The following is an op-ed written by Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) published in the Spokesman-Review on Sunday, November 25, 2023.
Prior to Tuesday’s agreement that will see the release of 50 hostages, approximately 240 innocent Jews were being held against their will by Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Their families, some of which I recently had the opportunity to meet on Capitol Hill, are wondering if they will ever see their loved ones again. I could see the grief and sorrow in their eyes. It was devastating; a piece of their soul was missing, like a light had gone out in their hearts. As a mom – and a human being – I felt the depths of their despair and the unimaginable weight of their burden.
Unfortunately, their nightmare is not over yet, as the safe return of all other hostages is far from guaranteed. Hamas has shown the world their essence, their core, and it is very scary. On Oct. 7, we watched in horror as these enemies of Israel conducted a surprise attack in the early morning of a Jewish holiday. They came by land, air and sea, launching a barrage of rockets into Jerusalem and hunting down unsuspecting civilians in their homes and even in their bedrooms.
Their plan was calculated. It was deliberate. Women were raped, babies beheaded and people were indiscriminately tortured and butchered. It took but a few short hours for Hamas to carry out their horrendous deeds, resulting in the slaughtering of 1,400 innocent people, including 30 American citizens.
This full-scale assault on the state of Israel and the Jewish people was a bloodbath unlike anything the world has seen since the darkest days of the Holocaust.
Throughout our nation’s history, there have been moments where strong moral clarity propelled us to a brighter future, where freedom and love prevailed over tyranny and hate. Times when, together, we stood shoulder-to-shoulder to call evil what it was – evil – and committed ourselves to doing everything in our power to root it out and destroy it.
This is one of those times.
For the victims, their families and the state of Israel, the United States must lead with conviction. We cannot be afraid to call Hamas what it is – a group of Iranian-backed terrorists who have committed and condone atrocities. Their sole mission is to destroy Israel, the land established to be a safe haven for the Jewish people 75 years ago.
We must be resolute and unwavering in support of our ally in their critical hour. This should not be controversial or political. But evil does not rest and it has wasted no time casting its dark shadow over some of those around us. In the days since the atrocities of Oct. 7, antisemitism has reared its ugly head across our country, including on our most prestigious college campuses. Jewish students and faculty are being targeted, cornered and threatened.
Pro-Hamas protesters have taken to the streets with their misplaced morality, masquerading as supportive and inclusive, while using fear and intimidation to bully those who stand with Israel. They came to my office in Spokane armed with their signs and slogans. They descended on our nation’s capital, cloaking their hate with criticisms of the Israeli government. They came chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which is nothing more than a thinly-veiled call for the extinction of all Jews.
While the mainstream media often reports these protests to be peaceful, many are not.
A 69-year old Jewish man died after a clash of demonstrations in California. Last week, the U.S. Capitol was placed on lockdown as a violent mob of protesters tried to take over the Democratic National Committee building. Capitol Police officers, protecting members of Congress inside, were physically assaulted and pepper sprayed.
These people claim to want a lasting ceasefire, but these are not calls for peace. By conveniently turning a blind eye and asking Israel to lay down their arms, they are only emboldening Hamas to unleash more merciless attacks. They are advocating for history to repeat itself.
So no, there will be no ceasefire. The United States of America will continue to stand with Israel as they fight against this unspeakable evil. We will lead with the courage necessary to make sure every single hostage is accounted for. Until then, we will continue to say what we know is true: Israel has the absolute right to defend itself – today, tomorrow and always.
Let me be very clear to those protesting at my office and chanting in the streets:
Israel has a right to exist, and I will forever support and defend its right to exist against those who stand in the public square today, justifying terrorism and excusing the rape and murder of innocent civilians.
Those who feel differently sadly lack the moral clarity required to call out evil and meet this defining moment in history.