Even though the war between Israel and Hamas is half a world away, it has managed to be one of the biggest hot-button issues moving into North Carolina’s 2024 elections.

For example, Mark Robinson’s rivals in the gubernatorial race, both Republicans and Democrats, have pointed to past comments he made on social media to suggest he isn’t a true friend of Israel, despite his recent trip to the Holy Land. A Republican rival, Bill Graham, just released a campaign video saying as much.

But this week, NC received a much more poignant reminder of why this story has defined much of the news cycle and debate. The families of Israeli hostages, who are still being held more than 100 days after being kidnapped during the Oct. 7 attacks, came to North Carolina to plead for help. The families appeared at a press conference at the legislature organized by NC House Speaker Tim Moore, who is also running for US Congress.

“This today is not about geopolitics or anything like that,” said Moore. “This is about really getting the word out about these families and these hostages who need to be released.”

And many of them had heart-breaking stories about how their loved ones are being treated and how much they mean to them.

The families also met with Gov. Roy Cooper down the street at the Governor’s Mansion.

While he heard the families out and said we should “Bring them home,” he also sent out a very different statement five minutes before decrying the “staggering loss of Palestinian lives” and saying he prays “for an end to the loss of innocent lives and the ongoing violence.”

While all loss of civilian life in war is tragic, these two statements send very different messages. There was no mention of the loss of life that occurred in Israel or the fact that much of the loss of Palestinian life is due to Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields. A reading of the statement might lead one to believe Israel is cruelly attacking an innocent nation. This is a slap in the face to the Israeli families he was meeting with at that very moment.

Mr. Governor, if you care about the Israeli civilians that were raped and killed on Oct. 7 and those that are still being held hostage, and especially if you want those hostages to be brought home, you cannot call for an end to Israel’s military actions against Hamas in Gaza. The only real chance they have to be brought home is to defeat Hamas, which, sadly, means military action needs to continue until that’s accomplished.

Cooper was likely under great pressure to make this statement. Across the state and the nation, there is an effort by pro-Palestine activists to cause chaos — blocking roads, walking off their jobs, disrupting legislative business — until politicians call for a ceasefire.

Just this week in Raleigh, hundreds of activists signed up to speak at a Raleigh City Council meeting. They planned on derailing the normal agenda to talk about a conflict thousands of miles away that they clearly don’t understand. There was a ceasefire, which ended Oct. 7. It was Hamas who violated it and continues to violate it by shooting rockets at civilian areas and by holding innocent civilians, like the loved ones of those who visited Jones and Blount streets.

The activists’ strategy seems to be to get city councils across the country to demand a ceasefire resolution until there’s a critical mass. Then their international partners can report to the media, human rights groups, and maybe the United Nations, that after a groundswell of popular support, X% of American cities called for Israel to cease its operations in Gaza.

But a true ceasefire is not up to Israel. It’s up to the Palestinians and the surrounding Arab nations to live at peace with Israel. In each of the devastating wars Palestinians have experienced, including the current one, the hostilities were instigated by their own side.

So, maybe city councils and county commissions across North Carolina should instead call for a different ceasefire resolution — one that demands Hamas renounce terrorism, that demands they return all hostages now, that demands the Palestinian people stop directing the bulk of their resources towards destroying the Jewish state and instead direct them towards building a just and peaceful culture that can live side by side with their neighbors.

I’m sure such a resolution would pass unanimously in quite a few towns across the state, and without the need for pressure from angry mobs.