Last Saturday — on the Jewish holidays of Shabbat and Simchat Torah, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War — Hamas terrorists invaded Israel in an act of war, killing over 1,000 civilians and abducting at least 150 hostages to Gaza. These are innocent civilians who’ve done nothing wrong, and their lives were cut short. The tragedy — and the vile atrocities by Hamas that led to it — is so immense it’s almost incomprehensible.
This unprecedented attack marks the deadliest day of violence against Jews since the Holocaust.
Communities near the Gaza border were infiltrated by terrorists, who killed families, the elderly, babies, and more. They even kidnapped an 85 year-old Holocaust survivor. Hamas terrorists also infiltrated a music festival, butchering, kidnapping, and raping hundreds of the attendees, most of whom were young people.
We’re now learning that Hamas even decapitated people.
It was a modern pogrom — reminding many of us about what used to happen to Jewish villages in Eastern Europe, which would be wiped out by anti-Jewish violence. My ancestors fled to the United States to escape that violence.
Many Israelis are still missing and unaccounted for. Like many in our community, I know various people whose friends or family members are dead or missing.
My heart is broken, and I am angry. I am also angry that some in our country — and in San Francisco — have celebrated Hamas’s atrocities as an act of “resistance.” As someone who has criticized the government of Israel for its settlement policy, which undermines a two-state solution, I don’t begrudge anyone the right to rally or protest for the creation of a viable, secure, and prosperous Palestinian State. But what Hamas did has nothing to do with that goal, and Hamas’s actions are deeply harmful to the aspirations of Palestinians to live in dignity and with autonomy.
I am also concerned about the continuing rise of antisemitism here and around the world. The events of the last few days are empowering anti-Semites and risk triggering even more anti-Jewish violence than we’re already experiencing as a community.
In the coming days, we will see massive military operations in Gaza. Israel has every right to secure its borders, and I fully support Israel protecting itself against threats from Hamas. Hamas must be entirely eliminated as a political and military force.
I urge Israel, in these operations, to protect as many innocent Gazan civilians as possible and minimize casualties. Israel has every right to fight back, but no innocent person deserves to die because of the actions of their vile, despicable government.
We all must remember the human cost of war and pray for peace.
I want to leave you with the refrain from a peace song sung in many Jewish communities. Its lyrics have given me strength in this horrific time, and I hope it will bring comfort to you:
Od yavo shalom aleinu, ve’al kulam
עוד יבוא שלום עלינו, ועל כולם
Peace will come upon us yet. And upon everyone.
— Senator Scott Wiener