March 30, 2010
Congressman Brian Baird stands up for the people of Gaza
Seattle Times columnist Bruce Ramsey interviews Rep. Brian Baird, D-Vancouver., about his criticism of Israel and his interest in the people of Gaza.
By Bruce Ramsey
Seattle Times editorial columnist
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The United States should break Israel's blockade of Gaza and deliver badly needed supplies by sea, a U.S. congressman told Gaza students.
The congressman was Brian Baird. Many of his colleagues go to Israel, few to Gaza — and none as often as he. The southwest Washington Democrat likes to see things for himself. He went to Iraq, and changed his opinion of U.S. strategy there.
Why Gaza? In an interview, Baird recalled a speech some years ago by Israel's current premier, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). To Baird, the speech was "thinly disguised racism" — and he recoiled from it. When the crowd applauded, he and his wife walked out.
Then there was Rachel Corrie, who in 2003 was killed in Gaza while trying to block an Israeli bulldozer from wrecking a Gazan house. The Corrie family lives in Baird's district.
Many of his friends "are very distressed" with his criticism of Israel, Baird said. "But if they would see what I have seen and could meet the people I have met, they would change their position."
He recalled his visit to Gaza in February 2009, after Israel's invasion. The American International School had been "a beautiful school, with a Western curriculum." Israel had flattened it, Baird said, "using bombs made by us." A U.S. military man told him of finding a phosphorus shell from the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama...
Facebook friends are helping Brian Baird who is being attacked viciously for his appeal for Gaza. But we need support. If you are not inclined to write comments, could you at least click on thumbs up to those comments supportive of Congressman Baird and the Palestinians.