A noontime crowd of more than 2,500 people in downtown Chicago heard Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) and Rep. Elect Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield) express support for Israel’s right to defend itself along with other elected officials and community leaders.
For the last six days, Israel has been attacking Hamas strongholds in the Gaza Strip to put an end to Palestinian rocket fire into Israel as international efforts at a cease fire produced no results as of late Tuesday.
“Were this happening here in Illinois or anywhere in the United States, we would not tolerate it, not for even a minute,” Schneider told the crowd. “Nor should we expect any different from Israel, or any government committed to the defense of its people.”
Schneider spoke in strong terms after the rally describing the importance of not only Israel but all nations to defend themselves. “We take our territorial integrity very seriously,” he said. “No nation would do any less,” he added referring to the strength of the Israeli action.
Schakowsky let the crowd know both the United States House of Representatives and the Senate had unanimously passed resolutions supporting Israel’s right to defend itself and for an end to rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. She put some of her remarks into human terms.
“We stand with men, women, and children in southern Israel who have as little as 15 seconds warning to find shelter from the rockets that rain down on them, especially the children who are growing up with the constant trauma of rocket fire,” Schakowsky said.
Schakowsky also stressed the help the United States has extended to Israel enabling it to keep many Hamas rockets from landing on its soil.
“We stand with Israel in the form of the Iron Dome, funded by our tax dollars, a missile defense system that has proven successful in intercepting hundreds of rockets,” Schakowsky said. “We stand with Israel for her efforts to minimize the loss of civilian lives, and mourn with her the loss of innocent life on both sides of the border.”
Schneider, who took his degree from Northwestern University in 1983 to work on an Israeli collective for a year, expressed his feelings in a very personal way.
“Like many of you, I have personally visited many of the Israeli communities now under fire,” Schneider said in one of his first public appearances since the Nov. 6 election. “Like many of you, I have friends and loved ones living in Israel, serving in the IDF, wondering what comes next.”
For Schneider, who has been active in the Jewish community most of his life, standing on the podium with colleagues and future colleagues like Schakowsky, Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago), Rep. Elect Bill Foster (D-Naperville) and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) had special meaning.
“It was a strong sensation of being there in a position of responsibility,” Schneider told Patch later Tuesday. “I was very proud to be on the stage with my future colleagues.”
Just as she expressed rock solid support for Israel, Schakowsky ended her remarks by articulating a hope of peace for all people of the region.
“And we hope one day soon, to stand with Israel at the peace table where Israel can finally secure that elusive enduring peace for the children of Israel and children of Palestine,” Schakowsky said.