Beaverton city councilor questions whether Hamas attack happened as tensions run high
The ongoing Middle Eastern conflict has highlighted a deep divide among Democrats in Oregon and elsewhere
A police officer walks near a police station that was destroyed after a battle between Israeli troops and Hamas militants that took over the station on Oct. 8, 2023 in Sderot, Israel. The battle came a day after Hamas launched the largest surprise attack from Gaza in a generation, sending thousands of missiles and an unknown number of fighters by land, who shot and kidnapped Israelis in communities near the Gaza border. (Amir Levy/Getty Images)
An elected city councilor in one of Oregon’s largest cities publicly questioned Monday whether the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel actually happened as tensions around the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict remain high.
Beaverton City Councilor Nadia Hasan’s Instagram posts came days after the Democratic Party of Oregon canceled a state central committee meeting scheduled to take place in Beaverton this weekend because of concerns about protests and hours before Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, became the first member of the state’s congressional delegation to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.
The war between Israel and Hamas has highlighted a deep divide within the Democratic Party in Oregon and nationally, with some progressives claiming Israel was responsible for the Oct. 7 attack and failing to condemn Hamas. Other liberals have raised alarms about antisemitism from left-wing protesters.
Hasan, elected in 2020, has used her Instagram Stories – photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours – to post links to information about the Israel-Hamas conflict and local protests. On Monday morning, she used a story to share a post from Saira Rao, a political activist who runs an organization that charges white women thousands of dollars to discuss racism over dinner.
Rao’s original Instagram post, captioned “Israeli and American lies are coming out!!”, collected selectively cropped screenshots of news articles about the ongoing conflict. Hasan shared one slide with a screenshot from an Oct. 13 article from The Times of London.
In the paragraphs Rao selected, a survivor of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on the Kfar Aza kibbutz describes sheltering with her two children in a safe room and holding the door shut when she heard people speaking in Arabic in her home. The men entered the safe room, she protested that she had two children with her, and the man in charge told her he wouldn’t hurt her. The mother hypothesized that she was spared because the men were looking for soldiers.
Rao shared that clipping as proof that Hamas was just looking to attack soldiers – but her screenshot cut off before a second quote from the survivor.
“Me and my family survived. My friends and my friends’ kids didn’t. They were butchered. We were left alone, nobody protected us,” the article continued.
Hasan, who is Muslim with parents from India and Pakistan, did not respond to a voicemail or text message from the Capital Chronicle. She posted to Instagram that there were “different versions” of what happened on Oct. 7 and more fact-checking was needed.
“I’m very hesitant to share/amplify things without fact checking but I still feel like there’s different versions of what happened on 10/7 and if that’s true, there needs to be an immediate deescalation to find out what happened and decide a course of action,” she wrote on Instagram. “When kids in high school fight, we take the time to investigate, deescalate and understand the truth before letting things get extra. With the death of 10,000 plus (people), we should really have a clear understanding of what happened.”
Her post earned condemnation from some, including state Rep. Emerson Levy, a Bend Democrat who has used her platform to advocate for the release of hostages taken by Hamas.
“It’s okay to have a healthy dialogue about foreign policy. It’s not okay to engage in conspiracy theories,” Levy tweeted in response to Hasan’s posts. “Ella (8) and Dafna (15) are still not home. They were kidnapped on 10/7. Their dad was murdered along with their stepmom and brother.”
Hasan and fellow Beaverton City Councilor Kevin Teater participated in a protest calling for a ceasefire outside Democratic U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici’s district office in Beaverton earlier this month, the Beaverton Valley Times reported. A pro-Palestine protest was planned for outside a quarterly Democratic Party of Oregon meeting at the Beaverton Elks Lodge on Saturday, but the party canceled its meeting over safety concerns.
Another Washington County Democrat, state Rep. Farrah Chaichi of Beaverton, was condemned by the Oregon Republican Party earlier this month for a statement calling for a ceasefire in Gaza while accusing Israel of executing an “ethnic cleansing” and failing to condemn the Hamas attack.
Last week, the Washington County Democrats passed a resolution condemning antisemitic and Islamophobic behavior. Party chair Martita Meier said at the time it was important to show support to local residents who were being targeted because of the war in the Middle East.
“We want to make sure that all Jewish people and all Muslim people feel safe and welcome here in Washington County,” she said. “It should not be the burden of these communities to be harassed because of what goes on on the other side of the world. So many of them already suffer knowing that they have friends and family abroad who are directly affected by these tragic events.”
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