As Delaware Republicans release statements of adamant support for Israel after the deadly Hamas attack there, one Democrat is drawing a lot of attention for her refusal to do so.
State Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton, D-Newark, said in an email circulated among members of the Delaware General Assembly that she was shocked by what she saw when she visited the Delaware Chapter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. It helps pay for medical treatment for Palestinian children in Gaza, the site of the attacks.
“I grieve the loss of life in the region, on both sides,” Wilson-Anton said in the email. “But I refuse to ‘stand with Israel,’ as if the conditions of poverty, injury and loss of life are somehow disconnected from the state of Israel and its policies. Innocent lives have been lost because of the choices of leaders like Netanyahu who, instead of ushering in peace through treating others with dignity, choose to crush the very spirit of the Palestinian people instead.”
Her comments echo some of those of national politicians who also criticized Israel’s policies, saying they were the root cause of the attacks, which by Wednesday afternoon had claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people on each side and injured thousands more on each side.
The Oct. 7 Hamas strike shocked the world as armed militants poured over the heavily-fortified border into Israel, killing people at a concert, raiding homes, overrunning farms and communities and taking hostages back to Gaza.
Israel responded by bombing Gaza and gathering troops on the border in preparation to invade.
The Delaware State Republican Party highlighted Wilson-Anton’s comments on its Facebook page.
“We’ve witnessed a terrible atrocity: Iran-backed Hamas terrorists invaded Israel, causing violence and loss of innocent lives,” the Delaware State Republican party said on its Facebook page. “Delaware GOP offers condolences to victims’ families. However, Speaker (Valerie) Longhurst’s ‘Stand with Israel’ call was met by State Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton’s Antisemitic statement.”
The post addressed the opposition directly: “Delaware Democrats, do you agree with Rep. Wilson-Anton? Are you okay with this statement? Do you stand with Hamas as well? Do you stand with a sworn enemy? Is this the precedent you want to set? Do you want to support this public antisemitism?”
There was little response to the post.
The Democratic Party declined to comment on the email. The party has not posted a comment on the Israeli attacks on Facebook.
But a former Democratic primary opponent of Wilson-Anton’s had something to say.
“As a Democratic candidate for public office, I denounce terrorism of any kind,” said Kelly Williams Maresca. “Whenever an event makes national news, there’s a danger that comments can be influenced by implicit bias. I believe our state representatives should maintain a laser-sharp focus on the challenges we face here in Delaware, so we can unify the people and make our communities stronger, together.”
Gov. John Carney on Wednesday ordered Delaware flags to be lowered to half-staff at all state facilities until sunset on Friday, Oct. 13, to honor those who have lost their lives in Israel.
“Delawareans stand with our friends in Israel and we strongly condemn these violent terrorist attacks that are targeting innocent people,” Carney said in a press release. “We stand in solidarity with our Jewish neighbors. Terrorism is never justified.”
A “We Stand with Israel Solidarity Rally” will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, at the Siegel JCC Shalom Central Pavilion. It’s sponsored by the Jewish Federal of Delaware.
“Our hearts remain with all those impacted by these terrible events, in Israel and in our local community,” the JCC’s announcement of the event said. “We pray for a swift end to the violence, a return of the hostages, healing for the wounded, and comfort for the mourners.”
Wilson-Anton’s campaign biography notes that while she was a student at the University of Delaware, she was actively involved in the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine, among many others. They include her social sorority Lambda Pi Chi, which was founded by Latinas.
She said in her email that Palestinian children have higher levels of birth defects due to old chemical weapons used by Israel that remain in the air and soil.
“Due to Israel’s blockade and inhumane treatment of the Palestinians, these children suffer from completely curable ailments,” she said. “One child was unable to walk because he couldn’t get the proper shoes and surgery for having flat feet.
“My heart broke as I watched the desperation of their parents: carrying their children for miles with the hope that they may get needed surgery that day from PCRF surgeons visiting from Delaware. They didn’t feed their children that day, just in case they were chosen for surgery. Can you imagine? “
Wilson-Anton said the world has seen Israeli aggression for years.
“We see constant footage of Israeli settlers kicking Palestinians out of their homes. We watch as Palestinian mothers grieve their children killed unjustly by the Israel Defense Forces,” she said. “This morning the House Speaker sent us an invitation to a rally to “Stand with Israel.” I do not stand with Israel. I stand with the people of Palestine who for too long have been ignored.”
Statements about Israel
Republican caucuses in the Delaware Senate and Delaware House both have issued statements of support.
“The Republican members of the Delaware House of Representatives strongly condemn the hate-filled horrific attacks on Israel on Oct. 7,” their statement said. “We join the majority of the free world in our shock at the loss of Israeli lives at the hands of terrorists who believe there is a twisted glory in the death, torture, rape, and mutilation of innocent men, women, and children.
“Our hearts ache for the victims with every breaking story of the violence and atrocities being committed against the people of Israel. We stand with Israel as they seek justice against those responsible, and we pray for the safe delivery of those whose loved ones are still missing.”
The Senate members said they were praying for Israel’s military.
“Like many of you, we watched and read about the horrific, unprovoked terrorist attacks that occurred throughout the sovereign nation of Israel this weekend,” the Senate statement said. “We witnessed the videos of innocent families being kidnapped, children senselessly murdered, and women dragged through the streets.
“The Delaware State Senate Republican Caucus stands firmly in support of Israel and its people. We mourn for those who have lost family members and pray for Israel’s military personnel who are currently undertaking a campaign to protect its people and territory from terrorist organizations.”
tate Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, who is also Senate minority whip, posted the statement on his Facebook page.
“Yes, I stand with Israel,” he said. “The terrorist organization Hamas launched an attack against a civilian population, has murdered non-combatants including women, children, and infants, and has called for the extermination of Jewish people and the Israeli State.
“It is revolting to see some support this murderous rampage by a known terror organization. Those individuals in positions of power and trust in our country must be called out and be made to answer for their endorsement of these atrocities.”
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience.
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