Derrick Van Orden, Republican US Congressman from Wisconsin, tells Arutz Sheva-Israel National News that he is delighted to be visiting Israel.
“It's great to be here. I wish it was under different circumstances. But I decided to come to Israel because of the situation. I was in the United States military for 26 years. I was a Navy seal and after I retired in 2014, I made a promise to the Jewish people that if something were to happen, like October 7th, that I would come to help Israel. So, I'm here to fulfill that promise.”
Van Orden claims that he “was never in politics. I had no idea I'd be a United States congressman when this happened, but that's irrelevant. So, I came here to fulfill a promise to the Jewish people and because of my position as US Congressman, I think I'll be able to be much more effective now.”
He has conducted multiple combat tours around the world but “we went to the kibbutz that was attacked, we went to the rave that was attacked, we spoke to people, and the stories that came out of that were the most horrific things I've heard in my entire life from all of my combat experience throughout the Middle East. I spoke to a grandpa who helped defend his grandchildren for 16 hours with one other Israeli. I spoke to another man whose two boys, they weren't even in the army, heard fighting. Their wives fought with them not to go, but they took pistols and they charged at the Hamas terrorists. Both of them were killed. And one of them was burnt so badly that they had to use DNA from his twin brother to identify his body. But that man was standing with a rifle in his hand.”
He emphasizes that he “would like the Jewish people to know two things: One, the United States of America, particularly the party that I'm affiliated with, the Republican Party, is standing strong with Israel, and we'll stand with Israel from the beginning to the end. Another thing that the Jewish people need to know is that now is the time for strength. And that they have the strength in the wherewithal, and they've proven this throughout their history, that they're going to get through this and it's going to be a very dark time for a while.
"People are going to have to do things that they never thought they'd have to. Children are going to be exposed to things that they should never have been exposed to. But unfortunately, due to the terrorist attacks, they're going to have to. And I have the full confidence in the Jewish people that they will stand and overcome this, these horrific events.”
Regarding the support of the Biden administration, Van Orden believes that the President’s words “were fantastic. The actions are proving to not be so. When he did the press conference with the Prime Minister and then he immediately vowed to give Hamas $100 million, and they say the Palestinian Authority, but we know that the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, so those are contradictory messages and we need to make sure that they speak with one single message and that's why it's important for people to know that if the Biden administration wavers, there's a group of politicians in the United States of America, I being one of them, that will always stand with Israel.”
Van Orden believes that the statements made by the UN Secretary General yesterday were not a surprise at all. “If you look at Israel, the size of Israel, how many UN resolutions have gone against Israel compared to the rest of the entire planet? So, the United Nations itself has proven repeatedly to be a body that is not friendly to Israel. That's just a fact. That's not a political statement. I would prefer that the Biden administration gives a very steady and consistent tone, meaning if they say you're going to support Israel, then support Israel and stop giving money to Hamas. You just can't, simply can't do those things.”
Van Orden tries to explain this to people back in America. “If the United States of America, let's say San Diego, was being attacked by a terrorist group that was being harbored by Mexico and the Prime Minister of Israel called the President of the United States and said, ‘Hey, look, you need to temper what you're doing there. Let's be careful. And by the way, I'm going to send the terrorist group $100 million,’ what would the American president's response be to the Prime Minister of Israel? And this is going to sound harsh. But we have to understand that when the Allies were fighting the Axis powers during World War 2, at no time did Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Winston Churchill say that they needed to rush humanitarian aid to Nazi Germany or to fascist Italy or to the Empire of Japan. People need to understand that this is war. And it is the most brutal form of warfare, again, that I have ever seen in my entire life. And I was in the service for 26 years with multiple combat tours.”
Regarding the hostage crisis Von Orden believes that this is a very difficult situation. “We just lost our daughter two months ago. Our oldest daughter died of cancer. And I want people to understand what I'm going to say, having just lost a child. The chances of recovering the hostages, all of the hostages, is bleak because these terrorists have fortified Gaza to a level where it's nearly impenetrable and if you're sending soldiers and sailors, marines, any of your groups in there, it's going to be very, very difficult to recover these hostages alive. And that truly breaks my heart because I know what it's like to lose a child. So, I want people to have hope, but I also want them to have realistic expectations.”
Von Orden got goosebumps when talking about the recruitment of the IDF reservists. “I think you called for 100,000 or so reservists and 350,000 reservists showed up. We made sandwiches for soldiers yesterday. It's a spontaneous group. We went and helped harvest olives. Actually, the kids were harvesting olives. I was looking at them harvesting olives. But you had a bunch of 18 year olds volunteering because the Palestinians aren’t coming over to conduct a harvest.
"So when you have tens of thousands and really hundreds of thousands of your citizens come together, it is a unique thing and that is unique to Israel and you should be proud of that. But I also want to say there's going to be some dark days ahead. But the Jewish people have shown throughout your entire history for millennia, that you're capable of coming through the most harsh, horrible circumstances and you come out better people.”
Looking right in the camera, Van Orden concluded by saying that “there are multiple people and there are tens of thousands and millions of Americans that are here to support you, and we will not waver. We will be with you from the beginning to the end because an attack on the Jewish people is an attack on the American people, and that's an attack on freedom, and that will not stand.”