Rep. Nadler’s Remarks at Today’s JCRC Event on Israel and Gaza

Jul 14, 2014 Issues: Foreign Affairs/Israel

Israel has had to fight for its right to exist in security and peace. Wars have been launched, intifadas organized, and campaigns orchestrated to try to destabilize and to destroy Israel, all aiming at the destruction of the state of Israel and the murder of its people. Today, and over the last few weeks, we have watched as Israel has been forced to defend itself against a campaign of hundreds and hundreds of rockets aimed at its civilian populations.

We have seen three Israeli teenagers, and one Palestinian teenager, kidnapped and murdered. We are outraged and disgusted by all of those who would take the lives of innocent children. For those of us who still hold out hope for a peaceful two-state solution, these have been very dark days. But instead of taking a moment to mourn and to seek peace, Hamas has restarted a campaign to kill civilians, as many civilians as they can manage to kill. These terrorists, Hamas, are willing to stop at nothing to see even more bloodshed.

I unequivocally condemn the indiscriminate launching of rockets from Gaza. Especially during this unending barrage of rockets against innocent civilians, we must continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel, and in support of Israel’s right to defend itself and to take whatever measure she deems necessary to defend the population against the attempted murder by these terrorists.

As long as the rocket attacks continue, Israel must take any necessary steps to protect its population -- any other country would. Even as Hamas seeks its destruction, and hides behind children, Israel tries to minimize civilian casualties through highly targeted strikes and by calling in and leafleting locals before carrying out military action. Israel has gone far beyond what we have seen any other country do trying to protect the civilian population of its enemy.

That human lives have been lost in the process is a tragedy, but that is entirely Hamas’ fault, not Israel’s. Hamas, not Israel, is responsible for Palestinian civilian casualties. When Hamas launches rockets at Israel, and places those rockets, and places its munitions, and places its weapons dumps in civilian areas -- in schools and mosques -- it invites, it forces the results of civilian casualties. No matter how many steps Israel takes to minimize civilian casualties, it cannot avoid all the civilian casualties when it is attempting to defend itself against those rockets.

Those of us who have long advocated a peaceful solution must continue to hope, for the sake of civilians on both sides, that this current conflict ends swiftly. But Israel must defend her population. Israel must defend against Hamas. Hamas bears all the moral responsibility for the deaths of the Palestinian civilians.

Our enemies have sought the destruction of the Jewish people for thousands of years. Much of the opposition we are seeing to Israel and its policies, much of what you hear out there, is no more than a new face of a very, very old hatred of a very old evil. We have persevered throughout history, and we will continue to do so.