Support an ally under siege from Hamas terrorism

On October 7th we woke up in the dark. One of us experienced the anguish up close, when we were awakened from a dream in a Tel Aviv hotel by rocket sirens and a frantic announcement that our family had just 90 seconds to seek shelter from rocket fire in an interior staircase. The other, though safe in New York, thousands of miles away from unspeakable violence, felt immediate fear, informed by a lifetime of proud Zionism and decades in Congress, the last few years serving as the senior Jewish member. rank of the House of Representatives. .

On the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust, no experience could compare to the unthinkable horror faced by so many Israelis, particularly in the south. The bloody cribs told the story of children slaughtered in front of their parents. Reports that followed described innocent civilians being beheaded before being burned and spouses having to identify what remained of their loved ones. Mothers began preparing to send their 18-year-old sons to war. 300,000 soldiers prepared to defend their country.

Destroyed buildings at a kibbutz that was attacked near the Gaza border are shown on October 14, 2023 in Be'eri, Israel.

Amir Levy/Getty Images

Destroyed buildings at a kibbutz that was attacked near the Gaza border on October 14, 2023 in Be’eri, Israel. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Like the unified global support the United States received after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we must now lead the world in supporting Israel after one of the most brutal and depraved terrorist attacks in history. As the only two Jewish representatives from New York (home to the majority of Jews outside of Israel), we are honored to lead Congress in support of Israel’s right to defend itself as part of an international effort to root out terrorist networks.

Guided by President Biden’s strong leadership and unwavering support for Israel, it is essential to understand that the enemy in this war is Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization, not the Palestinian people. In 2005, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip as part of a peacebuilding effort. However, shortly afterward Hamas took control of Gaza. Instead of investing in schools, hospitals, infrastructure and the economy, Hamas used international aid to finance its terrorist network, to the detriment of the more than 2 million Palestinians living in Gaza.

The mission is clear: Hamas must be dismantled and eliminated. That is the only path to peace and security for Israel. It is also the only path to peace, security and prosperity for the Palestinian people.

Our first urgent priority must be to free the hostages Hamas kidnapped in Gaza, including the elderly (a Holocaust survivor!), women, children, and Americans. We applaud the Biden administration for offering immediate assistance to Israel in that effort.

We must also focus on extracting American citizens who want to return to the United States from Israel and Gaza. In particular, our districts have perhaps the largest number of Americans who traveled to Israel for the Sukkot holiday, and we have been working overtime with the State Department to bring them back. But the trauma will linger long after they return home (as it will for so many Americans who have been affected by this atrocity) and we must make sure we come together to support each other during this difficult time.

Israeli soldiers remove the body of a civilian, who was killed days earlier in an attack by Palestinian militants at this kibbutz near the Gaza border, on October 10, 2023 in Kfar Aza, Israel.  (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Amir Levy/Getty Images

Israeli soldiers remove the body of a civilian, who was killed days earlier in an attack by Palestinian militants at this kibbutz near the Gaza border, on October 10, 2023 in Kfar Aza, Israel. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

We in Congress must also provide the necessary means for the Biden administration to provide all the military, security, and diplomatic support Israel needs to protect itself and eradicate Hamas within the laws of war. But we must also rally our allies around the world to work with Israel, Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries to alleviate the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza, where Hamas has intentionally placed much of its infrastructure and command centers in residential areas.

More than anything, we as Americans must stand united against terrorism around the world. Just as we came together to eliminate Al Qaeda and ISIS, we must do the same to eradicate Hamas. On the other hand, we also remain united in support of the innocent civilians of Gaza who have suffered under Hamas rule. This is a war against Hamas, a terrorist organization, not against the Palestinian people.

This unity must extend to the halls of Congress, where, as after 9/11, both Republicans and Democrats must unite in support of the Biden administration’s efforts to support our ally Israel in this fight against terrorism for its own sovereignty. and recognition. There is simply no room for any elected official to weaponize Jewish lives for political gain.

Unfortunately, some of our Republican colleagues have already attempted to use the tragedy in Israel to undermine the administration and play politics with Israel in its darkest moments by introducing unnecessary and partisan resolutions in Congress. These tactics threaten to undermine many decades of bipartisan consensus on Israel. They are wasting the time of Jewish members of Congress, who are forced to waste time addressing Republican members’ efforts to create political divisions for their partisan purposes instead of focusing on the critical work we must do.

One of our Republican colleagues rushed to introduce a resolution to freeze $6 billion in a Qatari bank account intended to support the Iranian people with humanitarian aid as part of a prisoner exchange deal. Since Iran is Hamas’s main supporter, the administration – as part of its foreign affairs authority – was already in the process of doing exactly that. The resolution was clearly designed to try to score political points just days after the initial attacks and before the administration had time to reevaluate this aid.

Another more egregious example of the politicization of this international crisis was a resolution introduced by Republican Mike Lawler of New York condemning the recent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic demonstration by the Democratic Socialists of America in New York City. Democrats across the political spectrum, from the most moderate to the most progressive, have roundly condemned the demonstration, including ourselves. Such vile rhetoric that supports terrorism and horrendous war crimes has no place in our country.

But Rep. Lawler’s non-binding resolution would have no real impact; Instead, his only intention was to use the terrorist attack as a political ploy for his own partisan benefit. Democrats refused to fall for this transparent effort to use this tragedy for political purposes, and none of us co-sponsored the resolution.

In this current precarious situation, with the growing possibility of war in the Middle East, these partisan games of trap have no place in Congress. Democrats want to take decisive action. To defeat Hamas, rescue hostages, and save lives, Congress must not only provide Israel with urgent additional military aid as requested by the president, but it must also support the president so that the United States speaks with one voice: in support of Israel and against. terrorism.

Instead of engaging in partisan chicanery, we urge our Republican colleagues to take the time to elect a House speaker so we can pass essential legislation to support Israel in its existential fight for democracy against terrorist organizations.

Allies stick together. The United States became the first country to recognize Israel as a state in 1948 and in 1987 designated Israel a major non-NATO ally. Right now, as Americans are held hostage in Gaza and democracy is under attack, our democratic alliances are more important than ever. As President Biden made clear: “This is not about party or politics. “This is about the security of our world, the security of the United States of America.”

Congress has a choice. He can take advantage of this moment to try to inflict cross-party political damage, or he can rise to the occasion and do something meaningful to support the administration’s efforts to fight terrorism and protect Israel. With so much at stake, we must choose the latter.

Goldman represents parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan and Nadler represents parts of Manhattan in the House of Representatives.

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