update deskU.S. News

Fetterman directs anti-Israel protesters to others, ‘We’re not changing’

“I’ve been very clear,” the Pennsylvania senator said, waving a small Israeli flag. “Very clear.”

The 2019 inauguration of Gov. Tom Wolf and Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman on Jan. 15, 2019 in Harrisburg, Pa. Credit: Gov. Tom Wolf.
The 2019 inauguration of Gov. Tom Wolf and Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman on Jan. 15, 2019 in Harrisburg, Pa. Credit: Gov. Tom Wolf.

Clad in a dark hoodie and shorts and holding a miniature Israeli flag, Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) emerges from his office to engage with a small group of anti-Israel protesters. The first thing he does, in video footage that circulated widely on social media, is direct activists to the offices of colleagues.

“We’re not changing, so there might be more different people that you may want to [be] protesting around,” said the senator, whose speech has been imprecise since a May 2022 stroke. “I’ve been very clear. Very clear.”

“I’m going to respect your views. I ask you to respect mine,” Fetterman says.

“I’m a Palestinian,” one woman says. Another says to the senator, “That’s an inhumane view.”

“I’m a Palestinian. Why can’t you look me in the face?” a woman asks.

“I’m a constituent,” another woman insists.

“Pro-genocide is not a view,” a man says as Fetterman walks away, closing the door to his office.

A woman calls him a coward.

Another woman, apparently in uniform, says, “I’m a military—I’m an intelligence officer.” Moments later, the woman says, “I’m an intelligence officer. I demand to speak with him.”

According to a U.S. Department of Defense directive on “Political activities by members of the armed forces,” members of the military can participate in “local nonpartisan political activity,” but they “shall not wear a uniform or use any government property or facilities while participating.”

Members of the military on active duty “engaging in permissible political activities” must “refrain from participating in any political activity while in military uniform,” the directive adds.

It wasn’t immediately clear when the video was recorded. 

A U.S. defense official told JNS that the U.S. Department of Defense “has a longstanding policy of encouraging military personnel to carry out the obligations of citizenship.”

“Any activity that may be reasonably viewed as directly or indirectly associating the DoD with a partisan political activity or is otherwise contrary to the directive shall be avoided as outlined in DoD directive 1344.10,” the official told JNS.  

Per the directive, “Service members of both active and reserve components, to include retired service members, are prohibited from wearing the uniform ‘during or in connection with furthering political activities … when an inference of official sponsorship by DoD or the military service concerned for the activity or interest may be drawn,'” the official added.

On Sunday, Fetterman posted on social media repeatedly about Israel.

“At any point, Hamas could have ended this burgeoning tragedy to surrender and release every hostage. Now, they’re unwilling to provide a list of any surviving hostages,” he wrote. “Hamas is anathema to peace for Gaza. Hamas instigated and owns this humanitarian catastrophe.”

“Demand Hamas to surrender. Demand release every hostage. Demand to seize billions of dollars Hamas stole from Gaza,” he added. “Demand those stolen billions to rebuild Gaza and compensate true victims- Israelis and Palestinians. Demand Hamas eliminated or permanently exiled.”

In a third post, Fetterman wrote in response to a Reuters article titled “Israeli military review of Gaza aid convoy deaths finds most killed in stampede.”

“I’ll always take the word of our ally over a group of cowards that hide in tunnels behind civilians and hold children, women and elderly hostage since Oct. 7,” Fetterman wrote. “Back then, they also blamed the hospital rocket hit on Israel; it was proven to be a Hamas ally.”

In a fourth post, he shared a screenshot of an NBC News article titled “Gaza hospital blast likely a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket misfire, U.S. officials say.”

“Never let evidence or facts get in your way,” Fetterman wrote.

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