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At Israel solidarity event, congressmen voice impassioned support for war against Hamas

“There isn’t a department or agency of the federal government that doesn’t now have its own woke commissar enforcing these bad ideologies, which grant a permission slip to antisemitism,” said Jonathan Tobin.

Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.), a former Navy SEAL, speaks at 
Solidarity with Israel hosted by the International Leaders Summit on Capitol Hill on Dec. 12, 2023. Credit: David Anand/International Leaders Summit.
Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.), a former Navy SEAL, speaks at Solidarity with Israel hosted by the International Leaders Summit on Capitol Hill on Dec. 12, 2023. Credit: David Anand/International Leaders Summit.

Republican members of Congress joined faith leaders, members of the pro-Israel community in Washington and Jonathan Tobin, editor-in-chief of JNS, to voice impassioned support for Israel at a solidarity meeting on Capitol Hill last week.

Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.), a former Navy SEAL, explained to attendees why he felt compelled to travel to Israel just two weeks after Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

“In 2014, when I retired from the SEAL teams, I made a solemn promise to the Jewish people that if anything like Oct. 7 were to happen that I would do my best to aid Israel,” he said. “I failed to mention this to my wife.” 

“So when I was bucking to get out of here, she said, ‘Why are you going back into an uncertain combat zone?’” he added. “I told her I made this oath, and then my wife asked me, ‘Why are you still here?’ That is a SEAL team wife.”

Van Orden said that what he saw of the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks was “horrific, indescribable, vicious and evil.” He described the advice he gave young Israelis during his trip about the need to confront Hamas.

“Young people your age, Jewish people, are going to be exposed to things that no child should ever have to be exposed to,” Van Orden said. “You’re gonna have to do things that no child should ever have to do. But if you don’t, you will be eradicated as a people.”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Reps. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) and Mike Bost (R-Ill.) were among the other speakers at the Dec. 12 Solidarity with Israel event, which was hosted by International Leaders Summit, Jerusalem Leaders Summit and America’s Roundtable.

Speaking on a panel about eradicating terrorism and confronting antisemitism alongside Rabbi Randall Brown, Jonathan Tobin, editor-in-chief of JNS, reflected on how to battle entrenched antisemitism within the American establishment.

“The most important thing we need is courage,” Tobin said. “There isn’t a department or agency of the federal government that doesn’t now have its own woke commissar enforcing these bad ideologies, which grant a permission slip to antisemitism. We need the courage to speak back, to speak up and speak against it.”

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