Following the Israeli military’s bombing of offices of international press outlets including the Associated Press and Al Jazeera, an effort has emerged in Congress to block a planned $735 million weapons sale to the Israeli government, led by Reps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.). But realistically for the effort to move forward, it would need the support of the House Foreign Affairs Committee chair by Rep Gregory Meeks (D-NY).
Today, human rights and press freedom organizations Fight for the Future, Freedom of the Press Foundation, MediaJustice, MPower Change, and National Lawyers Guild issued the following joint statement:
Freedom of the press is an essential human right. The Israeli military’s bombing of international press offices actively interfered with the ability of journalists to document the situation on the ground in Gaza, including their ability to document human rights abuses and potential war crimes. Especially in light of numerous reports of social media censorship targeting Palestinians, it’s crucial that reporters in Gaza are able to do their jobs safely and without military interference.
The U.S. government should not be selling weapons to a government that has shown repeatedly it will use them to attack media outlets and journalists. As Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep Gregory Meeks must allow a vote on the proposal to halt the arms deal. If he fails to do so, he’s actively working against freedom of the press, democracy, and human rights around the globe.