Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks yesterday at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations' National Leadership Assembly. Below is a transcript of his remarks and a link to the video:
Click here to watch the video.
“Good afternoon. It is a serious time in which we meet. It is a time when history will record that we had the resolve to prevail, or we did not. Today, all of us are standing together in concern and support for our friends in Israel, for our ally in Israel, for a nation whose survival and security is absolutely essential to the survival and security of the United States of America. We are united in determination to protect their communities from the horrific scourge of Hamas rockets.
“On December 7 or a few days thereafter, Franklin Roosevelt came to the chamber of the House of Representatives, and he said that December 7 would live as a day of infamy. Tragically, the world has seen, and Israel has experienced, days of infamy. Day after day after day of infamy. And their response has appropriately been as determined as our response was to that day of infamy. And it was not to respond temporarily. It was to remove the cause of the day of infamy.
“As near to the Gaza border as Sderot and as far as Haifa, Israelis have been running to bomb shelters with just seconds worth of warning. No people should be forced to live under these conditions, and Israel has every right – you have heard it over and over again from Republican and Democratic leaders – every right to defend itself and to end Hamas's reign of terror – not to temporarily suspend but to end.
“After the last agreement to end fighting in Gaza allowed concrete to be imported, instead of using it to make life better for Gazans, Hamas used it build bunkers for its leaders and tunnels to kill or kidnap Israeli citizens. In a clear show of Hamas’s intent, Israeli forces found zip-ties and tranquilizers ready to use for future kidnappings and terrorist raids. When this ground fighting ends, it is imperative that Hamas is not able to rearm, rebuild its tunnels, and continue posing a threat to Israeli communities and to the stability of the Middle East.
“No nation, no people, no individual can be expected to stop defending itself as it is under attack, not just Israel, not just a nation, any entity that is continually attacked. At the same time, we must recognize that there are no easy solutions in Gaza, and every civilian death, as Senator Cardin said – even though Hamas is responsible – will create more terrorists. That is why any permanent cease-fire must, as you have heard over and over again – the Speaker and, I'm sure, my friend, the next Majority Leader to-be in just a few days, Mr. McCarthy, will say the same thing. The only alternative – not the best alternative, the only alternative – is the demilitarization of Gaza.
“If there is to be a political solution, it is imperative that Hamas is disarmed and the people of Gaza are convinced that their path to a better future lies not with those who use concrete for tunnels and bunkers, but for those, who as said in the Wall Street Journal wrote on July 27, that build schools and public investments and invest in businesses.
“None of us – it says here ‘I have not heard.’ None of us have heard nearly enough from the United Nations about Hamas’s perfidy and this blatant and deliberate violation of international and humanitarian law. Innocent life lost is a terrible tragedy, and in this case, there must be no doubt who bears the responsibility for civilian deaths, and that, of course, is Hamas and its sponsor, Iran.
“It has been said over and over, but it must be repeated by all of us, that Hamas continues to use Gazans as human shields, and when Israel warns them to evacuate, Hamas orders them to stay, prevents them from leaving, because their loss of life is perceived by Hamas – its own people's loss of life – is perceived by Hamas to be another small victory in its effort. And it bars journalists from investigating abuses of Gaza civilians. The refrain from Israel’s critics that Hamas has no choice but to use rockets as a weapon of desperation is, quite frankly, preposterous. Preposterous.
“Hamas has many avenues to seek peace and maliciously rejects them again and again and again. They have rockets and tunnels of terror and kidnappings.
“You are telling me to stop – I have just got a little more to say. And because I have got just a little more to say, I am not going to follow your instructions –any more than I want Israel to stop. There is no moral equivalency, Senator Cardin said it. Everybody agrees. Indeed, my friends, there is a moral disconnect between purveyors of terror and defenders of people. Israel’s right, and, indeed, it’s obligation is to defend its people.
“Article 51 of the United Nations Charter affirms this, and I quote: ‘inherent right …to self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a member.’ How more clear can it be that Israel acts not only from a moral perspective but under the Charter of the United Nations? America would do no less, and the Congress of the United States will continue to stand by its ally, Israel, as it takes the necessary steps to protect its people.
“In my thirteen trips to Israel – and I have brought over 150 Members of the Congress of the United States to Israel – I have seen firsthand the challenges Israel faces. History has afforded the State of Israel a historic mission to protect the Jewish people and enable them to seek a peaceful life in the homeland to which they returned following centuries of bitter exile.
“No movement or ideology, no force of arms or threat of terror can shake the determination among extraordinary people to build a strong and free democracy in their ancient homeland and to continue serving as a light unto the nations of the world.
“I stand with all of you today, and we stand with Israel. Indeed, we stand with all peoples in all the world against those who would by terror and force of arms undermine their security and their safety.
“I want to close with this – Michael Oren wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post just a few days ago and he pointed out that our responsibility as a nation and as an international community is ‘to ensure that this war concludes with a categorical Israeli win is in the world’s fundamental interest.’ If the terrorists think they will win, they will never cease putting us at risk.
“And so we stand in the world's fundamental interest. May God give those who fight against the terrorists of this world strength, tenacity, and our support.”