By Miriam Raftery
February 9, 2024 (Oceanside) - A dozen constituents of Congressmember Mike Levin (CA-49) staged a sit-in at his Oceanside office this morning, demanding that he call for an immediate, permanent ceasefire in Gaza and an end to U.S. military funding to Israel. The action comes three days after Levin voted for an additional $17.6 billion in military funding to Israel in a measure that ultimately failed to pass the house.
The constituents, representing the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) San Diego and the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) San Diego chapters, say staff has repeatedly refused their request to speak with Levin. Seated in the office, they read a letter to their representative, read, poetry, chanted and recited names of children killed in Gaza. They also held up a clothesline of baby clothes with the names of dead Palestinian infants. After three hours they marched out of the office to join nearly 50 demonstrators outside.
More than 25,000 people are believed to have been killed and many more displaced from their homes in Gaza since the Israeli-Palestinian war began in early October, sparked by Hamas attacking and slaughtering over 1,300 Israeli civilians and taking hundreds hostage.
"We want to ask Congressmember Levin how he explains to his two young children that he supports the murder of thousands of children their age in Gaza?” said Palestinian Youth Movement member Subrein Damanhoury. We need Mike's constituents to know that while our infrastructure crumbles, he's greenlighting $17 billion dollars in weapons and bombs to Israel so that it can continue murdering Palestinian families."
Jewish Voice for Peace member Sophie stated, "We are four months into what the majority of the world recognizes as the world's first livestreamed genocide. Our Jewish faith teaches us that every life is precious, and we would like Mike Levin to learn that lesson.”
This group of constituents vowed to keep up the public pressure until Mike Levin stands up for Palestinian humanity by calling for an unconditional ceasefire and committing to end US military funding to Israel.
Levin, a Catholic whose father is Jewish, issued this statement regarding his vote in support of the failed Israeli supplemental aid package.
“Last November, I voted against Speaker Johnson’s Israel aid package because it was conditioned on unacceptable domestic spending reductions. At the time, I said I would vote in favor of a clean aid bill if it came to the House Floor. Today, I voted in favor of this second Israel aid package because it does not include the spending cuts. However, I reject Speaker Johnson’s attempts to divide the Congress, thus undermining the United States’ standing in the world in a time of crisis.”
But Levin also called for establishment of a Palestinian state.
“ My support of this legislation is for the defense of the Israeli people, and for Israeli leadership that understands the only way to live in peace, security, and dignity is to establish a Palestinian state. “But make no mistake, this package is completely inadequate – humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, defense aid to Ukraine and Taiwan, and funding for critical border security programs were all left out. Funding for these efforts is critical to our national interests, and we absolutely must add aid for Gaza and the West Bank before any legislation is signed into law.”
He criticized Speaker Mike Johnson and Republicans’ far-right wing in Congress for excluding these funding priorities under pressure from former president and presidential candidate Donald Trump, and for refusing to allow an opportunity for amendments. “This is an abdication of leadership.”
Sara Jacobs, a San Diego representative who is Jewish, voted the opposite way – against the Israel-only supplemental funding bill put forward by the House Speaker.
“If we want the U.S. to lead on the world stage, we have to be able to address the numerous security challenges we’re facing simultaneously. This bill was a clear ploy by Speaker Johnson to use aid to Israel as a political wedge and to end all discussions about humanitarian aid to Gaza – where millions of Palestinians lack food, water, fuel, medicine, and electricity – and support for Ukraine in their fight against Purin’s aggression,” Jacobs said in a statement. I support providing defensive aid to Israel – but that can and must be paired with our additional priorities and responsibilities.”