Socialist Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant drafted a letter this week calling for an immediate end to all U.S. government military aid for Israel.
“I would call this letter balanced in the context of the political situation in Israel and Palestine and also primarily a letter that takes a stand in favor of social justice for everybody,” Sawant told KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz Show.
For an hour Wednesday night, the two debated the larger issues concerning the Israeli war on Hamas in Gaza and who is responsible for the civilian deaths.
Rantz pressed Sawant to acknowledge Hamas as a terrorist organization, but the councilmember refused to concede. Sawant also said she doesn’t necessarily believe Hamas is storing weapons in hospitals or schools.
She also defended herself as a councilmember in Seattle taking on an international issue.
“I think there’s a moral imperative here to make a point that we have to stand in solidarity with the oppressed everywhere,” Sawant said. “That’s why I’m a Socialist.”
Responding to Sawant’s letter in an exclusive interview with the Jason Rantz Show, Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, argued that the councilmember is either ideologically driven or simply misinformed.
“It might be that this particular councilmember doesn’t understand what Hamas is,” Dermer told Rantz. “Hamas is a terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction. They are committed by their charter. The charter calls for the murder of Jews worldwide.”
Dermer said he’s confident there are good, moral people in Seattle who will side with Israel once they educate themselves and learn the whole truth.
“The problem is, I think it’s attributed sometimes to Mark Twain, I don’t know if he actually said it, but they say a lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes,” Dermer said.
In the end, Sawant said the letter is a condemnation of violence.
“I would urge everybody to reach into their hearts and look at this from a humanitarian standpoint. No matter where we are on an ideological plane, no matter what our religious affiliations, I think this is one of those moments of truth where we are called on to set aside political differences to see what can be done to actually end this conflict.”
“When all the facts are known,” said Dermer, “people who rush to judgment against Israel, frankly, I think they will be embarrassed and they’ll have to retract a lot of what they said.”