A bipartisan group of 20 New Jersey legislators are urging the State Senate and Assembly to support Israel’s position on the conflict in Gaza and condemn the terrorism of Hamas.
The resolution was introduced Sept. 11 in the Assembly and was sent to the Senate four days later.
Supporters gathered at a State House press conference on Sept. 15 to speak in its support. The gathering was convened by the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations.
“The United States has been involved in trying to stop the violence and to bring about lasting peace and security in the region,” said State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Dist. 3). “We support these efforts and the right of the State of Israel to defend itself against these attacks,” he said.
“The possibility of ‘quiet’ in Gaza is certainly welcome,” said Mark Levenson, president of the State Association, which represents 11 federations throughout New Jersey.
Chiding the media for “significant misinformation,” Levenson said the resolutions “set the record straight. Israel’s moral compass has always been set at peace with its neighbors, but the same cannot be said of Hamas, while it continues to actively seek the destruction of Israel.”
“The ability of our friend Israel to defend itself against terrorism is a fundamental right necessary to guarantee it can survive as a free society,” said Assemblyman Chris Brown (R-Dist. 2), a prime sponsor of the resolution. “The ability of our friend Israel to defend itself against terrorism is a fundamental right necessary to guarantee it can survive as a free society.”
Emphasizing the bipartisan support for the resolutions, prime sponsor Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Dist. 36) said, “America’s historic relationship with the State of Israel is one that transcends political party and at its core recognizes the inextricable links that bind us as Americans and Israelis together.”
Another prime sponsor, Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Dist. 13), said the resolution “recognizes that Israel has made comprehensive peace offers in the past,” and that “in light of New Jersey’s shared humanitarian values with Israel, it is important that we speak out that Hamas does not share those values.”
The legislators also called for additional U.S. government support of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense systems, as well as enforced demilitarization of Hamas.
Other prime sponsors of the Assembly measure are John Wisniewski (D-Dist. 19) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Dist. 15).
Prime sponsors of the Senate resolution include Sweeney, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Dist. 37), and Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Dist. 40.)
“The only democratic state in the Middle East, which is the only Jewish state in the world, has a right to defend itself against a prevalent wave of deadly anti-Semitic terrorism,” O’Toole said. “Israel continues to demonstrate a proactive will for peace and protecting innocent people. But those efforts are met with nothing but deadly attacks by Hamas, while it does the unthinkable by using its own people as human shields….”
“New Jersey has had a long-standing relationship with the State of Israel and its citizens,” said Weinberg. “This resolution will add our voices in support of Israel to defend its people against these indefensible acts, as well as the effort to protect its citizens from all threats.”
Amir Sagie, deputy consul general of Israel in New York, said he was there “to strongly express the gratitude of the Israeli people for this show of support and these meaningful resolutions…. It is a unique pleasure to join hands with our partners in New Jersey, the one state that we compare to Israel more than any other, not just because of the relative size, but because we are inextricably linked together in our profound belief in freedom and respect for democracy.”