The Illinois legislature met last week for the first time since the horrific attack on Israel and the equally horrific murder in Illinois of the 6-year-old Muslim boy stabbed to death in an apparent hate crime. Usually, such momentous events lead to legislators making speeches on the House floor condemning attacks on innocent civilians.
Shockingly though, not a single Democrat rose to the floor to condemn either attack. Nor did any legislator speak in gratitude that two Illinois citizens held hostage by Hamas were released. I and another Republican offered resolutions condemning the attack on Israel and spoke about them. No Democrat offered their own comments or resolution. Their silence made no sense.
What’s going on?
In Illinois, Democrats control both chambers with overwhelming super-majorities and use the legislative process to weigh in on any and every topic. For example, this year the Illinois House passed resolutions supporting an animal shelter, Equal Pay Day, and Diapers Need Awareness Week. From the mundane to the important, Democrats always speak up and file resolutions to make a point or support their causes.
More specifically, on the topic of Israel, in 2021, a leading Jewish legislator passed a resolution supporting the study of the Holocaust by Illinois school children. That same year, a bill was signed into law extending the Holocaust and Genocide Commission Act to 2032.
In March of this year, the Illinois Senate adopted a resolution recognizing the 75th anniversary “of the establishment of the sovereign and independent State of Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people.” The resolution “Reaffirms bonds of friendship and cooperation between the United States, Illinois, and Israel and commits to strengthening these bonds” and “Reaffirms support for Israel’s right to defend itself against threats to its security and existence.” Yet, just a few months later, not a word was said in the Senate about the brutal attack by Hamas on innocent unarmed Israelis.
To be clear, following the initial attack on Israel, many Democrats made statements and took action. Governor JB Pritzker strongly condemned the attack by Hamas and the murder of the Palestinian-American young boy. The Democrat comptroller fired an attorney on her staff for virulently antisemitic social media messages.
State Rep. Bob Morgan, the co-chair of the Illinois Legislative Jewish Caucus, wrote an opinion piece published in the Chicago Tribune about the massacre and his own experience with antisemitism. In that article, he called out the 16 progressive members of his own Democrat House caucus who wrote a letter insinuating Israel brought on the attack because Palestinians are denied basic human rights. His Jewish Caucus also published their own condemnation statement of Hamas’ attack.
However, there has been no specific, directed response from Pritzker or Democrat leaders to pro-Palestine and anti-Israel actions.
BLM Chicago’s graphic celebrating Hamas’ slaughter of Israelis received national attention and outrage, but there’s been no specific comment chastising them from leading Democrats.
As mentioned, 16 Democrat state legislators published a letter supporting Palestinians. With the exception of Rep. Morgan, no other prominent Democrats have mentioned that letter.
There have been repeated pro-Palestine marches in the Chicago area calling for America not to support Israel and calling for a cease fire as Israel readies to go after Hamas, and again, no denouncement of those marching.
In Skokie, a historically Jewish community, a young man attending a pro-Israel rally was attacked by a pro-Palestine mob, and again Democrat leaders have been silent.
In any other comparable situation, Democrats, who represent these Democrat constituencies, would have stood on the House floor and in long floor speeches denounced the attack on the Jewish faith, condemned the pro-Palestine marches, and asserted that “Hate Has No Home Here.” Instead, there was deafening silence in the Illinois legislature that leads Illinoisans to wonder if a gag order on the topic has been issued.
That silence can mean only one thing: JB Pritzker is making a political calculation for a future presidential run.
Condemning Hamas as Pritzker did is politically safe, but attacking far-Left extremists in his own party and organizations that get out the vote for Democrats is not good for Pritzker politically.
As for the other Illinois Democrats, their collective silence signifies that they know who controls their party and the purse strings to power.
Democrat State Rep. Bob Morgan closed his opinion piece by stating, “If your neighbor, elected official or local activist organization cannot speak that truth [i.e., condemnation of Hamas], they are excusing terrorism, full stop.”
Republicans agree with Rep. Morgan on that statement. We need to stand together against evil. We must refuse to be silenced by others for their political purposes.
State Representative Brad Halbrook, Republican, represents Illinois’ 107th District.