Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Floor Statement on Violence in Israel

22 October 2015 | As Prepared for Delivery

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express strong support for the people and nation of Israel and to wholly condemn the horrific acts of violence targeting innocent civilians.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims.

All people have the right to live in peace and security, and every nation has the right to take actions to protect its citizens.

As chaos envelopes Israel from all borders, we must stand stalwartly with our strongest ally in the region.

Over the past month, unprovoked Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians, including children, police officers and members of the IDF have increased to shocking levels.

Perhaps even more disturbing are the Palestinian Leadership’s recent incitements to violence. In a September 30th address, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the United Nations, saying that Palestinians would no longer be bound by their commitments to the Oslo Accords.

One day later, Palestinians ambushed two Jewish Israelis, Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin, murdering them in front of their children.

Since then, barbaric terrorist attacks against civilians, including stabbings, rock throwing and deliberate car crashes have become too commonplace.

We have seen:

· A 15 year-old teenager stabbed in Jerusalem.

· Two rabbis stabbed and killed inside the Old City.

· Five people attacked with a screwdriver in Tel-Aviv.

· And a driver intentionally hitting civilians at a bus stop, then getting out of the car with a sharp object and causing more bloodshed and destruction in broad daylight.

These are only some of the innocent victims of this deplorable violence.

Rather than showing leadership and calling for calm and civility, President Abbas and other Palestinian leaders have chosen to further incite violence.

President Abbas has perpetuated false accusations about the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians and undermined the Israeli government’s assurance that it seeks to maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount.

Mr. Speaker, I continue to support the United States’ longstanding policy of supporting our partners for peace in the region to reach a two-state solution.

However, the Palestinian Authority’s words and lack of action to quell the violence calls those partnerships into question.

I call on the international community to speak out against these brutal terrorist acts. In addition, we must put pressure on those who are taking inflammatory actions that deliberately fuel tensions.

Just yesterday, six countries submitted a resolution to UNESCO with the sole intention of delegitimizing Jewish history in our own Holy Land.

This is disgraceful and I applaud the efforts of this Administration to oppose this harmful and incendiary resolution.

We must unequivocally condemn terrorist actions wherever and whenever they take place. These violent attacks against Jews in Israel are part of growing anti-Semitism around the globe.

Tragically, over the past few years in particular, we have seen a rise in anti-Semitism, from the streets of Paris to the streets of Miami Beach.

And around the world, we have seen the spread of a violent and depraved ideology aimed at crushing the values that we hold dear:

· The freedom to practice and celebrate our own diverse religions and cultures;

· The right to express ourselves in print and in speech;

· The right to live in our homelands and walk in our streets with dignity, respect and safety.

We must stand up and speak out whenever these rights are threatened.

As a member of the Appropriations subcommittee for State and Foreign Operations, I am proud to advocate for strong funding and cooperation with Israel on matters of mutual interest.

As our strategic and democratic ally, we must bolster efforts to ensure that Israel has the resources she needs to be secure and confront the violent threats against her.

The rise in violence in Israel, and of anti-Semitism more broadly, is deeply troubling to me as a lawmaker who values and respects the strong U.S.-Israel relationship, but it also impacts me more personally, as a Jew who feels a significant and historical connection to the land of Israel.

No nation on Earth can be expected to sit back and take these kinds of attacks on her citizens without responding.

President Abbas and Palestinian leaders must take clear and meaningful steps to stop this violence and encourage unity and a return to the path toward a peaceful, two-state solution. There is absolutely no justification for violence against innocent civilians under any circumstances and I call for those responsible for these vicious terrorist attacks to be brought to swift justice.

I proudly and firmly stand behind Israel’s right to defend herself against malicious brutal terrorist attacks from outside her borders and within and call on others here and around the world to do the same.”