Sen. John Fetterman, D-Penn., has emerged as one of the most reliable supporters of the Jewish community in his hometown, which is located a handful of miles from where the deadliest massacre of Jews happened in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh five years ago. This support is changing how many in the state see him.
David Knoll, a Pittsburgh-based businessman and Democrat who launched a last-minute quixotic challenge to local county councilwoman Bethany Hallam over her social media posts supporting anti-Semitism, said, “Fetterman has been better than anyone could have hoped, and honestly did not see that coming, but we welcome his support whole-heartedly.”
Knoll, who lives in Squirrel Hill, said what he especially loves is Fetterman’s refusal to cower to either the members of the media or members of his own party who are at odds with his staunch support of Israel.
Fetterman, in an interview with the Washington Examiner, said he is not concerned about falling in or out of some sort of political categorization. “I am not worried about labels or what people want to label me, I am about being clear where I stand, and I always have been,” he said in an emailed interview.
“I am on what I believe is the right side of this issue, I’m not concerned about a label. Israel is our key, closest ally, and we need to support them in this fight,” he said, adding, “if we want peace and we want a two-state solution, then Israel needs to be able to destroy Hamas.”
Fetterman said he fundamentally believes destroying Hamas is the only pathway to a real solution to this conflict, “And it’s not at all at odds with my other beliefs. Hamas has systematically used rape and murder as part of its war, brutalizing Israeli women. It’s horrifying. We cannot pretend that Hamas is a rational entity.”
Knoll said he and other members of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh are deeply concerned by the recent antisemitic graffiti and vandalism that has happened in Squirrel Hill. Pro-Israel flags have even been burned in front of people’s houses.
Last week, there was an “unfounded” online threat made at an unnamed local synagogue that Pittsburgh police said they were still investigating.
Fetterman said he and his office unequivocally have their back. “We stand with you and support you. You have an ally in me, and please do not hesitate to reach out to my office if there is anything we can help you with,” he said.
One of the first things Fetterman did this past week was calling Michael Solomonov, a Pittsburgh native, chef and restaurateur, whose vegan falafel shop Goldie became the target of hundreds of agitated pro-Palestinian protesters who had gathered in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, then took their march down Sansom Street, chanting, “Goldie, Goldie you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide,” as they made their way toward Solomonov’s restaurant.
Organized by the Philadelphia Free Palestine Coalition, a Facebook post instructed supporters to “flood the streets” Sunday night, and they did, shouting anti-Semitic remarks and placing pro-Palestinian stickers on the doors of businesses along their route.
Fetterman said he talked with Michael to let him know he has his back. “The fact that an angry mob attacked a Jewish business is completely appalling and frankly shocking that this can even happen. Everyone needs to swiftly condemn what happened. I’ve spoken to a lot of different people from the Jewish community across Pennsylvania, and they are actually feeling unsafe right now. And now, you have a mob attacking a Jewish restaurant in downtown Philadelphia. It’s unacceptable.”
Salena Zito is a CNN political analyst, and a staff reporter and columnist for the Washington Examiner. She reaches the Everyman and Everywoman through shoe-leather journalism, traveling from Main Street to the beltway and all places in between. To find out more about Salena and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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