Jerusalem Post - Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman (Calif.) told a room of other Congresspeople and pro-Israel Jewish and Christian activists on Tuesday evening that there can be no ceasefire in Gaza until the Hamas terrorist organization is eliminated.
"Ultimately, we have to do the job - to see the Middle East without Hamas," Sherman, co-chair of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus, said.
Sherman was one of four keynote Congressional speakers at a reception hosted in the Capitol by the Israel Allies Foundation and the Jerusalem Post. The intimate event was meant to bring critical Congressional voices into one room to hear from the family members of hostages and Hamas terror victims and to discuss the detailed rise in antisemitism in America and the world.
The other Congressional speakers included Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Brad Schneider (IL-10), and Chris Smith (NJ-10). Others, including Reps. Steve Cohen (D), Mike Lawler (R), Kathy Manning (D), Bill Johnson (R), Kat Cammack (R), Maria Salazar (R) were also in attendance.
"When Hamas decided to go further [and carry out the October 7 attack], they knew they would die, and they are dying by the thousands now thanks to the IDF," Sherman said. "But they were willing to do it to put those pictures on screens worldwide and mobile phones."We had a ceasefire on October 6, and then Hamas exploded out of Gaza," Sherman continued.
He said that Israel must complete their work in Gaza before a ceasefire allows the terrorist organization to regroup, citing a high-level Hamas official who told the Arab press, "We need another October 7 and another one after that and another one after that until Israel is destroyed."
The White House has mostly stood by Israel's request not to stop fighting in Gaza. However, US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had pushed for "humanitarian pauses" to allow Gazan civilians pockets of quiet.
Israel had initially argued against even those windows, although the country eventually agreed, and the pauses started over the weekend.
A new Reuters/Ipsos released Wednesday found some 68% of American respondents agreed with a statement that "Israel should call a ceasefire and try to negotiate." This included about three-quarters of Democrats and half of Republicans.
Gathering coincides with March for Israel
The Congresspeople convened for the event following a morning screening of a 43-minute footage compilation by the IDF from various sources such as Hamas body cameras, dashboard cameras, and social media. The footage underscored the brutality and barbarism of the Hamas terrorists.
The gathering also followed a powerful 2-hour March for Israel on the National Mall, drawing over 250,000 Jewish and pro-Israel participants.
The evening bi-partisan reception centered more on faith-based diplomacy, which Israel Allies Foundation US Director Jordanna McMillan said is "steadfast" and "never going to diminish."
"The bi-partisan nature of faith-based diplomacy can be felt in legislatures around the world as we fight the bias and distortion we see in the United Nations," said Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan, who was also at the event.
"It is either us or them," Erdan said about the Hamas-Israel war to a clapping crowd. "And it must be us."
Congressman Lamborn, a Republican, emphasized the recently approved $14 billion military aid package for Israel during his address. This substantial allocation aims to enhance Israel's missile defense systems, including the Iron Dome and David's Sling, by adding over 100 new launchers and nearly 15,000 Tamir interceptors. As relayed by an administration official to Time, the package also includes provisions to replenish America's stockpile of interceptors, artillery shells, and other essential munitions in support of Israel's defense capabilities.
Lamborn said he recently met with a representative of the Rafael defense company that makes the Iron Dome and that it is near competition for an upgraded system that would use energy or lasers to bring down missiles.
Other event speakers included Marc Belzberg, chairman of OneFamily Fund; Moshe Emilio Lavi, whose brother-in-law, Omri, a Nahal Oz resident, is held hostage in the Gaza Strip; Eitan Neishlos, a young businessman, philanthropist and Jewish leader living in Dubai after the Abraham Accords; Doron Almog, chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency - four of his family members were abducted by Hamas and two were killed on October 7; Mark Wilf, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency; and Yaron Ashkenazi, founder and managing partner of Awz Ventures, who represented the high-tech sector in the service of commemoration of the victims of the October 7 Hamas massacre and how to use technology to help mitigate crises, fight antisemitism and hate.
McMillan, who was notably moved by the speeches of the victims and survivors (see related stories on jpost.com), said that Israel is fighting a war on three fronts: military, media, and diplomatic.
"Our goal with the Congressmen is to be the diplomatic Iron Dome for the Nation of Israel," she said.
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Image credit: Perry Bindelglass