Editorial: Rep. Tim Hernández shouldn’t stay silent on the murder, rape and torture of innocent Israelis

Newly appointed Colorado state Rep. Tim Hernández clarified that he was rallying for support of Palestinians and not for Hamas on the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol only a day after Hamas militants murdered, raped, and kidnapped hundreds of innocent Israelis near the Gaza border.

While we appreciate the clarification, and while we also pray for the hundreds of innocent Palestinians who were killed in recent days as casualties of the war sparked by Hamas, we cannot help but note what Hernández has refused to do – condemn Hamas’ terrorism.

“I condemn war for any loss at all,” Hernández wrote in a prepared statement responding to both accusations that he was tacitly endorsing violence by his presence at the rally, and to a video recording a conversation he had with a counter-protester where he appeared to refuse to condemn the violence. “War threatens the dignity of life for citizens in all of Gaza, in all of Israel, and across the Earth, and I hope one day soon we may build a world free from war entirely.”

Dallying with violence and terrorism and acts of pure evil by mincing his words makes us realize that Hernández considers this an abstract exercise in political gamesmanship – perhaps the type of contrarian debate a freshman philosophy major would engage in during class as an exercise, not the real-world response needed in the face of beheadings and torture.

Hernández has played this game before – albeit on a much smaller scale of importance — refusing to condemn the actions of some bad actors during the Black Lives Matter protests who vandalized buildings in downtown Denver and Aurora. He told 9News when asked about whether he thinks violence is necessary that he personally isn’t a violent person but that he wasn’t “here to police protest.”

Now he says “I’m against attacking innocent people” but refuses to say that Hamas doing just that over the weekend is wrong.

As a member of the Colorado House of Representatives, appointed by a few members of a committee to fill a vacancy, his words and actions carry the weight of his constituents.

Hernández has clearly decided somewhere in his life that ugly means justify righteous ends. In this case, Hernández is going so far as to stay silent on terrorism because it is a means of smashing the apartheid state that exists in Israel and Gaza for Palestinians.

We also support an end to the cruel conditions and inhumane treatment Israel has imposed on Palestinians. But to be clear Hamas is not seeking a political end to restrictions on travel and dependence on aid. Hamas – as a matter of policy – refuses to accept Israel’s right to exist and is seeking the destruction of the country and the claim of holy lands. Hamas leaders have refused peace talks in its call for Israel’s destruction. Israel must defend itself from such attacks and protect its innocent civilians simply trying to exist in the Middle East.

The actions of Hamas fighters and leaders in recent days are so clearly evil, so hate-filled and so ignorant that basic human decency requires their condemnation.

Had Hernández unequivocally said these things during the pro-Palestinian protest this week, we would not have been spurred to single him out for such derision, although we find such judgment questionable.

But this newly-minted official cannot find the words to oppose terrorism, claiming instead the complexity of the situation calls for nuance. The issue seems clear to us – the most successful movements in the world’s history for justice – whether led by Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King – emphasized non-violence.

Hernández doesn’t have to be perfect in his fight against injustice, but he cannot be a state legislator and tacitly support the murder, rape and torture of innocent people as part of a philosophical question of how to stop injustice in the Middle East.

We would hope to see Hernández use his position for good in this debate, standing beside both Israelis and Palestinians in an American protest for peace.

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