Washington, DC—Today, Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) issued the following statement after voting on supplemental national security legislation and additional legislation to improve data privacy and protect national security:

“Democracy and human rights are under siege all over the world. The Ukrainian people are desperately trying to defend their country against Vladimir Putin’s brutal authoritarian invasion and imperial land grab. The $61 billion we are sending them now is several months late as Donald Trump and Putin’s helpers in Congress have done all they can to obstruct passage of this desperately needed military assistance. 

“But yesterday we acted forcefully to help the people of Ukraine repel and end Putin’s brutal war of aggression, which has already caused the deaths of 10,582 Ukrainian civilians, including 587 children, since the war began in February 2022. There have also been mass kidnappings of tens of thousands of children and nearly 20,000 people injured by Russian violence.

“Let the people of Ukraine know that, with this valuable assistance, the American people are with them, and we thank them for their daily and arduous commitment to the survival of democratic freedom under such horrific circumstances. The fight in Ukraine is a fight for democracy and the rule of law against all the tyrannical powers of the world, including not just Russia but China and Iran.

“Putin should understand that America has Ukraine’s back and the Democrats—with all the Republican help we can muster—will never allow his MAGA sycophants to run our foreign policy. And we have also made it clear to Putin that his frozen assets now belong to the Ukrainian people because their nation is staggering under the costs of his vainglorious ambitions to rebuild the Russian empire with violent aggression and destruction.

“We have acted also to help Taiwan fortify its defenses. Let China and President Xi understand that we will never stand by and watch the tyrants of China do to Taiwan what the tyrants of Russia are trying to do to Ukraine.

“Through the 21st Century Peace Through Strength Act, we have voted to hold evildoers accountable by imposing even more stringent sanctions on the Iranian regime as well as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist groups. I am proud of the sanctions we have brought against terrorists and tyrants around the world.  

“The bill for military aid of $14 billion to Israel passed, and it will be part of the final package the Senate takes up. During my tenure in Congress, I have been proud to vote for tens of billions of dollars for military and strategic assistance to Israel, most recently last month when I voted for $3.3 billion for Foreign Military Financing grants and $500 million for missile defense programs, and I fully plan to vote for such aid many times again in the future. I am a strong champion of the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, other state-of-the-art defensive systems and equipment, and of Israel’s qualitative military edge over Iran and other hostile regional powers and actors who are a threat to Israeli sovereignty and seek to undermine liberal democracy in the region. I have no doubt we will be able to help our long-term democratic allies, the Israeli people, maintain their commanding military advantage and ensure their national security, and I am committed to that essential American priority. Our partnership as democratic allies is fundamental and bedrock, and I am committed to keeping it strong and growing with broad bipartisan support. 

“But, at this time, with all the new aid assured and soon to be in the pipeline for the next several years, I remain haunted and heartsick by the way Prime Minister Netanyahu has prosecuted the war in Gaza. It has already cost the lives of more than 34,000 people in Gaza, more than two-thirds of them women and children, in the six months since Hamas’s appalling terrorist attacks on Israel on October 7, 2023, which resulted in the murder of nearly 1,200 people and the illegal abduction and kidnapping of hundreds more. Gaza has been crushed and overrun by the internal displacement of the vast majority of its population, the demolition of most homes and physical structures, the spread of hunger, homelessness and disease, and the shock of more than 1,000 cases of pediatric amputation of arms and legs.

“Yesterday, I sent a message to Netanyahu as a strong progressive supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship that the war in Gaza, so long as it continues, must be narrowly targeted and conducted according to the laws of war and that our weapons must be used in accordance with American and international law. When the war began, I emphasized that Israel’s war is a just war of self-defense against a lawless enemy and that it warrants the support of democratic nations and everyone who rejects terrorism. But a war with just causes must also be conducted justly in its execution, which means in strict observance of all the legal protections for civilian life.

