Israel-Palestine: NJ Green Party Candidates Blast Menendez's Comments
Sen. Bob Menendez says the U.S. should help Israel "wipe Hamas off the face of the Earth." Christina Khalil and Madelyn Hoffman disagree.
NEW JERSEY — Should the United States help Israel to "effectively wipe Hamas off the face of the Earth?" This statement from Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey – given less than three weeks after Hamas' Oct. 7 attack – is now seeing some fierce criticism from two of his former and current Senate challengers: Christina Khalil and Madelyn Hoffman of the Green Party of New Jersey.
Casualties and suffering have been heavy for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Patch New Jersey
By Eric Kiefer
November 7, 2023
More than 1,400 Israelis were killed after Hamas launched their coordinated attack on Oct. 7, including civilians and children. Dozens of the deceased are U.S. residents, including some from New Jersey. It’s estimated that nearly 250 Israeli soldiers and civilians were also seized by Hamas and taken into Gaza as hostages. Read More: Hamas Attacks Deadliest Day For Jews Since The Holocaust, Biden Says
Meanwhile, Palestinian authorities said last week that more than 7,000 people have been killed in Gaza due to Israel's retaliatory air strikes – including nearly 3,000 children. Israel has cut off water and electricity in Gaza, raising an outcry from advocates, some of whom have called Israel’s order for Palestinians to evacuate to the southern part of the Gaza Stripan “impossible” task. Read More: Pro-Palestine Protesters March In North Jersey: 'Lift The Siege On Gaza'
Menendez, the former chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been unwavering in his support of Israel.
“There is no moral equivalency,” he said in a speech on the Senate floor in October. “We cannot ‘both sides’ the Israeli-Hamas conflict.”
“We must recognize that not all Palestinians are part of Hamas and that many residents in Gaza are trapped in a cycle of violence, but I’ll say it again — Hamas is not a legitimate political entity,” Menendez said.
“[Hamas] does not have a mandate to govern the people of Gaza,” Menendez said. “It is a terrorist organization guided by religious fanaticism. Full stop.”
“If there is suffering to be found in Gaza, it is a direct result of Hamas’ actions,” the senator urged.
After the Senate passed a bipartisan resolution in support of Israel last month, Menendez released the following statement(article continues below):
“The United States of America unequivocally stands with our ally, the State of Israel, as it fights to defend itself from the existential threat posed by Hamas, an Iran-backed terrorist organization hellbent on destroying Israel. Congress must act swiftly to provide Israel with all the necessary resources to ensure it can properly protect its people, deter Iran’s nefarious efforts in the region, and effectively wipe Hamas off the face of the Earth.”
Menendez’s comments struck a nerve with Khalil and Hoffman, who issued a joint statement on Friday accusing the senator of “inflaming tensions in the region” and supporting a “genocide.”
Khalil – the Green Party of New Jersey’s choice to run for U.S. Senate against Menendez in 2024 – is one of several progressive challengers trying to seize the embattled Democratic Party leader’s seat in Congress. See Related: Senate Candidate From NJ Calls For Ceasefire In Israel-Gaza War
Khalil made her stance on the war clear in an Oct. 21 statement. Although the Oct. 7 attack from Hamas was “horrific and reprehensible,” violence against innocent civilians is unacceptable, she said.
According to Khalil:
“The attack against Israel did not happen in a vacuum. Gaza has faced decades of occupation, during which the human rights of its residents have been severely infringed upon, and have endured constant bombing and violent conflict. It is, however, not just to hold the entirety of the Palestinian population in Gaza responsible for the actions of Hamas against the Israeli victims of the attack. Israel’s response, the bombing of hospitals, religious sites, and residential areas, is a horrific string of war crimes that violate the Geneva convention, and the morality which the Israeli government claims to uphold. I firmly condemn the senseless violence committed against innocent Palestinian civilians, a majority of which are children and young people. I call for an immediate ceasefire, for the restoration of Palestine’s water and electricity, and for the opening of the border so that civilians may evacuate and humanitarian efforts may enter.”
“I support the creation of a single, secular state in which Palestinans are afforded reparations, and they are allowed to move freely through the land now known as Israel,” Khalil added. “My support of a free Palestine and the condemnation of the Israeli government does not in any way mean that I do not support the Jewish people or empathize with the Israeli population affected by the terrible October 7 attack.”
“I stand with the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities affected,” she concluded.
Hoffman – a former New Jersey resident who ran against Menendez with the Green Party in 2018 – said the senator’s statement that Israel should “wipe Hamas off the face of the Earth” is dehumanizing and inflammatory.
“More even than the current scandals the senator is fighting off, this statement should alarm potential voters because this statement and many others like it coming out of the mouths of U.S. elected officials, implicates them in the genocide taking place in Gaza and the West Bank of Israel,” Hoffman said.
“We understand the outrage that many of the world felt and still feels after the events of October 7. What I don’t understand is how the outrage against that event can make people completely insensitive to the death of children in Gaza, not to mention how many children are left as orphans because of the deaths of so many men and women civilians, fathers and mothers to many children. The hypocrisy, the double standards, the selection of sides, the willingness to ‘wipe an entire population off the face of the Earth,’ baffles me.”
“Senator Menendez should be joining the United Nations’ call for an immediate ceasefire, followed by negotiations to build a just and lasting peace in the region,” Hoffman urged. “Anything else is foolhardy. It could both inflame tensions in the region and implicate the U.S. and the voices most loudly supporting Israel’s actions in a terrible and unforgivable genocide.”
Canberra Demonstration in Solidarity with Gaza and Palestine
October 20, 2023