New York Congressman Ritchie Torres rebuked a handful of his fellow House Democrats in a statement Sunday over what he said were “repulsive” comments regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On Saturday, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an unprecedented attack against Israel, killing more than 1,100 people and leading to a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military. The White House has said that it “unequivocally condemns” the attack, and President Joe Biden said Sunday that the U.S. will be sending additional assistance to Israeli forces as they battle Hamas.
Other prominent Democrats and Republicans have also stood firm in the U.S.’s position as an ally to Israel. But some House Democrats have come under fire for their response to the conflict, including Missouri Congresswoman Cori Bush, who released a statement Saturday calling for an “immediate ceasefire and de-escalation” of the conflict.
“Our immediate focus must be saving lives, but our ultimate focus must be on a just and lasting peace that ensures safety for everyone in the region,” Bush wrote. “Violations of human rights do not justify more violations of human rights, and a military response will only exacerbate the suffering of Palestinians and Israelis alike.
“As part of achieving a just and lasting peace, we must do our part to stop this violence and trauma by ending U.S. government support for Israeli military occupation and apartheid,” she added.
Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat and frequent outspoken critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, released a statement Sunday also calling for peace and “lifting the blockade, ending the occupation, and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance.”
“The failure to recognize the violent reality of living under siege, occupation, and apartheid makes no one safer,” Tlaib added. “We cannot ignore the humanity in each other. As long as our country provides billions in unconditional funding to support the apartheid government, this heartbreaking cycle of violence will continue.
Torres, in a statement shared with Jewish Insider reporter Marc Rod, ripped Bush and Tlaib’s comments and restated his support for U.S. aid to Israel.
“U.S. aid to Israel is and should be unconditional, and never more so than in this moment of critical need,” Torres wrote. “Congress must act decisively to provide Israel with whatever it needs to defend itself in the face of unprecedented terrorism.
“Shame on anyone who glorifies as ‘resistance’ the largest single-day mass murder of Jews since the Holocaust,” Torres added. “It is reprehensible and repulsive.”
New Jersey Democratic Representative Josh Gottheimer also responded to Bush and Tlaib’s comments, telling Jewish Insider, “It sickens me that while Israelis clean the blood of their family members shot in their homes, they believe Congress should strip U.S. funding to our democratic ally and allow innocent civilians to suffer.”
Newsweek reached out to Bush and Tlaib’s offices for comment via email Monday afternoon.
Torres also spoke out against a pro-Palestine rally hosted by the New York branch of the Democratic Socialist of America (NYC-DSA) on Sunday, stating that the organization was “revealing itself for what it truly is: an antisemitic stain on the soul of America’s largest city.” New York Governor Kathy Hocul, a Democrat, also criticized the group.
Over 1,000 supporters joined in at the rally, reported Politico, and chanted as they marched, “Resistance is justified when people are occupied.” A pro-Israel rally also gathered in Manhattan at the same time. New York is home to the largest population of Jews outside of Israel.