A diplomat from Israel addressed Missouri lawmakers on Tuesday, talking in part about strengthening ties between Israel and the Show-Me State.
Maor Elbaz-Starinsky, Israeli Counsel General of Miami, said his country and Missouri are bound by moral ties, democratic values, and friendship that transcends time.
“Our aim is to fortify both political and economic ties and it’s noteworthy that Missouri boasts a vibrant Jewish community, further strengthening the cultural bond that binds us,” he said. “This collaboration stands as a testament to the enduring partnership between the state of Missouri and the State of Israel.”
His office focuses on building partnerships with Missouri, Kansas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. He also thanked Missouri lawmakers for passing bills in recent years condemning anti-Semitism and promoting holocaust remembrance in public school education. Elbaz-Starinsky also talked about the war between Israel and Hamas.
“Israel is committed to defending its citizens while actively pursuing peace,” he said. “The bitter reality of warfare is exemplified by the sacrifice, courage, and immense bravery displayed by the Israeli Defense Forces. Our soldiers are fighting for the entire free world.”
His speech was disrupted for about five minutes when pro-Palestinian protesters began shouting in the upper House chamber. As he called for the release of hostages being held by Hamas, the protesters began shouting “shame on you,” “shame on Missouri,” “murder,” and “cease-fire now,” according to multiple media outlets. Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe ordered the protesters removed, after which Elbaz-Starinsky resumed his speech.
“These terrorists will come after each and every one of you here in this chamber – after each and every one of us – because this is a war between evil and good, darkness and light,” he said. “And if somebody can’t tell which is which, they are part of the problem.”
One of the protesters, a 28-year-old woman, was arrested for trespassing after refusing to leave the Missouri House gallery. The Missouri Department of Public Safety said she has since been released.
You can listen to Elbaz-Starinsky’s speech here:
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