News & Politics

Goldman and Nadler call for temporary ceasefire in Gaza

The two New York representatives joined 11 other Democrats in asking President Joe Biden to pursue an agreement between Israel and Hamas.

Reps. Jerry Nadler and Dan Goldman

Reps. Jerry Nadler and Dan Goldman Rob Kim/Getty Images for The Recording Academy; Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Reps. Dan Goldman and Jerry Nadler joined with 11 other Jewish Democratic members of Congress to send a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to “exhaust every effort to facilitate a mutual, temporary ceasefire agreement” between Israel and Hamas.

Both Nadler – the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and most senior Jewish member of Congress – and Goldman have been outspoken supporters of Israel’s war in Gaza.

Their letter, which was co-written by Goldman and Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, calls for a temporary ceasefire that will “return all of the hostages to their families; stop the violence in Gaza and rocket fire on Israel from Gaza; and end the tremendous civilian suffering in Gaza by enabling a massive surge in humanitarian aid.”

Temporary vs. permanent

In an interview with City & State, Goldman took pains to distinguish his call for a temporary ceasefire from progressives’ calls for a permanent ceasefire. Whereas Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman have called for a permanent ceasefire that would end the conflict, Goldman only wants temporary ceasefire – similar to the brief “humanitarian pause” in November – to allow for all the Israeli hostages to be released and for humanitarian aid to get into Gaza.

“The idea of this letter is to provide additional support from Jewish members of Congress to the administration to give them more encouragement to facilitate an agreement that gets the hostages out of Gaza,” Goldman said. “And we recognize the only way for that to happen will be another temporary ceasefire.”

Goldman specifically criticized House Resolution 786, which simply calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. Ocasio-Cortez, Bowman and other members of “the Squad” have signed onto that resolution, which is sponsored by Rep. Cori Bush.

“That resolution is essentially demanding unilateral disarmament by Israel, which doesn't say anything about releasing the hostages, doesn't say anything about Hamas and the horrific terrorist attack that they executed on October 7…does not require Hamas to surrender or otherwise be neutralized and removed from control,” he said.

In December, Goldman said that he would only support a ceasefire if it included the surrender of Hamas and the group’s removal from power in Gaza. He has since modified his position slightly; he is now willing to support a temporary ceasefire even if Hamas does not surrender, solely for the purpose of getting the hostages out. But he still believes that any permanent ceasefire that will end the conflict must include Hamas’ surrender.

“There can be no permanent ceasefire with Hamas still in control of Gaza. And so what we are calling for is just a temporary pause for hostage relief and humanitarian purposes, and then a more permanent solution will have to be reached later,” he said. “Certainly we would hope that there could be a solution that flows from this that does not include any more military action. But that depends on whether Hamas is willing to surrender.”

Nadler holds the same position.

“Since Hamas’ brutal October 7 attack against Israel, I have been unrelenting in my support for Israel’s right to defend itself and call for the immediate, safe return of all hostages being held in Gaza,” he said in a statement. “At the same time, I am devastated by the mass suffering facing innocent Palestinian civilians, who desperately require humanitarian aid as they experience widespread hunger, homelessness, and a lack of medical care. A two-state solution and lasting peace is simply not possible while Hamas remains in power in Gaza. With this in mind, I believe that a mutually agreed, temporary ceasefire agreement that alleviates the suffering and brings home those languishing in captivity is the best way forward. President Biden has been a strong leader pushing back against Prime Minister Netanyahu, and he should redouble his efforts to make a ceasefire agreement possible.”

Both Goldman and Nadler have been subject to protests from progressive activists upset with their refusal to call for a ceasefire. On several occasions, Goldman’s district office in Brooklyn was even graffitied with pro-Palestine slogans. Goldman has characterized some of the protests as antisemitic, though many have been organized by leftist Jewish groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.

Goldman said that the protests did not contribute to his decision to call for a temporary ceasefire. “Nothing that they've done or advocated for or in any way vandalized, my office has had any impact on my policy views towards Israel.”

NY-10 Neighbors, one of the pro-ceasefire groups that has organized protests outside of Goldman’s office, said that it will continue to press Goldman to support a permanent ceasefire.

“After 139 days of devastation, with nearly 30,000 Palestinians killed and 1.4 million displaced, Congressman Dan Goldman today finally called for a ‘temporary ceasefire.’ This marks the first instance of Rep. Goldman formally calling for any kind of ceasefire. While undoubtedly a step forward and a testament to the power and impact of organizing by his constituents, Rep. Goldman’s words are too little and come far too late,” the group said in a statement.

“The time is now”

Goldman’s decision to call for a ceasefire, even a temporary and conditional one, could indicate that even Democrats who support Israel are losing patience. Nearly 30,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel invaded Gaza, and the Israeli military is now on the verge of launching a ground invasion of Rafah – the last (relatively) safe area in Gaza, home to 1.4 million displaced Palestinians who have nowhere else to go. 

Israel has said that it will invade Rafah unless the hostages are released by March 10, the start of Ramadan. The United Nations has warned that an invasion of Rafah could “lead to slaughter.” Goldman said that it is essential that a temporary ceasefire agreement be put in place before then. “The time is now. We cannot wait any longer for the hostages to be released. And it's imperative that it happens in the next week or two and certainly before Ramadan starts on March 10,” he said.

Goldman said that he continues to support Israel’s military offensive in Gaza but believes that military action alone will not be enough to free the hostages. 

“I think military action was and is part of the solution,” he said. “But I think it is clear that…a military operation to remove all of the hostages alive is unlikely to be successful. It's important to note that we're five months in, hostages are dying, and that every day they remain in horrific conditions in captivity under Hamas’ control raises the likelihood that additional hostages will die.”

Goldman acknowledged that any deal to release the Israeli hostages held by Hamas will likely need to include the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. While some hostages’ families have embraced the call of “everyone for everyone” – a release of all Israeli hostages and all Palestinian prisoners – Goldman said that Hamas “cannot maintain excessive and unreasonable demands for a disproportionate release of prisoners relative to the hostages.”