As Biden visits Mideast, some Minnesotans call for ceasefire in Israel-Hamas conflict
Hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol on Wednesday — many watching closely the fighting in Israel and Gaza.
“I have been honestly traumatized by the events I’ve been seeing in Gaza,” said Matt Streitz, from Minneapolis.
“It’s a 74-year long conflict that has only gotten more devastating with time,” added Oliver Eknes, of Roseville.
Amid chants of “Free Palestine,” others were calling for a two-state solution as the best hope for peace — an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, giving both sides their own territory.
“An establishment of a state in Palestine that has rights for everyone, for Jews, for Muslims, for Christians,” Streitz says. “Democracy and civil rights that are enshrined for everyone.”
Earlier Wednesday, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
“What took place, what is taking place, right now is devastating on both sides,” declared Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of CAIR Minnesota. “Why ceasefire? It is the most important step right now. Nothing short of a ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to be given to people in Gaza, as well as Israel.”
President Joe Biden, traveling to Israel on Wednesday, reaffirmed America’s support.
“I come to Israel with a single message,” the president said. “You’re not alone, you’re not alone.”
Steve Hunegs, executive firector of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, is voicing concern about a ceasefire.
“Well, that’s hard to imagine with Americans held hostage right now in Gaza,” he says. “It’ll leave intact the Hamas terror network, which crossed the border and killed thousands of Israelis in cold blood in the most barbarous way.”
The Council on Foreign Relations says multiple U.S. administrations have proposed a peace process that would result in two states.
Honegs says he always tries to remain optimistic. He recalls how the Egyptian-Israeli War in 1973 ended with a peace treaty.
“That holds out some hope, perhaps, that things are possible in the Middle East,” Honegs explains. “There’s much contemplation about what a post-Hamas future looks like for Gaza, and I’m hoping people with great imagination and humanity are thinking through these issues at this time.”
Among those at the Capitol on Wednesday, St. Paul resident Jeremy Smith says he, too, tries to stay upbeat but fears this will be a long and tough war.
“At the end of the day, we’re human. We need to learn to talk with each other,” he says. “It’s going to be a long time before anything’s resolved.”