Our Letter to Constituents on the War Between Israel and Hamas (1/12/24)

Jan 12, 2024
Israel

Thousands of constituents have weighed in on the war between Israel and Hamas, and we absolutely listen and absorb the feedback.

Everyone gets a letter, which we wanted to share.

Folks write in or call in to push for peace, support for Israel, support for Palestinians, getting the hostages home, especially the children, a ceasefire, pauses to the conflict, and humanitarian assistance.

We try and respond to the specific feedback, but everyone gets a version of the following:

Thank you again for reaching out to us. We really do appreciate you and your advocacy for a ceasefire. It’s impossible to watch the loss of innocent lives and not want this war to end.

I wanted to share a few updates.

As you may know, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is in talks with Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Israel, and the West Bank. The goals, which I strongly support, are to bring this war to an end, expedite much-needed humanitarian aid into Gaza, and prevent an escalation of the conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon. We must also focus on securing post-conflict commitments to rebuild Gaza and start Israel and Palestinians on the path to sustained peace and a two-state solution.x

To further these efforts, I have been in close contact with the White House as well as the Israeli and Qatari ambassadors. I’m also having additional conversations with ambassadors from Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Turkey,  Egypt, and Bahrain. I will be visiting the region soon, and I hope to visit Palestinian leaders in the West Bank as part of the trip. My intent is to play a meaningful role in support of the efforts I have laid out here.

I strongly believe that Israel has the right to defend itself, and I also know that we must push for the most surgical approach to removing Hamas from power. From my conversations with U.S. leaders and foreign partners, I know the shared desire in the coming weeks is to try to bring the initial phase of this war to an end. We are already seeing signs of this, with fewer air strikes and the pulling back of Israeli soldiers from Gaza.

Many of you have called for an unconditional ceasefire, and that I understand. Another ceasefire is being negotiated, and I’m very supportive of that effort. I also support a permanent ceasefire — with a resolution that removes Hamas from power and returns hostages home safely. 

It may be impossible to completely remove Hamas from Gaza, but leaving them in power would be a terrible outcome for everyone — for Palestinians in Gaza as well as for Israelis. Ensuring Hamas is no longer governing Gaza, with new Palestinian leadership in charge, does appear closer than many might believe.

I do care deeply about this and have enormous empathy for everyone suffering. Those who know me know that this is true.

I also want to offer a few thoughts on the issue of Islamophobia and antisemitism, as this has also come up in letters and discussions I’ve had with folks.

A few members of Congress recently introduced and touted a bill that would “expel Palestinians from the United States.” This is un-American, and I am leading the effort in the House to condemn this dangerous and Islamophobic agenda and rhetoric.

I have also been outspoken when it comes to the explosion of antisemitism here at home.

To be clear, there is nothing antisemitic about criticizing Israel. But for me and many others (though not all Jews), denying Jews a state — the definition of anti-Zionism — can certainly be antisemitic. Again, not all Jews believe this to be true. I do, and that’s why I have taken the votes I have.

Similarly, I believe it is anti-Palestinian to say that Palestinians should not have a state of their own. I am and will always be a strong advocate for a two-state solution, and I will continue to push forcefully for this outcome in the months and years ahead.

And while I voted to table the motion to censure Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, I voted yes once it was in front of me. I grew up only hearing “River to the Sea” from those determined to eliminate Israel. The normalizing of this ideology is a terrifying thing for Jews in the United States and Israel.

While most appreciate the seriousness of the rise of antisemitism, some have suggested that antisemitism is being “weaponized”. My intent is not to weaponize antisemitism. My goal is to raise awareness and to remind us that conspiracies implicating Jews as murderers — or blood libel — are a big part of our history.

To imply that Israel’s war against Hamas is actually an attempt to eliminate Palestinians in Gaza assigns an incorrect intent to Israel’s actions. While there have been awful comments by some in the Israeli government — comments I strongly denounce — the elimination of the Palestinian people is not Israel’s intent; rather, it is the elimination of the threat posed by Hamas. 

I am grateful that the U.S. State Department called out the “inflammatory and irresponsible” rhetoric of right-wingers within the Israeli government who have made these comments. While these particular right-wingers are not involved in decision-making in Gaza, their comments undermine the shared mission of ending this war and establishing a broad international coalition to invest in post-conflict work.

Israeli government officials, who are key decision-makers, have made it clear that the goal of the war is to remove Hamas from power. They have also said that Israel is fighting Hamas, not the Palestinian population, and has no intention of occupying Gaza or permanently displacing citizens. Six field hospitals have been set up in Gaza, and thousands of trucks of humanitarian aid have and will continue to be delivered.

Ending this war and beginning the crucial work to rebuild Gaza are hugely important to me. I’m committed to playing a productive and significant role in it. 

For those of you who have joined one of our many community discussions or stopped me on the street, thank you. I’ve had so many healthy and productive discussions, and I really appreciate each and every one of them.

Thanks again, and please do not hesitate to reach out with anything at all. We’re here to help.

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