Two weeks after the screening in the Knesset of the film of Hamas' atrocities on October 7, more lawmakers watched the film that includes very difficult documentation of the massacre committed by Hamas terrorists, this time in the United States. Hours before the giant pro-Israel rally in Washington on Tuesday , the Israeli Embassy in the United States screened the 47-minute film compiled by the IDF spokesman from body-cam footage and cell phone videos to about 150 members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats.
The screening was organized by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and many members of Congress were very upset by the film, including those considered critical of Israel. US senators will have the opportunity to see a screening of the film on Thursday.
The Jewish Insider site reported that the legislators left the hall in silence, looking shocked, with some crying and consoling each other. One of them, Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Wash., left the screening in tears less than five minutes after entering.
Among those present was New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, from the party's progressive wing, who just a day earlier participated in a rally outside of Congress where she and her fellow progressive Squad members called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.
"How can anyone call a cease-fire after seeing this?" said Republican Rep. Mike Lawler, who visited Israel over the weekend, as he left the screening.
Other congressmen compared the shocking sights to the Holocaust. "I feel the same way I felt when I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau," said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. "These are war crimes." Ted Lieu, D-Calif., said only: "Never again."
Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., said she was "simply shocked," adding: "Seeing on video people celebrating the murder of Jews shows us who is standing in front of us. It is unbelievable to see things like this in 2023, in places we have all been."
Sara Jacobs, D-Calif., added: "It's horrifying and terrifying."
Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson attended the screening for a few minutes. He later described the film as "agonizing" and urged the Senate to pass legislation to increase aid to Israel, "because the movie makes everyone cry," he said.
"I agree with our friend, Prime Minister Netanyahu, who said that this is a war between good and evil, between light and darkness, between civilization and barbarism," added Johnson. "We want to make it clear where America stands in this war, and we will continue to do so."
Israel's ambassador to Washington Mike Herzog said that Israel will continue to present the evidence of Hamas atrocities on October 7 to fight the deniers and show the international community that it cannot allow a cruel enemy that celebrates the massacre to continue repeating its actions.
Meanwhile, on Monday, progressive Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who refuses to publicly support a cease-fire despite the pressure exerted on him by a small number of his constituents and colleagues, met at the Israeli consulate in New York with Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan. He said that he came to the meeting to "hear directly from key leaders about urgent efforts to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and end the unacceptably high loss of civilian life."
Together with his colleague Sen. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, Sanders also met with the Palestinian representative in the U.N., Riyad Mansour, the U.S. representative to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and with the U.N. Sec.-Gen. Antonio Guterres. At the same time, the members of the progressive wing in the House of Representatives known as the squad held a press conference, and called for an immediate cease-fire.
In a statement issued by Waltz and Sanders, they said that the meetings are being held, "with the aim of doing everything we can to stop the indiscriminate bombings that are causing massive civilian casualties, and to bring desperately needed humanitarian aid and protect innocent people in Gaza. This is a humanitarian catastrophe and we need to act now." They expressed their condolences to Guterres for the loss of more than 100 U.N. aid workers in Gaza and "cheered the courage of UN personnel who continue to do life-saving work under extremely difficult circumstances."
Sanders has said several times that, despite his support for a cease-fire for humanitarian purposes, he "does not see how it is possible to reach a permanent cease-fire with an organization like Hamas, whose goal is to destroy the State of Israel. I think the Arab countries in the region understand that Hamas must disappear." Nevertheless, he attacked Israel's policy during a speech to members of Congress regarding the American aid package, and called on the White House to intervene immediately for a humanitarian cease-fire.
Sanders condemned Hamas and called the regime a "nightmare," but claimed that the Israeli occupation and the policies of the Netanyahu government led to the conditions that created the October 7 attack. "Israel has no right to bomb an entire neighborhood to eliminate one unit of Hamas, but that is what it is doing. Just as we want justice for Israelis murdered by Hamas, we want justice for the Palestinians, who need a state. The first step should be to stop the bombings and deliver as much aid as possible Humanitarian to Gaza," he said on Monday.