Illinois Democrats suggesting different strategies for Middle East conflict

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(The Center Square) – While Gov. J.B. Pritzker voices his support for the Israeli Defense Force, other legislators call for peace in the Middle East.

Over the weekend, violence erupted in the Middle East as Hamas militant forces carried out several attacks on Israel, leading to over 1,600 people being killed. Israel retaliated with assaults on Gaza that continue into Wednesday.

Pritzker on Tuesday was part of a ceremony in support for those in Israel. While joined by the Chicago Jewish United Fund, Pritzker pledged his support for the Israeli defense.

“The people of Israel should all know that America and Illinois unequivocally stands with them in their battle to end the ongoing Hamas attacks,” Pritzker said. “We pray today for the strength and safety of the men and women of the Israeli Defense Forces as they embark on this most difficult and important mission.”

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza also spoke at the event and said the state has to support Israel’s retaliation against Hamas.

“We must acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and its right to utilize the full extent of its powers to defend itself against those who wish to destroy it,” Mendoza said.

After Israel retaliated against Hamas for their attack, a letter signed by 16 Illinois Democratic state legislators called for an end to the violence in the Middle East. State Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, and others urged peace.

“This latest violence shows the urgent need for a lasting peace. There are people across Illinois, many of whom are our constituents, who are watching this situation unfold and experiencing deep pain as they worry for loved ones,” Peters said. “We will not be able to achieve peace when millions of Palestinians are denied basic human rights.”

Illinois GOP Chairman Don Tracy condemned the letter.

“The inability of these elected officials to call out evil as evil, and their disgusting attempt to justify evil, should disqualify these individuals from holding public office in Illinois,” Tracy said in a statement Wednesday. “We call on Governor Pritzker and all Democrats of good faith to disavow this statement and to call on the individuals that made it to either withdraw and apologize or retire from public life.”

State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, signed onto Sunday’s letter after Israeli forces hit the Gaza strip in retaliation, calling for de-escalation. After hearing from others that calling for peace between Israel and Gaza suggests a “moral equivalency” between the two, Ford said he condemned the “cowardly Hamas terrorists” and expressed sorrow for the hundreds of innocent people who lost their lives.

“This monstrous crime has no justification. Period,” Ford said.

Hundreds have been killed in the violence with the death toll expected to increase.

“Their [Hamas] mask has been removed,” Pritzker said. “Killing innocent children and the elderly, there is a special hell for that.”

President Joe Biden spoke on Tuesday in response to the attacks and offered the United States’ support.

“So, in this moment, we must be crystal clear: We stand with Israel. We stand with Israel. And we will make sure Israel has what it needs to take care of its citizens, defend itself and respond to this attack,” Biden said. “My administration has consulted closely with Congress throughout this crisis, and when Congress returns, we’re going to ask them to take urgent action to fund the national security requirements of our critical partners.”

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