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House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert issued the following statement:


“On October 7, 2023, the terrorists of Hamas invaded Israel from the Gaza Strip. They came by car, they came by paraglider, and they came on foot. Over the course of hours, they spread across southern Israel spreading terror and death.

“No one was safe. Women, children, infants, all were slaughtered in the most brutal fashion. Women were raped, mutilated and killed. Babies were placed in ovens and cooked alive. Children were dragged from their hiding places and killed in front of their parents.

“By the time Israel’s armed forces managed to kill or capture the terrorists, more than 1,160 innocent civilians were dead. Israel, as was their right and obligation, responded. Their days of taking half measures against the barbarians of Hamas were over, and the IDF went into Gaza to tear out the organization root and branch. Those efforts continue to this day.

“The protests we’ve seen on our college campuses are not peace demonstrations. Students are holding public spaces for ransom. They are not calling for the release of hostages and the cessation of hostilities on all sides. They are open and obvious calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, the eradication of the millions of Jews who live there, and the establishment of a Palestinian state ‘from the river to the sea.’

“Nonetheless, even the most abhorrent ideas are entitled to the protection of the First Amendment. One may not be arrested for simply espousing these bigoted, antisemitic thoughts. As long as these protests remain inside the rules of these universities, they have a right to happen, no matter how nauseating and odious the views on display.

“If protests move outside of those legal bounds into the realm of intimidation of Jewish students, trespassing, or other illegal activity, they can and should be shut down with professionalism – something we’ve seen from Virginia law enforcement each time they’ve been called to deal with illegal encampments. Again, no one may hold public spaces for ransom, and law enforcement has ensured that such illegal activity is ended before it escalates.

“Virginia’s colleges are not preschools where petulant children need to learn basic rules and manners. Campus officials and law enforcement officers told these young adults the rules. They broke the rules, and now they’ll face the consequences.

“I applaud Governor Youngkin, the Attorney General, and our law enforcement community for the even-handed way they have handled this difficult situation. Some members of the House of Delegates — including Dels. Rozia Henson, Adele McClure, Joshua Cole, and Nadarius Clark — fail to recognize the unlawful nature of some of these protests. They have also associated themselves with the worst of the bigoted messages blaring from speakers on campuses. 

“Let me conclude by saying this: Virginia stands with our Jewish friends and neighbors. We stand with our Israeli allies, and we oppose these bigoted, antisemitic children and their tantrum to the greatest extent possible.”

“Am Yisrael Chai.”