WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. — Over the past few days, I have struggled to figure out what to say about the unspeakable events in Israel. Because my heart is broken. I don’t know that I have much that is groundbreaking to add, but I feel a responsibility to offer my constituents, so many of whom are touched by the ongoing violence, my thoughts on the situation.
First, the atrocities committed by Hamas in Israel feel genocidal. They hunted Jews like trophies. Decapitated babies. Executed savtahs. I saw a photo of a young couple my age who had been burned alive. Their flesh had completely carbonized. You could see the expression on their faces as they died, turned upwards to the sky in pain, their eyes wide and mouths open, screaming in agony. The notion that this past Saturday saw the most Jews murdered since the Holocaust is incomprehensible.
So, what can I say? As a state representative? As a Jew? How about as a human being? Words fail me in a way they never have before. The State of Israel is the last redoubt of the Jewish people, and Jews in Michigan and across the world will come to Israel’s aid and defense until our dying breath.
I am proud to be a Jew. I am proud to be a Zionist. And I am proud and honored to represent the most Jewish state house district in Michigan. My constituents in Greater West Bloomfield know that I will always stand with Israel, even as I will not always agree with its leaders. And my constituents know that I stand, too, with my many Arab and Muslim neighbors who see themselves reflected in Palestinians’ suffering.
Before I ran for office, before I even became involved with domestic politics or the Democratic Party, my focus was on Israel advocacy, particularly advocacy in support of a two-state solution. I knew in my bones that the founding of the State of Israel is one of the greatest achievements of human history, the redemption of a people back to their native land, after surviving genocide in Eastern Europe and expropriation, persecution, and expulsion in Arab lands. But, I did not grow up in an environment that naturally exposed me to Palestinian experiences. I sought that history out. I did the work. I learned that Palestinians’ struggle for self-determination is a just one.
But the atrocities committed by Hamas this weekend were not in furtherance of the goal of Palestinian self-determination. Hamas has never championed a two-state solution. Hamas has never championed a democratic Palestinian state. Hamas has only ever championed an Islamic theocracy consecrated by the blood of 8 million Jews. A second Holocaust, if you will. The atrocities on Saturday mark the opening salvo in that effort.
Meanwhile, Hamas does not represent the vast majority of Palestinians. As ever, Hamas holds the people of Gaza hostage, leading them not to freedom, dignity, and prosperity, but to death and despair. And my heart aches for the loss of life that has occurred and will continue to occur in Gaza.
But to those who seem completely incapable of condemning these brutal terrorist attacks, these atrocities, these crimes against humanity, I have nothing to say. To those who glorify the murder of Jews, to those who argue that these unspeakable crimes (rape, beheading infants, gunning down concertgoers) are merely the justified and inexorable primal screams of a downtrodden and oppressed people, I ask, where has your humanity gone?
The Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah, “The Hope,” says “our hope is not yet lost, our hope of 2,000 years, to be a nation, free in our own land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.” I pray for an end to violence. I pray for peace. I pray that one day the Jewish people may live freely, in peace, dignity, sovereignty, and security. And I pray the same for the Palestinian people. I pray that every terrorist who impedes the path to peace and security finds that we will outlive them.
עם ישראל חי. Am Yisrael Chai. The Nation of Israel lives.