Two lawmakers have proposed a resolution affirming Oklahoma’s support of Israel.

Authored by Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, and Rep. Mark Lepak, R-Claremore, the resolution condemns “the atrocities of the terrorist organization Hamas” and “reaffirms Oklahoman and American support for the State of Israel in their fight to eradicate Hamas.” The resolution also calls on state law enforcement agencies to “remain vigilant in protecting Israeli Americans, Jewish Americans, and all supporters of Israel from crime and discrimination that tend to manifest at such times.”

The resolution won’t be considered for adoption until the state Legislature convenes in February, but it has already drawn both support and criticism from some Oklahoma organizations.

Rachel Johnson, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City, said the resolution is timely and meaningful to the Jewish community, particularly after the Hamas attack on Israel in October.

“With the rise of antisemitism since Oct. 7, it helps to have the support throughout the community-at-large,” she said Tuesday. “For this to come out really shows support for us.”

In an Oklahoma Senate news release, Johnson said Israel’s survival as the only Jewish state, in its historic ancestral homeland, is non-negotiable and Israel has a right to defend itself from hostile neighbors.

Move called ‘a slap in the face’

By contrast, a Muslim advocacy group denounced the resolution as “one-sided” for what it described as a failure to address the plight of Palestinians in Gaza as the Israel-Hamas war rages on.

The Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ leaders said the resolution doesn’t address Oklahomans of Palestinian descent who have lost loved ones in the last three months and “only further perpetuates Islamophobic stereotypes.”

“It’s a slap in the face, it’s hurtful, it’s offensive,” said Adam Soltani, CAIR-OK executive director.

He said such a resolution should reflect the diversity of the constituents of Oklahoma’s elected officials and, while the state has a “vibrant and beautiful” Jewish community, it also has Muslims, as well.

“In my professional opinion as somebody who has been embedded in community work for more than a decade, and at the helm of CAIR-OK this long, by putting out statements that are one-sided and supportive of only one of the impacted communities in this ongoing conflict only seeks to perpetuate not just Islamophobia, but even antisemitism,” Soltani said.

Oklahoma has longtime support of Israel

Daniels defended the resolution, pointing out the inclusion of statements condemning Hamas for attacking and killing civilians in its Oct. 7 attack against Israel, but also its penchant for locating elements of its “terrorist infrastructure” in civilian population centers using civilians as human shields.

She said the resolution also speaks to Israel’s right to pursue the elimination of Hamas and by doing so instilling public safety not only for Israel and the people who live there but also people living in the region.

“So, I did not discount the toll that wars take on civilian populations, whether or not you are living in the area that mounted the offensive or living in an area that has taken a defensive posture,” Daniels said.

The legislator also said the resolution is in keeping with Oklahoma’s longtime support of Israel. She said the state Legislature passed legislation in 2020, House Bill 3967 that specifies that the state will not enter into contracts with companies advocating for the boycott, divestment or sanction of Israel unless a company is explicitly exempted by Oklahoma’s secretary of state. She also said the Legislature adopted a resolution condemning the 2021 Hamas attack on Israel on Jerusalem Day. Daniels said in light of these previous affirmations of support and the recent Hamas attack, she felt a resolution was warranted.

“What happened on Oct. 7 was so purely evil that Rep. Lepac and I were immediately motivated to file this resolution,” she said.

Johnson also spoke about the connection between Israel and Oklahoma, calling them strategtic partners “and this resolution further solidifies our relationship.”

Meanwhile, if the Oklahoma Legislature adopts the resolution, it won’t be alone. Daniels and Lepak are state legislative chairs for the American Legislative Exchange Council and Daniels serves on the board. Other state Legislatures have already adopted the resolution, which was drafted by the council’s federalism and international relations task force.