This evening US House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer visited the Diyanet Center of America in Lanham, MD for a town hall meeting.
I attended this meeting to ask Leader Hoyer about his opinion of Israel arresting Palestinian children. Watch my question below and his remarkable answer:
(Video credit: Saqib Ali)
Written transcript below:
Nathan Feldman: Good evening Congressman. I’d first just like –
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: Why don’t you spread your shawl just a little bit so everybody can see you. "Deport White Supremacy". [referencing the message on Nathan's shirt]
Feldman: So, I’d first like to thank you and the Democratic Party for resisting Marco Rubio’s unconstitutional attempts to subvert our right to boycott as American citizens in the Senate. Obviously, last session, there was a similar bill introduced by Ben Cardin, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which you unfortunately cosponsored – but I want to give you credit for not cosponsoring it this time around with Marco Rubio.
But I’d like to ask you about Israeli military detention of Palestinian children, which is a common practice. Hundreds of Palestinian children are in military detention every year; it’s somewhat reflected in Trump’s detention of immigrant children here in the United States. Israeli military courts do not withhold evidence extracted through torture, confessions in languages children don’t know, among other crimes that are committed against children that are living in Israeli military detention.
So, last session, Congresswoman McCollum introduced legislation ensuring US funding did not go to this practice. [Applause]
Please help pass this legislation to pull US funding from military detention of Palestinian children. I’d love to encourage you and the Democratic Party to sponsor similar legislation this session, see if we can get more cosponsors, and withdraw that aid, so that Palestinian children don’t live in fear of being unjustly arrested or detained by the IDF. [Applause]
Hoyer: Well, let me say Betty McCollum from Minnesota is an excellent representative, and as you probably know, one of the ranking members of the [inaudible] appropriations committee. She chairs the natural resources subcommittee and so is one of the higher-rankers of the appropriations committee. Therefore when she offers a bill, it gives some credence to it because she is the leader [inaudible].
I’ll talk for a bit about that specific bill. Clearly, no-one ought to support, condone, or fund the incarceration or the holding of innocent children. Period. [Applause] Whether it’s in the United States, or Israel, or in any other country.
I’m going to just say that with respect to the taking of children from their, uh, parents as they cross the border, is contrary to the values of this country, and should be condemned and were condemned and were theoretically – theoretically – stopped. However, I was in El Paso a week ago with Veronica Escobar, who represents that district in the Congress of the United States. We met with a mother whose two children had been taken from her in October. Theoretically, the policy stopped this summer, but they had been taken from her in October.
But whether it’s Israel, Palestinian children, or whether it’s on border with Mexican, El-Salvadoran children, or with any other country, that should not happen, and we should not condone or support it. And ought to condemn.
Feldman: Thank you very much, and I think we all look forward to seeing the legislation. [Applause]