Sen. Latz Remarks Called ‘Inflammatory’ By Colleagues, ‘Demonstrably True’ By JCRC

State Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) is being criticized for part of his remarks at a press conference on Wednesday by more than a dozen DFL colleagues. 

In the press conference that Latz arranged with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas to call attention to the effort by the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement to divest state funds from Israel, Latz said: “Palestinian youth dream of the opportunity to achieve glory and even martyrdom by killing as many Jews as possible. Is it any wonder that these same children grow up and call their parents after slaughtering innocent concert-goers in a desert to brag about killing 10 Jews saying ‘Mama aren’t you proud of me?’ Who use rape as a weapon of war? Who gleefully paraded the naked body of a desecrated captive Jewish woman through the streets of Gaza, while the Gaza crowds cheered and spit on the body? We know all this from their own recordings.”

The letter signed by DFL state senators Zaynab Mohamed, Jen McEwen, Erin Maye Quade, Lindsey Port, Judy Seeberger, Heather Gustafson, Erin Murphy, Omar Fateh, Mary Kunesh, John Marty, Nicole Mitchell, and Susan Pha, criticized Latz for using “dehumanizing, inflammatory, language, and rhetoric in his remarks about Palestinians. He recited a litany of hateful, prejudicial and demonstrably, false claims, describing Gaza, as poisonous and asserting, that Palestinian youth dream of the opportunity to achieve glory, and even martyrdom by killing as many Jews as possible.”

In a statement posted to social media on Thursday afternoon, Latz said it was “unfortunate” that his colleagues are attacking his speech “by taking one sentence of my remarks out of context.”

“The six sentences proceeding the one they are criticizing make it clear that I am not referring to all Palestinian youth, but rather the Gazans who are taught at Hamas-controlled UNRWA schools that Jews should be killed, who attend summer camps the teach young kids how to be terrorists, who play ‘kill the Jew,’ on the streets of Gaza, who watched children’s TV shows that glorify the killing of Jews, and who play on UNRWA elementary school playgrounds with plastic AK-47s,” Latz’s statement read.

Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the JCRC, said that many of Latz’s claims were “demonstrably true.” The JCRC cited several examples of UNRWA schools teaching a Hamas-written curriculum, videos of children who seek martyrdom, students chanting for the death of Jews, and children congratulating relatives for martyrdom.

Hunegs said that other claims Latz made were reported widely to have happened, including: A Hamas video from a kibbutz showing terrorists torturing a pregnant woman and removing her fetus, and that Israeli forensic scientists have found bodies of women and girls raped with such violence that their pelvic bones were broken.

“We agree with Sen. Latz’s colleagues that ‘we must be able to have difficult conversations while maintaining respect for the humanity of everyone,’” Hunegs statement said. “Essential to such conversations is the acknowledgment that the atrocities committed by Hamas are evil and without justification.”