Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
President Joe Biden is right to strongly support Israel after Saturday’s brutal terrorist attacks launched from the Gaza Strip against the Jewish state, saying Tuesday that “we will make sure Israel has what it needs to take care of its citizens, defend itself and respond to this attack.”
The newest war against Israel has so far killed more than 1,200 people there — including at least 14 U.S. citizens — and wounded about 2,900.
Israeli officials said the dead included 40 babies and young children, some with their heads chopped off, slaughtered at Kibbutz Kfar Aza less than a mile from the Gaza border fence. Chillingly, I visited the same kibbutz with a group of American women in 2011.
As many as 150 more people — including Americans — have been taken hostage by the terrorist group Hamas and its allies.
Palestinians say Israeli air strikes on Gaza, which were launched in response to Hamas attacks emanating from the territory it controls, have killed at least 920 people and injured about 4,500. Israel says it targets only terrorists, but Palestinian civilian casualties are inevitable because Hamas fires rockets from apartment buildings, mosques, schools and other civilian areas.
The deaths of noncombatants in Gaza, who are used as human shields by Hamas, are as tragic as the deaths in Israel. Most Palestinians aren’t terrorists and want to live in peace, as do Israelis.
I believe in the two-state solution of a Palestinian state and a Jewish state living side-by-side in peace. But that will be impossible if Hamas and other Palestinians persist in attacks against Israel, inflicting death and destruction not just on Israelis but on Palestinians as well.
In addition to firing thousands of rockets into Israel since Saturday, gun-wielding terrorists overran a music festival and small communities near Gaza when the attacks began, killing, raping and abducting victims who were primarily unarmed civilians. Israel says it has recovered the bodies of 1,500 terrorists on its side of the border with Gaza, in addition to killing hundreds more in air strikes inside Gaza.
Israelis are still taking cover in bomb shelters and may be plunged into a wider war of self-defense against Hamas and perhaps others on their northern border and in the West Bank.
Standing with Israel is necessary because it involves defending American citizens, protecting U.S. national security and supporting an ally. The same issues are at stake with America’s support for Ukraine in its struggle for survival in the face of Russia’s war of aggression.
Neither Ukraine nor Israel are asking for the American military to defend them. But both nations need our weapons and ammunition. We must help them if we are to avoid encouraging further attacks on our friends around the world, whether in Europe by Russia, in the Middle East by Iran (which supports Hamas), or against Taiwan and elsewhere in Asia by China.
Supporting Israel against Hamas — which is dedicated to killing Jews and wiping Israel off the map — is also a moral issue, in the same way as is supporting Black Americans against racist violence. I can’t help seeing the parallels between the Tulsa Race Massacre, for example, and the new round of attacks by Hamas on Israelis.
Rampaging white mobs killed as many as 300 Black people in Tulsa in 1921 and burned down a prosperous Black neighborhood. Like the Ku Klux Klan and other white racist groups that have killed and persecuted Black people for the “crime” of their race, the antisemitic Hamas attacks Jews for the “crime” of re-establishing their ancient homeland.
Black elected officials, from Vice President Kamala Harris on down, are helping mobilize U.S. support for Israel.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said in a statement: “I strongly condemn the violent and ghastly attack by the terrorist organization Hamas on the Jewish people and the State of Israel. … The Congress must stand with Israel until the invasion by Hamas has been crushed and security in Southern Israel and throughout the country has been permanently restored.”
Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, joined with his Republican counterpart in sponsoring a resolution titled “Standing with Israel as it defends itself against the barbaric war launched by Hamas and other terrorists.” Some 392 members of the 435-member House have signed onto the resolution.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was in Israel for meetings when the nation was attacked. He sheltered in Tel Aviv and left for home on Sunday. “I emphatically condemn Hamas’ horrific acts of violence, kidnapping and terror targeting Israeli families, children and other civilians in towns and cities across the nation of Israel,” he said.
In addition, the African American Mayors Association, which represents over 500 mayors, issued a statement Tuesday that said: “The Black and Jewish communities must stand together … We have a long history of fighting bigotry, racism, and extremism, and we will continue to stand with Israel to support them against these acts of terrorism.”
I’ve visited Israel twice and fell in love with the country. The people are warm and welcoming. My visits prompted me to think about the similarities between Black and Jewish people — our common history of enslavement, persecution and overcoming adversity. I also thought about how Jewish Americans played key roles in the Civil Rights Movement, marching with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and working to change U.S. laws for the better.
Today, many Jewish Americans remain committed to Dr. King’s goals of social justice and equality, working as allies of Black Americans. We are brothers and sisters — minorities struggling against prejudice. I am proud to stand with President Biden and so many other Americans of all faiths and races in support of Israel and in opposition to the bloodthirsty terrorist killers who want to destroy the world’s only Jewish state.
Donna Brazile is a veteran political strategist, Senior Advisor at Purple Strategies, New York Times bestselling author, Chair of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, and sought-after Emmy- and Peabody-award-winning media contributor to such outlets as ABC News, USA Today and TheGrio. She previously served as interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee and of the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute. Donna was the first Black American to serve as the manager of a major-party presidential campaign, running the campaign of Vice President Al Gore in 2000. She serves as an adjunct professor in the Women and Gender Studies Department at Georgetown University and served as the King Endowed Chair in Public Policy at Howard University and as a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. She has lectured at nearly 250 colleges and universities on diversity, equity and inclusion; women in leadership; and restoring civility in American politics.
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