SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Dear colleagues, friends, and neighbors,
As a state elected official, I am not inclined to publicly weigh in on international issues that are largely out of my purview or power to influence. However, as the conflict in Israel and Palestine grows in escalation, and as my own government and leaders have not acted to end further violence, I feel I must add my voice to those speaking out.
I join with those calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for emergency humanitarian assistance to be provided to all those affected, and for the international community to come together with urgency to begin the serious work of providing meaningful, lasting safety and security for the Israeli and Palestinian people.
The violence of this past week has been gut-wrenching. The massacres and kidnappings committed by Hamas against Israeli civilians last weekend are horrific. There is no justification for the indiscriminate killing of civilians or the holding of civilian hostages. As the week progressed, we saw the beginnings of a violent and terrifying military response from the Israeli military, including using white phosphorus against civilians, killing thousands of Palestinians in bombing attacks on hospitals, universities, and apartment buildings – and blockades stopping the flow of water, food, medical supplies, and electricity into Gaza, a civilian center of over 2 million trapped people, over half of whom are children. These crimes – this violence – must stop.
This week’s violence is not happening in a vacuum. The Israeli government’s actions are a continuation of the Nakba, when in 1948, over 700,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes fleeing violence and tens of thousands of them sought refuge in Gaza. It’s a continuation of years of Israeli occupation and apartheid policies.
It is horrifying to see the loss of Israeli lives being used to justify mass violence and genocide. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that Israel is “fighting human animals,” and should “act accordingly.” As leaders like Gallant and others dehumanize and attempt to erase Palestinian people and their suffering in the media, the U.S. government has continued to fuel Israel’s military, sending weapons and pledging blanket support and international cover for any actions taken by the Israeli government. Far from being helpful, these words and actions only serve to fuel more hate, racism, and division. As a result, just this week, even here in the U.S., we have seen murderous hate crimes perpetrated against Palestinian- American children and families.
I call on the U.S. government to shift course, to aggressively work to de-escalate this conflict, and to seek true justice, through law and international cooperation, toward a lasting peace for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. There is no military solution to this conflict. A future of peace and safety for all, grounded in justice, freedom and equality for all, has been and remains the only option.
Senator Jennifer A. McEwen
Chair Senate Labor Committee
Senate District 8—Duluth