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Rep. Gary Ackerman represents New York's 5th District: "If you do not want to be hit back, don't hit!"
News and Opinion

Congressional Democrats assert support for Israel

-- Bruce Ticker

Jewish Democrats in Congress asserted their party's support for Israel while insisting that Hamas forced Israel to retaliate during a reception in Washington, D.C. honoring Jewish members of the new 111th Congre ss. They celebrated despite the absence of comic relief, a.k.a. Al Franken, who was certified the winner of the US Senate race in Minnesota, but faces legal challenges from Republican Senator Norm Coleman.

"If you do not want to be hit back, don't hit," said Rep. Gary Ackerman, who represents a wide swath of Queens, New York, where many Jews live. He added that Hamas must learn that "Jewish blood is not free."

Ackerman had just returned from a brief trip to Israel where he accompanied New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to notify Israelis, in person, that Americans are behind them in attacking Hamas for its ongoing missile attacks and weapons build-up.

Ackerman was among two dozen Jewish Democrats who are veterans of Congress or were newly elected on Nov. 4 to be honored at the reception sponsored by the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) on Tuesday, Jan. 6.

Rep. Alan Grayson, who ousted a Republican incumbent in the Orlando area, insisted that thwarting Hamas and Iran's nuclear ambitions are among his priorities, saying, "While I am in Congress there are two principles which will guide me. First, Iran and the Ayatollahs must never have a nuclear weapon. Whatever it takes.. Second, Israel must be allowed to defend itself from missile attacks just like any other country. Whatever it takes."

"Standing up to Hamas and not letting them return to their attacks on Israel is an imperative," added Rep. Howard Berman, who represents part of Greater Los Angeles.

Reps. Barney Frank and Brad Sherman both stressed the Democratic Party’s strong position in support of Israel. "We cannot let the right take the issue of Israel hostage as if they are the only ones who support the existence of Israel," said Frank, whose district covers such heavily Jewish communities as Brookline and Newton in Massachusetts.

Sherman, from the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles area, noted, "The Republicans are not stronger in their support of Israel. They are just louder."

Other speakers included Senator Ben Cardin, and Representatives. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who represents parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties in Florida; Shelley Berkley of Las Vegas; Allyson Schwartz of Philadelphia, Jerry Nadler of Brooklyn, NY Susan Davis of San Diego and newly elected Jared Polis of Boulder, Colorado. Newly elected Representative. Chellie Pingree of Maine, who is listed as a Lutheran, was also honored by NJDC for her strong commitment to Israel.

"These are the times we must stand together," said Rep. Paul Hodes of New Hampshire. "We must be unwavering in our support of Israel."

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