Congressman Ritchie Torres (D-NY) held a town hall meeting with his constituents in the Bronx, NY on Thursday and was sharply questioned by a pro-Palestinian audience member.
In a video posted by Twitter user Chaskel Bennett, Torres is seen responding to a question from a town hall attendee.
The video does not show her asking the question, but based on Torres' answer, the question was presumably based on the idea that it would be morally incomprehensible to support Israel on the basis that it is carrying out genocide against the Palestinians.
The congressman responded, explaining that the Palestinian population has grown significantly in the last several decades; if Israel had been stimying the population through genocide, it would not have grown so much.
Video: A pro-Palestinian mob hijacked the local town hall of Congressman Ritchie Torres in the Bronx; watch his response.....@RitchieTorres @RepRitchie pic.twitter.com/4sqNVHShWP— Chaskel Bennett (@ChaskelBennett) February 16, 2023
The woman in the audience was not satisfied with his answer and continued to interrupt him as he answered her question. She asked about the Iron Dome, and he explained that it is a defensive measure, not an offensive one. Torres proclaimed that he is proud to support infrastructure that protects civilians from rocket fire. This statement elicited applause from most of those gathered at the meeting.
Ritchie Torres' support for the State of Israel
Torres has become synonymous with the fight against antisemitism and support for the State of Israel. He is vice chair of the Homeland Security Committee and serves on the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection & Innovation.
"Antisemitism has no place," he wrote on Twitter when retweeting a tweet from The Associated Press about Adidas announcing the end of its partnership with West in October. "The purveyors of antisemitism, like Kanye West, must be held accountable in the marketplace."
Antisemitism has no place.The purveyors of Antisemitism, like Kanye West, must be held accountable in the marketplace. https://t.co/zyb2ryFXZU— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) October 25, 2022
When he was first elected in 2020, Torres told the New York Post in an interview that he had no intention of joining the "Squad," consisting of congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib. These four have been critical of Israel and supportive of BDS and even made allegedly antisemitic comments on occasion.
During the interview with the New York Post, Torres noted that BDS as a movement unfairly targets and singles out Israel, making it a form of discrimination, while also touching on his personal connection to the country through trips to Israel in 2015 and 2017.
He visited Israel again in the fall of 2022, during which time he visited Yad Vashem. He also came out strongly against Kanye West after the rapper began spreading antisemitic conspiracies online.
Kanye: The problem is that you’re not thinking. You’re hating. I just came from Yad Vashem, a place that you should visit. You need to understand that Antisemitism is one of the most dangerous and deadliest forms of hate the human heart has ever conceived. pic.twitter.com/BJeXi3xGgE— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) November 4, 2022
Felice Friedson/The Media Line and Cody Levine contributed to this report.