“I must say that Hamas’s hostage-taking constitutes a war crime and what we saw on the 7th of October was an attack and affront to humanity; and the violence, and hostility that we saw; just unbelievable, should never be accepted ever.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the recent Israel-Palestine Conflict.
The world watched with horror as the conflict between Israel and Palestine intensified over the past few weeks. The grim toll stands testament to the urgency with which we must address the humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes: 1,400 individuals killed in a Hamas-initiated assault, and 200 taken hostage. Israel’s retaliation has resulted in 4,651 Palestinian deaths, including a heartbreaking number of children and women. On the other side, Israeli casualties have surpassed 1,400.
In these trying times, we must lean into compassion, clarity, and a steadfast commitment to justice. The crisis in the Middle East, replete with the tragic loss of innocent lives, demands our collective action and introspection. Conversations about Israel and Palestine have long been divisive, yet the undeniable human rights crisis confronting Palestinians, particularly their dwindling access to basic essentials, must be addressed with urgency.
“I’m just going to say that upfront, and frankly that’s a big reason why I think so many people have been silent around the human rights crisis that Palestinians face… but I think that moment is changing.”
This is not about taking sides. Supporting a ceasefire is not about favoring one party over the other but is fundamentally about valuing human life. Alongside 17 fellow members of Congress, I’ve co-sponsored a resolution for an immediate ceasefire. We advocate for halting hostilities and ending the punitive blockade on Gaza, affecting its 2.2 million residents.
Hamas’s hostage-taking is unequivocally a war crime. But no transgression, no matter how egregious, can justify the wide-scale punitive measures that affect millions. “The idea that 2.2 million people must starve and be exposed to diseases, no water and more… the idea that that should happen as punishment for Hamas is wrong.”
Engaging with families who have lost loved ones to this conflict underscores the severity of the situation. The testimonies of children witnessing their parents’ brutal murders are gut-wrenching, emphasizing the human cost of this strife. Yet, these heinous acts cannot justify other atrocities. “Israel dropped more bombs in a week than US dropped in Afghanistan in a year; what we are seeing here is indiscriminate.” citing The Washington Post, Marc Garlasco, a military adviser at the Dutch organization PAX for Peace, reported that Israel is “dropping in less than a week what the US was dropping in Afghanistan in a year, in a much smaller, much more densely populated area, where mistakes are going to be magnified.”
Thankfully, the tide of public opinion is changing. “In my 5 years in Congress, I got almost no calls… in the last two weeks week and a half hundreds of calls hundreds if not past Beyond a thousand at this point from my own constituents.” Civic engagement, a cornerstone of our democracy, is manifesting itself in powerful ways.
Debating the role of militant groups like Hamas should not eclipse the overarching human rights issues. It’s vital to differentiate between an organization’s actions and the broader civilian population’s plight. “Palestinians are not Hamas our shared humanity is what gives us hope.”
Any push for de-escalation must not be misconstrued as a stance in favor of terrorism. “When anyone says that anyone who is advocating for a de-escalation of violence is on the side of terrorism & Hamas, I think we need to really understand how disgusting of an accusation that is you can disagree with a ceasefire 100% that’s well within your right; but the idea that people who are advocating for the safety of children and, an end to occupation are on the side of terrorists; we need to take a step back and talk about this critique”.
Our democracy, founded on principles of justice, humanity, and lawfulness, should be our compass in these trying times. “What makes democracies different… in times of War, we should be upholding our Democratic principles and be an example to the world.”
Public support for peace is evident, with 66% of Americans endorsing a ceasefire. In these times of division, we must remember that our shared values transcend borders and politics. “It is so important for us to Center our Humanity here. Israeli people are not the Israeli government. Palestinians are not Hamas.”
I would just say to not relent in your Civic organizing and do not you know don’t buckle to cynicism. Call your member of Congress
Now, more than ever, we must be proactive. We must rally against bigotry, including the alarming rise in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. It’s incumbent upon us to stay informed, empathetic and engaged. Only through united efforts can we hope for a just, peaceful, and brighter future.