By State Rep. Mark Gillen (R-Berks)
In the wake of Hamas’ well-coordinated and unprecedented terrorist attacks on Israel that have already left over 1,000 dead and over 1,500 wounded – mostly noncombatants – I stand with Israel, and I unequivocally condemn Hamas’ heinous actions.
As a chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, I find this situation absolutely appalling, as this was not an ordinary military scenario with trained soldiers engaged in mutual combat. Rather, Hamas intentionally targeted innocent people, including women, children, infants and the elderly, many of whom had no way of protecting themselves. This evil and cowardly assault again solidifies the illegitimacy of Hamas. According to President Joe Biden, Americans are among the murdered victims and Americans are also being held as prisoners by Hamas in Gaza.
Tragically, nearly eight decades after the last concentration camps were liberated, terrorists abducted an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor who, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, was taken away in her wheelchair. After surviving one of the greatest atrocities known to mankind, this elderly disabled Jewish woman was once again subjected to a diabolically violent and hate-filled attack. While this world should have no room for barbarians seeking out civilians and massacring, raping and taking hostages, Palestinians are not taught the same lessons in their schools.
To prove that point, a recent collaborative comprehensive review of hundreds of Palestinian school textbooks and teachers’ guides by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center and the Center for Near East Policy Research confirm that Palestinian children are systematically taught to delegitimize Israel’s existence and use violence, if necessary, to achieve their ultimate goal of establishing a Palestinian state that would annihilate Israel. Palestinian schools are even named after terrorists – including Nazi collaborators and the planner of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes – and elevates them to hero status.
In light of these despicable acts, and the proven, ongoing anti-Israel propaganda, I stand in solidarity with the people of Israel and the victims of this senseless and unprovoked violence, and I believe that, as before, Israel and the Jewish people will continue to persevere. The horrific events over the last few days should once again remind everyone of Hamas’ trans-generational genocidal mindset. As a Pennsylvania legislator, I am determined to confront evil both at home and abroad. The mass murder of innocent unarmed citizens has historic parallels dating back to the 1930s and 1940s. Those who have committed such deeds in 2023 must face swift justice.
As the founder of the Berks Military History Museum and the planned Holocaust Museum, I am incensed by these abhorrent events, which help amplify the importance of having a firm understanding of the horrors of these brutalities and the realization that Hamas has no interest in committing to a peaceful coexistence with Israel. Looking forward, if Palestinian classrooms teach that a particular race or religion is to be treated with abject contempt, suspicion and condemnation, it is not a quantum leap to understand why its students would find it reasonable, even heroic, to harm these groups in vicious, barbaric ways. Meanwhile, the public statements by the Palestinian authorities that profess their commitment to a “just peace” and a “two-state solution,” are denuded by the reality of their murderous rampage.
Representative Mark Gillen
128th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jacob Misal