Becca Balint Becomes First Jewish Lawmaker to Call for Gaza Ceasefire

  • Democratic Rep. Becca Balint of Vermont is now calling for a ceasefire in Israel’s war on Hamas.
  • She’s the first Jewish member of Congress to do so.
  • Killing civilians, and killing children, is an abomination,” she wrote in an op-ed.

Democratic Rep. Becca Balint of Vermont on Thursday became the first Jewish member of Congress to call for a ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas.

“What is needed right now is an immediate break in violence to allow for a true negotiated cease-fire,” Balint wrote in an op-ed for VTDigger, a local news site in her home state.

It’s a shift from her previous position, when she said in a statement that she supported Israel’s “right to defend itself after the unprecedented surprise attack against them” while urging the country to avoid “collective punishment” against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

But in the op-ed, Balint indicated that she had changed her mind in part due to the suffering of Palestinians in the wake of the October 7 Hamas attack.

“I do not claim to know how to solve every aspect of this decades-long conflict,” wrote Balint. “But what I do know is that killing civilians, and killing children, is an abomination and categorically unacceptable — no matter who the civilians are, and no matter who the children are.”

Balint, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, had faced pressure from progressives to urge for a ceasefire. And the topic remains controversial within the Democratic Party.

On Wednesday, two dozen progressive lawmakers led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York urged President Joe Biden to support a ceasefire.

Opponents of a ceasefire, including many Jewish Democrats, have argued that doing so would only allow Hamas to regain strength and attack Israel again in the future.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, another progressive Jewish lawmaker from Vermont, has resisted calling for a ceasefire, though he has argued that Israel is violating international law.

In her op-ed, Balint acknowledged those critics’ concerns about a ceasefire, writing that a “lasting” ceasefire “can only work if Hamas does not continue to rule in Gaza.”

But she also said that the continued existence of Hamas does not justify current Israeli actions, which have led to the deaths of thousands of Palestinians in the last several weeks.

“Even with Hamas operations intentionally embedded among civilians, Israel cannot bomb targets in densely populated areas,” wrote Balint. “The United States must demand it.”

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