Washington, DC – Today, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries released the following statement marking one month since the horrific events of October 7th:
On October 7, exactly one month ago today, Hamas committed horrific atrocities and acts of terrorism against Israel, murdering more than 1,400 people in what amounted to the largest loss of Jewish life in one day since the Holocaust. People of goodwill should unequivocally condemn this vile terrorism, as well as the deeply disturbing rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia in America. We must also respect the right of a sovereign country like Israel to defend its citizens while making clear that the international rules of war related to Palestinian civilians in Gaza should be meticulously followed.
Israel has an absolute right to exist as a Jewish, Democratic state and the ancestral homeland for the Jewish people who have faced pogroms, persecution and antisemitism for centuries. The State of Israel, a safe haven for Jews, was viciously attacked on October 7. Echoing slogans that are widely understood as calling for the complete destruction of Israel – such as from the River to the Sea – does not advance progress toward a two-state solution. Instead, it unacceptably risks further polarization, division and incitement to violence. There are millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who legitimately aspire to peaceful self-determination and economic dignity. The continued presence of Hamas undermines that cause, further making clear that the ongoing effort to decisively defeat this brutal terrorist regime must succeed.
The Biden administration is also working on a humanitarian pause to surge food, water, medical supplies and other forms of relief to Palestinian civilians who are in harm’s way through no fault of their own. This is an important step in the midst of the fog of war, where thousands of civilians have tragically been killed and hundreds of hostages remain in peril. Congress must now do its part by passing emergency legislation that provides support for Israel and Ukraine as well as the resources needed to deliver humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians.
As public officials serving in Congress, the words we choose matter. It is my strong belief that we must all take care to respect each other personally, even when strongly disagreeing on matters of policy or legislation. We should be able to agree to disagree on domestic or foreign policy issues, without being disagreeable with each other or the President of the United States. If the end goal following the defeat of Hamas and safe return of all hostages is a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinian people, as I believe it should be, ad hominem attacks against colleagues will never accomplish that objective.
The searing moment of turbulence in our society and throughout the world calls for us to tackle the challenges we confront in a serious, sober and substantive manner. Let us all recommit to doing just that for the good of everyone.