Bipartisan Michigan House resolution to condemn violence in Israel may be doomed ⋆
A House resolution in support of Israel in the wake of recent deadly attacks by Islamic militant group Hamas on Thursday wasn’t allowed a floor vote.
State Rep. Bill G. Schuette (R-Midland), Jan. 11, 2023 | Laina G. Stebbins
State Rep. Bill G. Schuette (R-Midland) attempted to move his House Resolution 146 from the Government Operations Committee — which is typically where bills go to permanently stall — and onto the House floor for a full vote.
The measure was issued “to condemn the abhorrent violence perpetrated by Hamas in October 2023, call for the release of all hostages held by Hamas, and support Israel’s right to self-defense,” per the resolution’s language.
“I think we should give it an opportunity to have the elected representatives of this body speak on an issue that’s very important,” Schuette said after session Thursday.
The resolution has widespread Republican support with a few Democrats listed as co-sponsors, including Reps. Noah Arbit (D-West Bloomfield), Carrie Rheingans (D-Ann Arbor), Kelly Breen (D-Novi) and Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills).
Israel has since declared war on Hamas. More than 2,000 people have been killed in Israel and Gaza and at least 27 of those killed are Americans.
But the resolution fails to acknowledge the historical suffering of the Palestinian people, House Majority Floor Leader Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) said Wednesday.
“I think any conversation around what is happening in Israel and Palestine that makes no acknowledgement of the 70-plus year occupation and mistreatment of the Palestinian people is disrespectful.” Aiyash said. “It is a disservice to the complexity and the humanity of the people that live in that region. If we want to talk about justice, [if] we want to talk about human rights, [if] we want to talk about protecting civilians, then we must include the conversation around the Palestinian people, particularly in the Gaza Strip, who for decades have endured mistreatment.”
State Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck), Feb. 15, 2023 | Laina G. Stebbins
At the conclusion of Thursday’s House session, Aiyash and Schuette were engaged in a heated discussion.
“What we’re dealing with here is a resolution calling out acts of terror,” Schuette said. “The photos and videos that you’ve seen of beheadings, of mass killings, the largest mass killing of Jewish people since the Holocaust, it is important that this body speaks.”
Aiyash retorted that Republican members have not shown good faith efforts in protecting Jewish people this session.
“I want to iterate to my Republican colleagues that a majority of their caucus refused to support legislation that stands with the Jewish and Arab communities around the Institutional Desecration Act, and the Hate Crimes Act,” he said.
In June, the majority of Republicans in the House voted against legislation to expand the state’s definition of hate crimes and about half of House Republicans voted against legislation to level penalties against those who would cause acts of destruction against religious buildings and cemeteries.
“If my Republican colleagues are serious and want to stand morally upright and say they are against hate and violence, they had an opportunity to do so earlier this term, and a majority of their caucus refused to do so,” Aiyash said.
Those bills are being spearheaded by Arbit, who is Jewish and represents a large portion of Michigan’s Jewish population in West Bloomfield. On Thursday, in the midst of the discussion, he said he is tired of those who speak on behalf of Jewish residents without knowing how painful recent events have been.
State Rep. Noah Arbit (D-West Bloomfield) speaks during a Lansing press conference on bills to strengthen hate crime laws, April 26, 2023 | Laina G. Stebbins
“I’m quite sick of colleagues who are not Jewish trying to speak on behalf of the Jewish community and not giving deference to Jewish members who are actually experiencing the pain of this moment and actually responding to the pain and concerns of constituents in this moment,” Arbit said. “Having other colleagues speak on behalf of those communities. I find it personally offensive. … I think it has no place in a body that is supposed to be filled with mutual respect.”
A similar measure, Senate Resolution 76, was introduced in the upper chamber Wednesday to “support Israel, the long-standing partner of the United States of America, and to clearly condemn the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas against the Israeli people starting on.”
“We need to call out evil whenever it makes itself known,” sponsor Sen. Mark Huizenga (R-Walker) said in a news release Thursday. “Terrorists launched unprovoked, cowardly and deadly attacks against Israel during major holiday festivities. Since those attacks, we’ve learned even more about that evil and about the brutal and gut-wrenching atrocities committed by Hamas and their followers.”
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authored by Anna Liz Nichols
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