With an editorial published Thursday on a Vermont news site, Congresswoman Becca Balint became the first Jewish representative on Capitol Hill to call for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas War.
“I do not claim to know how to solve every aspect of this decades-long conflict. But what I do know is that killing civilians, and killing children, is an abomination and categorically unacceptable — no matter who the civilians are, and no matter who the children are,” Balint, a freshman member of Congress from Vermont’s single at-large district.
In an op-ed published Thursday in VTDigger, a statewide nonprofit news site, Balint writes that she is only one generation removed from the horrors of the Holocaust — the realities of antisemitism and genocide are, thus, not far from her mind.
She writes that she is grieving for Israelis killed taken hostage in the Oct. 7 attack, that she is grieving for the Palestinians “killed and suffering in the chaos of violence,” and for the children who have been killed, harmed and orphaned amid the war.
A true cease-fire, she said, must be precipitated by an “immediate break in the violence” to allow for negotiations, humanitarian aid, and hostage returns. But those negotiations must arrive at a place where Palestinians have self-governance without the influence of Hamas — the militant party ruling Gaza — and its aligned extremists.
“For the good of Palestinians and Israelis, a lasting bilateral cease-fire can only work if Hamas does not continue to rule in Gaza. Hamas is a terrorist organization, and its stated goal is to annihilate the state of Israel,” Balint wrote. “It can’t remain in power in Gaza. It has violated international law by taking hostages and massacring civilians.”
Balint’s editorial follows a call on Wendesday for a cease-fire by 24 Democratic members of Congress, led by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Bett McCollum of Minnesota.
In a letter addressed to President Joe Biden, and endorsed by nearly three dozen advocacy groups, the members of Congress sought clarity on the White House’s objectives for the region.
“We write to you to express deep concern about the intensifying war in Gaza, particularly grave violations against children, and our fear that without an immediate cessation of hostilities and the establishment of a robust bilateral ceasefire, this war will lead to a further loss of civilian life and risk dragging the United States into dangerous and unwise conflict with armed groups across the Middle East,” the letter says.
The ongoing war in Palestine’s Gaza Strip has become a source of ongoing discontent among Democrats in recent weeks. On Tuesday, more than 500 federal appointees and staffers sent a letter to President Biden protesting his support of Israel’s role in the war, and just as many former Biden campaign staffers signed a letter calling for a cease-fire last week.
Last week, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., became the first member of Congress’s upper chamber to call for a cease-fire.