Fellow Democrats denounce Sen. Ron Latz for ‘dehumanizing’ remarks on Palestinians

Fellow Democrats denounce Sen. Ron Latz for ‘dehumanizing’ remarks on Palestinians

Fellow Democrats denounce Sen. Ron Latz for ‘dehumanizing’ remarks on Palestinians

A group of DFL state senators are accusing one of their colleagues of making “dehumanizing” and “inflammatory” comments about Palestinian children.

Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, held a news conference Wednesday to condemn calls for Minnesota’s State Board of Investment to divest from Israeli companies or firms that lend economic or military support to Israel.

While he was at the podium, he reaffirmed his support for Israel and lambasted pro-Palestinian groups while detailing the atrocities of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Over the course of his remarks, he said the culture in Gaza has become “poisonous” for Israel and asserted that Hamas has indoctrinated Gazan children against Israel and Jews.

“Palestinian youth dream of the opportunity to achieve glory and even martyrdom by killing as many Jews as possible,” Latz said.

That line in particular drew sharp criticism from Latz’s fellow party members. On Thursday, a coalition of 13 DFL senators signed onto a letter condemning his remarks, writing that Latz used “dehumanizing, inflammatory language and rhetoric” and “assigned nefarious motives to Palestinian children, describing them all as aspiring murderers.”

“It is unacceptable for people in positions of leadership — particularly those with large public platforms — to use dehumanizing, degrading language to describe entire populations of people,” the letter goes on to say. “The language we use, especially at this moment, matters. As such, we denounce and condemn the dangerous language and rhetoric used by Sen. Latz at his press conference in the strongest terms.”

DFL Party Chair Ken Martin released a broad statement Thursday condemning all antisemitic and Islamophobic rhetoric by elected officials — including among members of the DFL.

“Inflammatory rhetoric from elected officials is counterproductive to addressing rising Islamophobia and antisemitism,” Martin said. “Over the last several years, hateful rhetoric from far-right leaders has fueled both Islamophobia and antisemitism. All DFLers should set a better example and avoid applying broad generalizations to entire groups of people. Part of our values as DFLers is our recognition of the humanity of both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.”

Latz issued a follow-up statement Thursday defending his remarks, saying, “It is unfortunate that some are choosing to attack my speech by taking one sentence of my remarks out of context.”

“The 6 sentences preceding the one they are criticizing make it clear that I am not referring to all Palestinian youth but rather the Gazans who are taught at Hamas-controlled UNRWA schools that Jews should be killed; who attend summer camps that teach young kids how to be terrorists; who play “kill the Jew” on the streets of Gaza; who watch children’s TV shows that glorify the killing of Jews, and who play on UNRWA elementary school playgrounds with plastic AK-47s,” Latz wrote.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas agreed with how Latz characterized Hamas but said he was wrong to use generalizations to describe Palestinians.

“We must all be immensely cautious to avoid using generalizations and dehumanizing language about people due to their national, racial, religious, ethnic, or other identity,” the JCRC said in a statement. “There is nothing hateful, prejudicial, or false in describing Hamas – a terrorist dictatorship guilty of war crimes against both Israelis and the Palestinians it governs – as toxic.