Cincinnati, OH – Today, Congressman Greg Landsman (OH-01) released the following statement.
“Israel is at war with Hamas, but it is more awful and complicated than just that. As we – including those of us in Congress – work to fully understand and productively navigate what is an unprecedented and horrific moment in Israel, I hope the following facts will help. The shock, confusion, and trauma in Israel are similar to what we experienced in the hours and days following the terror attacks on the morning of September 11, 2001. Arguably worse. For Israel, the death toll has risen to more than 1,000 Israelis. Adjusted for population, that would be as if we lost 40,000 Americans on 9/11.
“The sheer number of those dead, missing, injured or being held hostage is staggering. Again, adjusted for population, it would be as if 125,000 Americans were injured (on top of the 40,000 murdered), 6,500 Americans were being held hostage, and 15 million Americans called up for reserve duty. The horror and disbelief and grief are very, very real.
Gaza and Hamas
“Nearly 20 years ago, Israel unilaterally left Gaza. Israeli citizens and settlements were pulled from Gaza by the Israeli government. There was a leadership vacuum, and it was unfortunately filled by Hamas – a terror organization whose mission, articulated in its charter – is to eliminate Israel. There are 2.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, and only a small fraction are part of this terror army. Most of Hamas’ funding comes from Iran. As many as 1,000 Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on Saturday, in the South, murdering as many civilians as they could, including children. The images and stories are horrific and gut-wrenching and most Israelis know someone who has been murdered or is missing.
Hezbollah and the North
“While Israel is defending herself in the South, the North is arguably more terrifying. On the northern border with Lebanon and Syria – Hezbollah, which is fully funded by Iran – has more sophisticated weaponry, including precision-guided missiles. Attacks by air and land have already begun. Those living close to the border have been instructed to stay in shelters.
The West Bank
“To the East is the West Bank, and Islamic Jihad – also believed to be funded by Iran. Fear of violence breaking out in what would be a third front is real, with minor incidents having already occurred. If it weren’t for the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Israel would be essentially surrounded by mostly Iranian-backed terror groups determined to end the Jewish State of Israel. It is too dangerous to ignore or overlook this inescapable reality.
“Those responsible for Saturday’s bloodshed have said that the help they received from Iran was critical. Iranian leaders have been vocal about the destruction of Israel, and they have been successful in taking advantage of leadership vacuums in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank. Iran has found ways to get munitions to front lines through Iraq and Syria. Iranian leaders present a daily and existential threat (with a nuclear weapon) to Israel – and the United States and International community must understand the threat that Iran poses to Israel and global stability. And to fully understand what happened on Saturday and why, it’s important to know that Iran does not want Israel and Saudi Arabia to work together. Iranian leaders have used the Palestinian people – as well as others bordering Israel – and they hope that the world will blame everyone but them.
“There are millions of Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank. They are victims too, but to blame Israel is to perpetuate the status quo: the inaction of Arab nations in the region and the way in which they have allowed Iran to fund terror groups and terror operations in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria. Arab leaders in the region could work together, marginalize Iranian influence and money, and help stand up legitimate governing authorities in Gaza and the West Bank, and rid both – along with Lebanon and Syria – of terror. Peace would follow.
A Long War
“This may be a long war, and the United States must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel every step of the way. The future of a Jewish State of Israel is not guaranteed. Many could argue that its long-term is now and has always been an open question. This is a critical and strategic ally of ours and we will be there to help them end this war as quickly and successfully as possible. The images and stories coming out of Gaza in the days and weeks ahead will be horrific. War is horrific. Israel must defend herself, and yet we can all mourn the awfulness of war.
“We will need to pass a budget and supplemental funding for Israel, Ukraine, and border security here. This will require Republicans willing to pick a Speaker who will work with Democrats. We cannot pass anything substantive without bipartisan support – period. This will mean that we must stick to the Bipartisan Budget Agreement we passed earlier this year. The supplemental funding can be passed with bipartisan support, which is entirely possible if the bill is funding for these priorities alone – no controversial or partisan policy riders. This is not a time for more of the partisan awfulness coming from the more extreme members of this Congress. Those of us who want to govern – on both sides – outnumber the extremists, and now is the moment to take back the reins. Americans need us, as do our allies overseas.”