VIDEO: Summer Lee Joins Rabbis for Ceasefire in Press Conference Calling for Ceasefire, Safe Return of Hostages, Steps Towards Lasting Peace and Safety for All Israelis and Palestinians

Nov 14, 2023
Press

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

November 13, 2023 

Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov

VIDEO: Summer Lee Joins Rabbis for Ceasefire in Press Conference Calling for Ceasefire, Safe Return of Hostages, Steps Towards Lasting Peace and Safety for All Israelis and Palestinians

“I’m standing here not in spite of the fact that I’m an Israeli citizen, whose father, grandmother going back generations in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel – I’m not here in spite of that. I’m here because of it. When I call for a ceasefire, it’s for my family, for my aunts for my uncles. It’s for my son who has three Israeli great grandparents because I know that none of us will ever be safe while we keep doing what we’re doing.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Summer Lee (D-PA-12) joined dozens of Rabbis in a press conference with Members of Congress calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and urging Congress and the Biden administration to support the Ceasefire Now resolution in order to protect and return Israeli hostages and prevent the death of thousands more innocent Palestinian civilians and regional war. 

Watch the full press conference here.

The press conference comes after 750 North American Rabbis and Cantors across the country called for a ceasefire and 80 rabbis released a video calling for a ceasefire. Last week, an Israeli-American dual citizen from Pittsburgh wrote an op-ed for the Pittsburgh Tribune in which she wrote, “Being pro-Israel means demanding an end to the horrors that are currently being perpetrated against the people of Gaza. Being pro-Israel means calling on Israel to act within the bounds of justice and law, to seek true solutions, to end war and not to perpetuate it. It is time for Americans, too, to learn a new way of being pro-Israel.” This also comes one week after Rep. Lee joined a press conference with veterans of the post-9/11 wars who, informed by their experiences, called for a ceasefire the day before Veterans’ Day.

Rabbi Abby Stein, a dual Israeli-American citizen who had multiple loved ones killed in the horrific terrorist attack by Hamas said, “I’m standing here not in spite of the fact that I’m an Israeli citizen, whose father, grandmother going back generations in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel – I’m not here in spite of that. I’m here because of it. When I call for a ceasefire, it’s for my family, for my aunts for my uncles. It’s for my son who has three Israeli great grandparents because I know that none of us will ever be safe while we keep doing what we’re doing. So I’m begging you. Do it for me, do it for all of our families.

Rabbi Brian Walt said, “I was born just seven years before the Holocaust, never again, was a central to the Judaism. I learned as a child, and never again has been important part of the Jewish tradition. This is a moral outrage that is happening, how many children will need to die before people insist on a ceasefire. The future the safety of the Jewish people, and the Palestinian people are intertwined. We must create a place where Jews and Palestinians can live in equality, freedom and justice. So thank you for calling a ceasefire. And thank you to thank you to all the rabbis that led us this morning in suggesting it’s not either or, it’s both.”

Rabbi Salem Pierce said, “I am here today as a proud inheritor of the Jewish prophetic tradition. In 1965, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marched with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma carrying the Torah It was there that he said I felt like my legs were praying. Jews in our community often want to be the inheritors of Rabbi Herschel’s prophetic vision. We talked last about Rabbi Herschel’s anti war vision and explaining to a reporter why he was at a Vietnam War protest. Rabbi Heschel said I’m here because I cannot pray whenever I open the prayer book. So it is in Rabbi Herschel’s spirit that I’m here today as a Rabbi for ceasefire. I’m here because when I opened my prayer book, I cannot pray. I see kidnapped and killed children. There’s no limit to the concern I feel for the suffering of human beings. And I will not stand idly by the blood of my neighbor.

Congresswoman Lee said:

“I want to thank everybody so much for being here. I’m a freshman member. I’m Summer Lee. I represent the12th congressional district in Pittsburgh, a town that is reeling from the deadliest antisemitic attack in the history of the United States. 

“It’s a community that has been in constant grief, not just since October 7, but much longer since 10/27/2018. When I came into this job, I had no way of preparing myself for this for the crisis of this magnitude, but not just a crisis, but the way that we are received  calling for common sense. I’m Summer Lee and I am proud to stand here with my colleagues and with so many of these courageous rabbis who are here to call for a ceasefire. The last month has been one of the most devastating of my time in office. When you step forward to run for political office, these are the moments that you simply can’t imagine or prepare for. But I do understand that we are called for a moment such as this. It’s not easy to stand up when there are so many voices saying we’re wrong. Which is why I don’t for a second take for granted the courage of the Jewish rabbis here with us today,  who are leading the charge, even in the midst of the immense pain and suffering they’re facing, are saying “never again for anyone.” Your voices are needed now more than ever. 

“Together, we hold in our hearts and memories the 1,200 innocent Israelis who were murdered by Hamas one month ago. For so many in the Jewish community in Western Pennsylvania and across the country, they were family members, friends, community members, and loved ones. May their memory be a blessing.

“Our hearts are large enough to grieve those lost on October 7th, and on every day since then. We can – and we must – also grieve the thousands of Palestinian civilians who have been taken from us. Everyday, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is becoming an unmitigated catastrophe. 11,000 Palestinians have been killed. Over 4300 children have been killed.  

“There are 2.2 million people in Gaza. 1.7 million of them have been displaced. 77%. 


“Back in my district, I met a community member. I met another person, though not in my district, who lost 99. That is not a unique story. Full bloodlines have been erased due to indiscriminate bombings.

“Nobody is safe. Critical infrastructure is gone. There are no more universities in Gaza. Houses, churches, mosques, schools, playgrounds, markets, and hospitals have been targeted and destroyed.

“Not even hospitals are safe. Just yesterday, Doctors Without Borders described the dire situation in Gaza. In the midst of a bombardment on hospital grounds, people are being murdered while waiting for treatment for their wounds. Three babies have died in the NICU, and 36 more are fighting for their lives.

“THIS is why we’re calling for a ceasefire now. We must understand the urgency of this moment. Rabbis and Jewish community-members around the world are saying “Not in Our Name.” And those of my colleagues that are standing here – despite the hate and attacks and pressure – are here to say “Not on Our Watch.”

“I refuse to send more bombs to Israel and band-aids to Gaza. I refuse to cosign a war on babies. A right to defense doesn’t mean the right to kill indiscriminately.

“We are our nation’s pro-peace movement–all of us seeking to build a future where everyone, no matter where they live, has the opportunity to achieve their dreams free from the worry of war and destruction. Thank you to the rabbi who welcomed me here today. Thank you for your courage, thank you for your strength. I am committed to continue the fight shoulder-to-shoulder with you for peace, for human rights, for the fight against antisemitism, and for the dignity of all people.”

_____________________________________________________________________

Since the horrific October 7th attack by Hamas, Lee has co-sponsored a resolution condemning Hamas and demanding the release of Israeli civilians, co-authored a letter to the State Department to demand an urgent briefing on the safety of civilians, the efforts to release the hostages, and the status of American citizens in Israel and Palestine, and cosponsored the Ceasefire Now Resolution to protect innocent Palestinian civilians and preserve the lives of Israeli hostages

Lee has also worked with State Department to help multiple constituents seeking safe departure from Israel and Gaza


Lee is simultaneously focused on combating rising antisemitism and islamophobia at home. After reports of antisemitic property damage in Pittsburgh’s Frick Park, Lee met community in the neighborhood as well as city officials discussing action to stop these unacceptable incidences of antisemitic vandalism ensure all constituents feel safe and protected.

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