By: Dave McCormick
Wall Street Journal
Sunday, January 7, 2024
You could hear the demented joy through the phone. A young man standing in the Mefalsim kibbutz called his parents back in Gaza to brag about murdering 10 Jews on Oct. 7. They were elated.
That was but one episode in a gut-wrenching 47-minute compilation of recordings and videos from that horrific day that I watched in a Tel Aviv hospital during a recent trip with my wife, Dina, to Israel. A father executed in cold blood in front of his children. Entire families burned alive in their homes. Women staggering and bleeding through their clothes after being raped. Beheadings. Baby after baby, slaughtered. It isn’t possible to watch this footage without concluding Hamas must be wiped off the face of the planet.
The footage should be a wake-up call for those in power and mandatory viewing for every member of Congress, Biden administration official, and delegate to the United Nations. It’s a window into the evil underlying Hamas, and jihadism more broadly, that will shake any leader with a conscience.
Some of America’s leaders need to be shaken. Thus far, Israel has counted on bipartisan U.S. support, but the chorus of Democratic dissenters is growing louder, influenced by pro-Hamas activists in our streets. Sen. Bernie Sanders has called to cut off all military aid to Israel, while other Democrats are insisting on a cease-fire that would leave Hamas in charge in Gaza.
It’s time for politicians in both parties to take an unequivocal stand for Israel. More than 1,200 people, including 35 Americans, were slaughtered on Oct. 7 and the brutality against innocents continues. As many as 129, including six Americans, remain hostages in the dungeons of Gaza, where they are at the mercy of jihadists who showed no scruples about raping and torturing. And despite Israel’s efforts to minimize harm to civilians, thousands of women and children in Gaza have tragically died as Hamas has denied them humanitarian support, blocked their escape, and used them as human shields.
In Israel, my wife and I found a determined and courageous people willing to fight to stop this evil. Israel’s entire society rallied to care for Oct. 7 survivors and their families while burying those lost with dignity and care. They’ve sent 360,000 of their sons and daughters to serve in this war.
As a U.S. Army officer who served in combat during the 1991 Gulf War, I have always admired the resilience of the Israeli people. They maintain a free society with all the rights we take for granted in America just a short jeep ride away from thugs who would slit their throats. They raise the flag of freedom where it is hard to do so—and ask only that we not sell them out in return.
Doing so would also be to sell out the American people. Oct. 7 was a reminder of the threat posed to the civilized world by radical jihadists and Iranian proxies. If Israel falters, we are next. Just last month a Hamas spokesman said, “We need violent acts against American and British interests everywhere.” And we have seen antisemitic violence in America in places like Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, blocks from my home.
Yet U.S. policy enables the true perpetrator of the atrocities in Gaza: Iran. The mullahs preach an ideology that hates tolerance and equality. In the past year, Tehran pumped an estimated $350 million into Gaza and continues to prop up Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Iranians are behind the Houthis in Yemen that attack global shipping and U.S. Navy vessels in the Red Sea. Iran-backed militias have attacked U.S. bases in Syria and Iraq since the October assault on Israel.
Iran gets away with it because American politicians cave. The senator I am challenging in this year’s election, Bob Casey, cast a decisive vote on the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. In November President Biden reissued a sanctions waiver that freed up more than $10 billion for Tehran even as its proxies were holding American citizens hostage in Gaza. Messrs. Biden and Casey’s Iran policy is appeasement, and that’s why the Iranians feel confident enough to go on offense against Israel and against American sailors.
We need a comprehensive strategy to strangle the regime economically, weaken its proxies, and confront at home and abroad an ideology based on hate.
My wife and I had a chance to visit privately with both Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana. They come from opposing political parties, but their message to us was the same: They are eternally grateful to the American people, and they believe America’s moral clarity is vital in today’s dangerous world. If I am honored to represent the people of Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate this time next year, I will stand with Israel and for a strong America.