“Yes, war is hell, as we are often told. But that is why we have laws of war—precisely to confine the hellishness of war to actual military combatants. And, yes, Hamas terrorists neglect and endanger Palestinian civilians living in the theater of combat—that is what terrorists do. But that is why the democratic law-abiding world must make extra efforts to protect innocent civilians who are imperiled by terrorists, and never use their peril as a justification for neglecting or violating their safety ourselves.

“The laws of war are there to protect real human beings, and we must be working however we can to build a future of peace, safety and security for Israeli and Palestinian families alike. 

“I have Palestinian-American constituents who have lost multiple family members in Gaza. One constituent of mine from the Gaithersburg area lost 42 relatives, all civilians, on a single day when they were killed in successive bombing explosions at their family compound in Gaza City where the family had gathered seeking refuge from airstrikes. Another revered and beloved constituent, Chef José Andrés, lost seven of his colleagues from World Central Kitchen in a deadly and unprovoked attack on their food convoy traveling in Gaza to feed hungry people.  

“Meantime, the remaining 130 Israeli and American hostages are languishing in dangerous captivity, and there are reports that some may have been killed; I have met often with anguished Israeli hostage families and friends and participated in their rallies to keep them in the forefront of the minds of the world. They are desperate for a deal or a ceasefire to get the hostages home. I have written letters, attended rallies, and gone to the Embassy of Qatar to plead for help. I am in solidarity with the thousands of Israelis who have taken to the streets, including this weekend, to demand that Prime Minister Netanyahu finally give priority to getting their family members home. 

“The critical question in my mind is: How can the United States change Prime Minister Netanyahu’s direction to elevate the life and safety of civilians to a priority of paramount importance in the future conduct of this war?

“The Republican Majority refused to include a provision or allow a vote on the amendment I cosponsored with Congressman Dan Kildee approving appropriations for billions of dollars for Iron Dome and other defensive military systems but withholding offensive military transfers until the State Department ensures that the weapons we send are not being used in violation of American and international law. That was the bill—as amended—I wanted to vote for. I also strongly supported the humanitarian assistance passed for crises around the world, including in Gaza, Sudan and Haiti.

“For all my time in Congress I have been a strong and passionate supporter of Israeli democracy and security. The question today is not about the American relationship with Israel, which is enduring and ironclad. It is about Netanyahu’s policies. I ask Prime Minister Netanyahu to assure America both with his statements and his actions that, so long as he is in office, he will be working to get food and medical supplies into Gaza at the rate and in the quantity needed to meet the overwhelming needs of the people there and to undertake strict measures to safeguard Palestinian civilian life in all future military operations in this war. As Netanyahu and his war cabinet contemplate an invasion of Rafah, where more than one million civilians have taken refuge from the violence, I feel a sense of urgency to raise this matter now, just as President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Blinken have done, to avoid another humanitarian disaster. The uprooted transient population sheltering in Rafah is in a dangerous situation and the food delivery infrastructure in Gaza has been further impaired by the American withdrawal of funding from UNRWA.

“I remain unalterably committed to the strategic security and safety of the people of Israel as I remain committed to the safety and human rights of the Palestinians, the Ukrainians and people all over the world. Long-term security will consist in a political solution as outlined by President Biden and the development of visionary new leadership that can perceive and create opportunities for democracy, peace and regional progress. 

“Democrats stand united in opposition to terrorism and in defense of democracy and its central purpose: the protection of human rights and freedom. And we stand in strong support of President Biden’s sustained efforts to negotiate a release of the hostages and to bring an end to this deadly cycle of terror, violence and war. I am glad that our efforts to break the Republican stranglehold on foreign aid have finally succeeded. At a time of rising authoritarianism, fascism, antisemitism and fanaticism, we must act everywhere and urgently to protect human rights and human life, and democracy for all. 

“I grew up being taught that whoever saves a single life is considered to have saved the entire world, an article of Jewish faith, and Sarah and I have taught our children the same thing. In that spirit, my vote is intended to help in some small way to save lives at a time of horrific violence and suffering. 

“All told, yesterday’s actions in the House of Representatives are a major step forward for the cause of democracy and human rights around the world.”