Approximately 30 protesters gathered outside of U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper’s (D-CO) Colorado Springs office Monday afternoon to oppose military aid funding to Israel and urge Hickenlooper to support a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.
Brandon Rincon, one of the organizers of the event, said they oppose the House Republican plan to provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel.
“We’re out here in opposition to the House bill that just got passed,” said Rincon. “We’re trying to let our senator know that it can’t be passed through the Senate for $14 billion.”
Democrats have vowed to oppose the bill in the Senate and the White House has promised to veto it.
“We’re also just here to confront Hickenlooper’s past tendencies on his anti-BDS [boycott, divest, sanction] legislation. We’re just out here for a free Palestine.”
In 2016, while Governor, Hickenlooper signed into law House Bill 1284, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Republican Dan Nordberg and Democrat Dominick Moreno that requires the state’s retirement program to divest from companies that boycott Israel. Hickenlooper has shown support for Israel since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, which killed over 1,000 Israeli civilians and approximately 350 Israeli soldiers, according to the Times of Israel.
“We stand firmly with Israel and support Israelis’ right to defend themselves,” said Hickenlooper in an Oct. 10 news release. “Hamas is an Iranian-backed terrorist organization that does not speak for all Palestinians. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is both tragic and complex. We denounce Hamas and its terror tactics, including hostage-taking and the massacre of civilians. We must find solutions while always condemning the killing of innocent people.”
Since the Oct. 7 attacks, Israel has responded with air strikes. The Associated Press has reported that, according to the Health Ministry of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, the Palestinian death toll has surpassed 10,000 as of Monday. Casualties are expected to rise as Israel begins its anticipated ground assault.
“The Nakba [the mass displacement and dispossession of Palestinians during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war], that was systemic violence, and the occupation that has resulted from that is violence,” said Evan Weissman, a member of the Denver/Boulder Jewish Voice for Peace. “On Oct. 7, Hamas’s attack was violence. That was violence. And who stood up to that violence? Violence is the enemy here. The siege of Gaza — the brutal, horrific, obscene siege — is a product of violence, and it has to stop.”
Hatem Teirelbar, a University of Colorado Denver student and organizer with the Denver Students for a Democratic Society, accused Israel of commiting genocide against the Palestinians. “U.S. aid to Israel is used to purchase weapons or fund the army that is massacring Palestinians,” he said. “I think it’s safe to say that voting to support aid to Israel makes someone complicit in genocide.”
On Oct. 18, Hickenlooper joined 33 Senators in signing a letter urging the Biden administration to lead the international community in contributing to the United Nations’ emergency appeal of $294 million to address the immediate humanitarian needs in the West Bank and Gaza.
“We condemn Hamas’ horrific terrorist attacks against Israel, for which Israel must hold Hamas accountable,” said Hickenlooper in an Oct. 27 news release. “In the course of that endeavor, every effort must be made to protect innocent civilians. Right now, hospitals in Gaza are hours away from running out of fuel that powers ventilators, incubators for babies, and other lifesaving equipment, and diseases are rapidly spreading without power to treat and pump clean drinking water. To prevent a potential health crisis and help save countless lives, we believe it is possible to transport fuel directly to these hospitals, desalination plants, and water pumping stations with full transparency to prevent diversion to Hamas. There are extensive oversight mechanisms in place that will track the fuel deliveries directly to the intended sites where they can be used immediately to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians, including babies and children. We encourage the Biden administration to work with our Israeli, Egyptian, and UN partners to enable these lifesaving deliveries.”
Hickenlooper has not called for a cease-fire, but did call for a “humanitarian pause” on Saturday.