Statehouse spotlights to support Israel ‘moving on’

By: - October 18, 2023 7:00 am

Blue and white spotlights, the colors of the Israel flag, illuminate the night sky at the Indiana Statehouse on Oct. 16, 2023. (Courtesy of Zach Myers at FOX59/CBS4)

A dozen spotlights illuminating the night sky around downtown Indianapolis in the colors of the Israel flag will ‘move on’ from the Statehouse, a rare and possibly first-of-its-kind display that appeared Monday morning.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the spotlights and the Israeli flag over the Governor’s Residence in Indianapolis “symbolize our state solidarity … with our friends and allies in Israel.”

On Tuesday, he said the symbols also paid tribute to the Israeli victims of the Hamas invasion earlier this month and the spotlights “are moving on to a different location.”

“We’ll look for other ways to assist but that was a good couple of days (of) paying tribute,” Holcomb said.

A spokesperson for Holcomb’s office said the display would be dismantled Tuesday evening and said they “didn’t have an anticipated cost.”

The office didn’t immediately respond to an email asking if the lights were donated or paid through another entity.

Holcomb said a number of people had called for the show of support, including Attorney General Todd Rokita, but his actions also included discussions with Israeli leaders and other state executives.

“I just had six governors in the State of Indiana over the last couple of days and, of course, we talked about this war,” Holcomb said. “… we’ll work with folks who are advocating in a number of ways to pay tribute to victims.”

Other governors, from Maryland and South Carolina, have similarly lit up their state buildings or residences in blue and white.

Rokita sent a letter to the governor’s office last week noting that the Israeli Embassy has asked states to illuminate their Capitol buildings in blue and white.

“Lighting the Indiana State Capitol would not only be a meaningful gesture to our Jewish community in Indiana, but it would send a powerful message of unwavering support to our friends in the Middle East,” he wrote in a letter posted on X.

Holcomb didn’t expound upon the precedent for the spotlights, which hasn’t occurred in recent history during other global conflicts or major events.

“It won’t be a precedent until I decide to do it again,” Holcomb said.

Shortly after the attacks, Holcomb recognized the death of Israeli mayor Ofir Libstein of Sha’ar HaNegev regional council, who visited Holcomb in August. According to the post, Libstein died while exchanging gunfire with infiltrators.

Hamas, a terrorist organization, led a three-pronged attack on Oct. 7 by air, land and sea, kidnapping at least 150 civilians in an assault that killed more than 1,400 people, according to the Associated Press.

An Israeli retaliation has killed more than 2,700 Palestinians, many of whom were trapped in Gaza after Israel cut off water, power and fuel. The Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt, the only escape route for many trapped civilians, remains closed as Israeli bombings continue, blocking humanitarian aid.

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Whitney Downard
Whitney Downard

A native of upstate New York, Whitney previously covered statehouse politics for CNHI’s nine Indiana papers, focusing on long-term healthcare facilities and local government. Prior to her foray into Indiana politics, she worked as a general assignment reporter for The Meridian Star in Meridian, Mississippi. Whitney is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University (#GoBonnies!), a community theater enthusiast and cat mom.

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