January 29, 2024

Former Speaker Pelosi, the Call for a Cease-Fire in Gaza Has Wide and Universal Support

It is not “Mr. Putin’s message.”

Katrina vanden Heuvel
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 15: U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi speaks during a dedication ceremony of Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) Way, the block on Grove Street between Franklin Street and Van Ness Avenue as Mayor London Breed, conductor and pianist Michael Tilson Thomas and family, San Francisco Symphony leaders and supporters attend, in San Francisco, California, United States on December 15, 2023.
Nancy Pelosi attends a dedication ceremony in San Francisco on December 15, 2023. (Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu / Getty Images)

If former House speaker Nancy Pelosi is any measure—and she is—the Democratic Party establishment is intent on turning President Biden’s ruinous Gaza position into a domestic political debacle.

Sunday morning on CNN, Pelosi bizarrely and in a menacing tone labeled the call for a cease-fire in Gaza as “Mr. Putin’s message.” Suggesting that some who support it are on Putin’s payroll, she said she would call for the FBI to investigate.

Pelosi gives Putin far too much credit. The call for a cease-fire is the “message” of virtually the entire world community, as revealed by vote after vote in the United Nations. The latest showed 153 nations in favor of an immediate cease-fire, with only 10 against, with the major allies of the US either in favor or abstaining.

According to a December New York Times/Sienna poll, a plurality of Americans—44 percent—support a cease-fire, including 50 percent of women, 62 percent of 18–29 year-olds, 59 percent of Democrats, and 58 percent of those who voted for Biden in 2020.

Sixty-seven members of the Democratic caucus in the House, including 13 members from Pelosi’s California delegation, have already joined the call. These include centrists like Don Beyer, Debbie Dingell, and Judy Chu, Pelosi allies like Jan Schakowsky and Jared Huffman, as well as progressive leaders like Pramila Jayapal, Barbara Lee, Jamie Raskin, and members of the “Squad.” They are joined by leading Senate Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, Chris Van Hollen, and Dick Durbin.

Some of the strongest labor unions in the country—including the 2 million–member SEIU, the United Auto Workers, and the American Postal Workers Union—are calling for an immediate cease-fire.

City councils across the country, including Pelosi’s hometown of San Francisco, have called on the president to demand a cease-fire. Others include Minneapolis, Detroit, Oakland, Bridgeport, Atlanta, Seattle, Dearborn, Albany, Akron, and Providence.

The National Council of Churches, the nation’s largest ecumenical body, uniting 38 Christian faith groups, has called for a cease-fire, as have more than 1,000 black Christian pastors. The call for a cease-fire has also been endorsed by the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, a leader of Pelosi’s own religion.

As the casualties mount in Gaza—now over 25,000 dead, mostly women and children, with over 60,000 wounded—and the systematic destruction continues, the clamor for an immediate cease-fire swells ever louder.

The White House has labeled such calls “repugnant and disgraceful.” Pelosi attributes them to Putin’s machinations. But it is the White House and the former speaker who are out of touch with the country and the world. In reality, the growing support is not a product of Putin’s “financing” or of Russian disinformation but of people moved by their conscience and their sense of decency.

Which leads one to ask the former speaker, to paraphrase Joseph Welch’s famous query to Joe McCarthy in the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearing: “Have you no sense of decency, madam?”

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel is editorial director and publisher of The Nation, America’s leading source of progressive politics and culture. She served as editor of the magazine from 1995 to 2019.

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