An Israeli family of five, including twin 6-year-old girls and their 4-year-old brother, were murdered by Hamas last weekend. Tamar Kedem-Siman Tov and her husband Yonatan rushed into the bunker on Saturday, Oct. 7, with their daughters Shachar and Arbel and son Omer at their home in Nir Oz, a kibbutz on the outskirts of Gaza. They were eventually discovered and slaughtered by Hamas terrorists who infiltrated their Kibbutz — just because they were Jews.
The Kedem-Siman family joins countless others who have become victims of Hamas. The images and stories are disturbing and countless. A young woman was caught on camera being kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on a motorcycle. Another woman taken from a music festival by gunmen was paraded around in the back of a truck — naked her body broken. At the time of this writing, at least 900 people had lost their lives in Israel over the last few days simply because of that nation’s Jewish heritage. A gut-wrenching tragedy that pierces the hearts of humanity reminding us of the urgency to stand up against discrimination, hatred and violence.
In a world rife with conflicts and divisions, it is imperative to foster solidarity with our allies, especially when they endure unfathomable threats and attacks. One such nation in dire need of unwavering support is Israel. Discrimination in various forms continues to plague Israel, necessitating resolute support from allies. Alaska possesses a unique opportunity to stand firmly against discrimination by adopting the Israel Anti-Discrimination Act (HB 2). In doing so, Alaska not only reiterates its dedication to defending democracy and human rights but also reaffirms its steadfast alliance with Israel.
The United States has stood by Israel since its inception as a nation in 1948. This longstanding alliance has not only benefited both nations but has also provided a stabilizing force in a turbulent region. This alliance underscores the importance of supporting Israel unequivocally, especially in times of adversity.
Alaska may seem far removed from what takes place in the Middle East, but as a state, we strive to do the right thing and to protect our interests. Israel and Alaska enjoy an important and mutually beneficial relationship. This includes Israel related investments by the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation along with Alaska’s exports to Israel, which since 1996 totaled nearly $62 million. In addition, Alaska is a key site for U.S. Israel missile defense cooperation. The U.S. and Israel regularly conduct cooperative missile defense program tests such as Arrow-3, at the Alaska Aerospace Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak.
The Israel Anti-Discrimination Act (HB 2) represents a crucial step in ensuring that Alaska’s state dollars do not inadvertently fund discriminatory actions against Israel. By prohibiting the state from contracting with entities that actively discriminate against Israel, this legislation reinforces the values of equality, inclusivity, and fairness that are fundamental to the Alaskan and American identity.
Adopting HB 2 presents Alaska with a unique opportunity to act on its convictions. It is a chance to vehemently stand against genocide, discrimination, and prejudice, sending a resounding message that Alaska values human rights, and equality, not just within its borders, but across the globe.
In tandem with the proposed Alaska legislation, it is imperative that we engage with the nationwide momentum toward countering discrimination against Israel. A parallel effort, The Countering Hate Against Israel (CHAI) by Federal Contractors Act (H.R. 4564), has gained bipartisan traction within the U.S. Congress. This legislation mirrors Alaska’s Israel Anti-Discrimination Act (HB 2) in its objective to combat discrimination by imposing certification requirements on U.S. government contractors. The CHAI Act mandates contractors to certify that they neither engage in, nor plan to engage in a boycott of Israel throughout the duration of their government contracts.
Remarkably, this principle has already been adopted by 36 states, underlining the urgency to stand against discriminatory practices. Moreover, such legislation has stood the test of legal scrutiny, having been upheld by the courts, reinforcing the necessity and validity of this crucial step toward justice and equality. Alaska’s support for these initiatives amplifies the collective voice of the nation, demonstrating a united front against discrimination and prejudice.
To meaningfully support Israel and combat discrimination, we must rally together and champion the adoption of the Israel Anti-Discrimination Act (HB 2). This is a fervent call to action for Alaskans to reach out to their legislators, urging them to support and pass this critical legislation during this coming session. Let us demonstrate that we are not helpless in our support of Israel; we have the power to actively contribute to halting discriminatory actions perpetuated by the BDS movement. Together, we can make a resounding difference, standing up for what is right and just, upholding the values of democracy and equality that we hold dear.
Rep. Sarah Vance represents the southern Kenai peninsula in the Alaska Legislature.