Riverdale Rep. Ritchie Torres, a crowd favorite on the pro-Israel circuit, was introduced to the nearly 300,000 people who gathered on the Washington Mall on Nov. 14 to support Israel, oppose fast-rising antisemitism, and demand that the hostages seized by Hamas be freed, by SAR senior Yishama Orlow. Here’s what Torres, who is Progressive, Latino and gay, had to say.
Today I’m not here only as a Bronxite. I’m not here only as a New Yorker, I am here as an American to defend one of our greatest American values, the US-Israel relationship.
The US-Israel relationship is not just a Democrat or Republican value, it’s not just a Professive or conservative value, it is an American value encoded in our national DNA.
Oct. 7th was a crime against the Jewish state, indeed against humanity, so barbaric that it cannot be ignored, it cannot go unpunished. Hamas must be brought to justice. Israel has a right to defend itself and America has a duty to stand with Israel in her struggle for survival and self-defense.
Israel must do to Hamas what the United States did to ISIS and al-Qaeda in the 21st century. We must do to Hamas what we did to the Nazis in the 20th century. We must rid the world of the terrorism and barbarism that was perpetrated against Humanity and the Jewish people.
Now, we know that the narrative has shifted against Israel. Israel is the only country on Earth whose existence, whose legitimacy, whose right of self-defense is the target for both delegitimation and destruction.
No one expected the United States to enter into a ceasefire with the Empire of Japan when 2,400 Americans were murdered in Pearl Harbor. No one expected the United States to enter into a ceasefire with al Qaeda and the Taliban when 3,000 Americans were murdered on 9/11. And so those who insist that Israel should no longer defend itself are holding the Jewish state to a dangerous double-standard that no other country including the United States would ever impose on itself.
I want to be crystal clear: A ceasefire with a terrorist organization is not a peace agreement, it is a death sentence for Israelis.
Now not everyone who’s calling for a ceasefire wants Israel to cease to exist, but everyone who wants Israel to cease to exist is calling for a ceasefire. Hamas and Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran are all calling for a ceasefire. Our answer to them is “No.”
You know, 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of Israel and the 60th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream Speech.” And those two anniversaries renind me that the Jewish people have long had a dream of Jewish liberation.
Theodore Herzel had a dream of emancipation from antisemitism. The Jews who were driven into exile for thousands of years had a dream of one day returning to their homeland. And so we are here to tell the world that Israel is the realization of a dream. Israel is the manifestation of the words, “never again.” Israel is the realization of a dream that will live on for the next 75 years and beyond. Am Yisrael chai!