF’s own video fails to show any cause to fire on our personnel convoy, which carried no weapons and posed no threat.”

Meanwhile, World Central Kitchen’s food-delivery operations remain suspended out of safety concerns as we see lines of aid trucks idling on Israeli highways, their passage into Gaza blocked by Israeli extremists, with the indifference, complicity, or outright support of the regime of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The United States Government itself, via an internal USAID memo obtained by the Huffington Post, acknowledges that Israeli forces are detaining aid delivery drivers and targeting trucks with gunfire and missile strikes, while confiscating medical aid under the pretense it will be used for military purposes. And this after having utterly destroyed all but the barest bones of Gaza’s healthcare infrastructure.

All of these gut-wrenching atrocities are being carried out in our name as Jews, and with our tax dollars as Americans. We have learned to abhor the silence of those who stood idly by as our ancestors, relatives and loved ones were deported en masse to the Nazi death camps. For us to remain silent now would be rank hypocrisy.

Continued military operations will only beget more violence, more resentment, and more extremism, on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has persisted for more than 75 years. By now, it strains credulity when Israeli officials answerable to Netanyahu deny that they are targeting the civilian population, and that they have no plans to occupy Gaza. Especially when extremist Israeli settlers – one of Netanyahu’s key bases of support – have already begun making plans to establish Jewish-only outposts in Gaza and ensure that displaced Palestinians can never return to rebuild their homes out of the ruins.

Indeed, it is hard to believe anything short of annihilation is the end goal as one scrolls social media posts from IDF soldiers and their supporters depicting physical and psychological abuse of Palestinians, and comments comparing Palestinians to cockroaches, celebrating the killing of foreign aid workers, and mocking the disfigured corpses of dead men, women, and children.

US military assistance to Israel should be suspended

Numerous Israeli officials have acknowledged the necessity of U.S. military assistance to Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. Without this assistance, Israel would need to draw down its operations there. At the same time, U.S. law prohibits the provision of military assistance to any country whose forces have been implicated in gross violations of human rights: not found guilty in court of such violations, just “credibly implicated.” Unless we’re to disbelieve our lying eyes, that bar has been met many times over in the case of the IDF, meaning it is not only immoral but illegal for the U.S. to supply weapons in advancement of what the ICJ has found plausibly resembles the gravest crime against humanity there is: genocide. The U.S. government must obey the law, including meeting its obligation under international law to prevent and not abet genocide. It sounds chillingly absurd to need to say so. 

Collective punishment like what is being carried out against the people of Gaza is anathema to the system of international law. While jaded cynics may scoff that international law is nothing but words on paper to be wielded by the powerful to advance their interests, we forcefully disagree. International law stands between civilization and barbarism. In an age of species-threatening ecological disaster, international law may be one of our last hopes for the survival of humanity. To consign international law to the realm of idealistic fantasy is to concede that might makes right, and that the powerful few will alone determine the fate of the struggling masses. If that’s right, then the only fault with Hitler’s genocidal final solution is that he lacked the resources to carry it out. That cannot be the case. At least not in any world worth living in.

In recent days and weeks we have seen some moderate progress from U.S. leaders, such as Sen. Chuck Schumer’s speech calling out extremist forces in Israeli politics as an “obstacle to peace,” or President Biden’s call for an “immediate ceasefire” in his recent phone call with Netanyahu.  But words alone are not enough. They must be backed up by actions.  We must use the awesome power inherent in our role as Israel’s principal patron and the world’s lone superpower before it’s too late for the Palestinians in Gaza. They are facing an imminent famine and several – mostly children – have already died from hunger and malnutrition. To let those numbers swell, like the number of civilians (again, mostly children) killed by bombs and guns, by falling rubble and by exposure to the elements, would break our solemn vow that Never Again will we countenance another genocide, much less support one.

Frank Gimbel has been practicing law and serving in various public-service roles in Milwaukee for more than 60 years, including President of both the Milwaukee Bar Association and State Bar of Wisconsin, and Chairman of the Wisconsin Center District Board. His contributions to the legal community and the Jewish community have been recognized with numerous awards. Noah Gimbel is an attorney who received his J.D. magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center in 2016, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Georgetown Law Journal. The views expressed in this article reflect the personal opinions of the authors, not their respective law firms or any other affiliated groups.

I find it very hypocritical that President Biden and many Democrats are now calling for a ceasefire but continue to send military aid to support Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza. That’s akin to telling a school mass shooter to stop murdering children but simultaneously giving the shooter more ammunition and weapons.  

peace

Jim Carpenter       


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