A group of 13 Democratic legislators have publicly condemned a Jewish colleague who spoke out forcefully against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at a press conference Wednesday.
“We have seen in recent weeks how poisonous Gaza has become for Israel,” Sen. Ron Latz, a Democrat from St. Louis Park, said ahead of a Wednesday meeting of the Minnesota State Board of Investment where protesters called on the state to “divest from its investments in Israel and weapons manufacturers.”
Latz held a joint press conference with the Jewish Community Relations Council condemning the BDS movement as one that “seeks to dismantle Israel and end the right of Jewish self-determination.”
“Now, Palestinian children are taught at United Nations UNRWA schools that Jews should be killed,” Latz said. “They attend summer camps that teach young kids how to be terrorists. They play ‘kill the Jew’ on the streets of Gaza. Children’s television shows glorify the killing of Jews and UNRWA-run elementary school playground toys are plastic AK-47s.”
“Palestinian youth dream of the opportunity to achieve glory and even martyrdom by killing as many Jews as possible.”
Minnesota Democratic Senator Ron Latz is facing criticism from members of his party for stating at a press conference Wednesday: "Palestinian youth dream of the opportunity to achieve glory and even martyrdom by killing as many Jews as possible." pic.twitter.com/oTkyqFCHBt
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) November 30, 2023
This last remark was highlighted by a group of Latz’s Democratic colleagues in a statement Thursday, who said Latz recited a “litany of hateful, prejudicial and demonstrably false claims.”
“Through his language, Senator Latz assigned nefarious motives to Palestinian children, describing them all as aspiring murderers. His remarks were irresponsible and dangerous,” they said. “This type of language has no place in our public discourse, much less from a member of the Minnesota Senate.”
— Erin Maye Quade (@ErinMayeQuade) November 30, 2023
The statement was signed by DFL Sens. Zaynab Mohamed, Jen McEwen, Erin Maye Quade, Lindsey Port, Judy Seeberger, Heather Gustafson, Liz Boldon, Erin Murphy, Omar Fateh, Mary Kunesh, John Marty, Nicole Mitchell, and Susan Pha.
Latz said his colleagues were taking his remarks out of context and his full speech makes clear that he was not referring to all Palestinian youth but “rather the Gazans who are taught at Hamas controlled UNRWA schools that Jews should be killed.”
— Ron Latz (@SenRonLatz) November 30, 2023
The ideological divide within the DFL Party became clear shortly after Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel. A local socialist organization that has endorsed several elected Democrats faced widespread criticism at that time for its comments on the attack, including from a group of Jewish Democrats and the chair of the party.