Dick Durbin Is the First Senator to Demand a Ceasefire in Gaza

Politicians have tap-danced around the issue. Durbin came out and said it.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Committee Chair, during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the Bureau of Prisons, at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, September 13, 2023.

Graeme Sloan/ AP

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Nearly a month into a non-stop airstrike campaign by Israeli forces on the Gaza Strip, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has officially become the first member of the Senate to call for a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. Since the October 7 attack by Hamas that killed more than 1,400 people in Israel, the nation’s military has reportedly killed more than 9,000 Palestinian people in the territory. In an interview with CNN, Durbin urged the immediate release of Hamas’ hundreds of hostages and the expansion of conversations between Israeli and Palestinian officials.

“Let’s face it, this has gone on for decades,” said Durbin. “Whatever the rationale for the beginning, it has now reached an intolerable level. We need to have a resolution in the Middle East that gives some promise for the future.” 

Many other politicians, while offering flimsy calls for peace, have avoided the term “ceasefire”—including President Joe Biden, who recently called for a “pause” for the first time since the war began. Durbin is the first senator to use direct language objecting to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies, a stance he’s reportedly held for several years.

Other legislators, primarily Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), have also called for a ceasefire. Last week, Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) attempted to censure Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American in Congress, for engaging in “antisemitic activity” after she expressed concern over the United States’ role in supplying Israel with weapons. Greene also falsely accused Tlaib of “leading an insurrection” for reportedly attending a pro-Palestine demonstration organized by a Jewish advocacy group. The House rejected the censure on Wednesday.

“Achieving a just and lasting peace where Israelis and Palestinians have equal rights and freedoms,” Tlaib said in a statement, “and where no person lives in fear for their safety, requires ending the blockade, occupation, and dehumanizing system of apartheid.”

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