ISRAEL + HAMAS

Resolution to support Israel turns emotional on Utah House floor

Nov 16, 2023, 11:00 AM | Updated: Nov 30, 2023, 5:26 pm

Lawmakers grappled with their emotions while discussing a resolution to support Israel here in Utah...

People attend the Stand with Israel rally at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. H.R. 901 is a resolution meant to protect Israeli Americans, Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, and supporters of Israel. (Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A long and emotional debate over Israel broke out at the Utah State Capitol during House Speaker Mike Schultz’s first day on the job. It was triggered by the consideration of a House resolution expressing the support of Israel in the state of Utah. 

House Resolution Supporting the State of Israel, H.R. 901, emphasizes Utah’s support of the country’s war effort against Hamas. Additionally, the resolution “calls upon Utah law enforcement” to protect “Israeli Americans, Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, [and] supporters of Israel.”

Muslim Americans did not make the list in the first version of the resolution. They were later added via an amendment proposed by Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City.

“The sad fact is that there are people filled with hate in this world,” said Briscoe. “They feel the need to act out on that hate. And they’re taking out that hate on Muslims, they’re taking it out on Jews,” Briscoe added. 

What about Palestinians? 

Some Democrats, such as Rep. Jennifer Dailey-Provost, D-Salt Lake, grew tearful. They argued the resolution was forgetting the experience of Palestinians.

“I’m not unappreciative of this resolution,” Dailey-Provost said. ” I wish that it went further. To show the support we all feel for the horror and pain and loss that are experienced every day in Palestine and the Gaza Strip.”

There were also tears on the Republican side. Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, asked Rep. Jason Kyle, R-Huntsville, the sponsor of the resolution, whether it truly acknowledges the suffering and loss of all human lives, who agreed that it did.

“Later tonight I’m going to just send you an email,” said Ward. “All it’s got are two photos [of] some innocent lives that were lost–a child that was murdered by Hamas, and some Gazan children as well… I think just looking at them is worthwhile as you decide how you feel about the issue overall.

Some Republicans pushed back, including Rep. Brady Brammer, R-Pleasant Grove, who blamed the conflict’s atrocities in Gaza on Hamas.

“This isn’t a ‘both-sides’ thing,” said Brammer. “It was initiated by brutal, terroristic, inhumane actions — murdering civilians. If you have rage as to what is happening within Gaza, I instruct you, I implore you — point that rage at Hamas.”

He added that small changes in the war’s framing can lead to what he says is antisemitism.

“Phrases like, when someone commits war crimes against Israel, instead of calling it war crimes you call it war,” said Brammer.“When Israel defends itself, instead of calling it war, you call it a war crime. Small changes of the mind.”

Pushback on the resolution to support Israel in Utah

Opposition to the resolution was scarce, but Minority Assistant Whip Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, said she couldn’t vote yes to a bill that picked a side. But she added that her down-vote didn’t indicate a lack of support toward the Jewish community.

“I truly support them and what they’re going through. Trust me, as a Black woman in this state, I understand it. I have been there.”

The resolution sailed through the House with a vote of 62 to 3.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect language that H.R. 901 is a resolution, not a bill. 

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Resolution to support Israel turns emotional on Utah House floor