Sen. Merkley talks federal shop at Klamath County town hall

Herald and News

Actions of the Israel and the Netanyahu government in the war with Hamas, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley said, qualify as war crimes.

“It is an infliction of mass suffering,” Merkley said. “It’s a cascading humanitarian disaster.”

The senator described the stories he’d learned during his time on site at the Rafah Gate in Palestine during the annual Klamath County town hall meeting last Saturday.

Merkley cited Israel’s excessive restrictions of humanitarian provisions as clear-cut international war crimes.

“The aid workers I’ve met with have said they’ve worked in the worst conflict zones in the world, places like Yemen or Sudan or Ukraine, and that this is by far the worst set of circumstances,” Merkley said. “Everything’s affected.”

Basic necessities like food and water are in short supply and high demand.

“You don’t have clean water, you don’t have food, you don’t have shelter,” the senator said. “You still have bombs and artillery shells dropping. You don’t have power … You don’t have communications … and you often don’t have transportation. All the fundamentals of human civilization simultaneously affected.”

Merkley said he hopes and prays that the Netanyahu government will agree to the three-phase ceasefire resolution announced by the Biden administration on May 31.

Concerns about immigration were voiced by residents on both sides of the political aisle at the town hall, including the overwhelming number of people seeking asylum, which has surpassed those found at any other time in history.

Carl Andrews asked the senator, “Is this a problem stemming from hostilities and criminals as some of our republican colleagues have said, or is this part of a worldwide phenomenon where we have more people forcibly displaced than any time before in history, including in the two world wars?”

Andrews continued, noting that there will soon be an additional 1.7 million Palestinians refugees as well as one million homeless people in Guatemala due to the destruction of land inflicted by American corporations.

“And is this problem related to climate change, and how can the United States take some responsibility for that?” Andrews concluded.

The simple answers, Merkley said, are “yes and yes.”

One factor in countries south of the American border is the power of the drug cartels.

“They have built a system of oppression that goes down to the street level,” Merkley said. “The president of Guatemala said you have to understand that even a humble street vendor pays protection money, and if they do not pay that protection money … they will kill a member of your family.”

In terms of climate change, Merkley said prolonged droughts in Central America have resulted from climate change, robbing rural communities of the ability to farm and ranch, leading to a widespread immigration to America to build sustainable lives.

Other topics addressed

• U.S. Postal Services decline under leadership of 2020 appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy who is currently “dismantling” USPS and removing, deconstructing machinery from processing centers.

Oregon is one such state where the only remaining processing center resides in Portland, forcing even local mail to be transport to Portland and back before being delivered.

Merkley noted that DeJoy has yet to return his phone calls or emails, establishing no communication with the senator to date.

DeJoy is also the founder of New Breed Logistics and donated a significant sum of money to the Republican Party on behalf of Donald Trump. He is the first postmaster general in two decades without prior experience in the USPS.

• Merkley discussed the need to reform the “perpetually broken system” of Congressional spending bills. Current form requires the passing of “megabills” which are bills that include numerous earmarked and often unrelated items within the same bill.

• The need to bring “graciousness and love” into the conversation about trans youth and their safety and wellbeing.