On Monday morning, workers who rolled into Elbit Systems in Merrimack were greeted by flag-waving members of their local House delegation as GOP state reps showed their support for the company and its employees.
One week after anti-Israel protesters attacked the Elbit Systems facility, Merrimack GOP Reps. Bob Healey, Tim McGough, Maureen Mooney, and Jeanine Notter held U.S. flags and a sign reading “We Welcome You” at the entrance.
“Thank you to Elbit Systems employees for what they do in defense and health industries,” Healey said. “It is a shame that this attack on your place of work was planned to terrorize you and inflict damage on your building.”
Notter showed her support for Israel with her wardrobe as well, dressing in the blue and white colors of the Israeli flag.
“Elbit America is an important part of our community, and the work done in our town is important for our armed services and for the healthcare sector nationwide and beyond. The hundreds of Elbit America employees in Merrimack have my unwavering support,” Notter said.
And while the attendees were all Republican, Notter told NHJournal the effort wasn’t partisan. Merrimack has three Democrats, Reps. Nancy Murphy, Rosemarie Rung and Wendy Thomas, in the House. “We invited them, but they chose not to come,” Notter said.
Republican Rep. Bill Boyd (R-Merrimack) was also a no-show.
However, the local reps were joined by Merrimack Town Councilor Barbara Healey (married to Rep. Healey), Manchester Rep. Ross Berry, and GOP candidate for governor Kelly Ayotte.
Ayotte had previously visited the Elbit facility during her time as a U.S. senator. “I served on the Armed Services Committee, and American troops also benefit from the work they do,” she said. Asked about the pro-Palestinian protesters who broke windows and climbed to the facility’s roof, Ayotte called it “troubling.”
“It’s really troubling to see the progressive left seize on this movement of criminal anarchy, one that is also antisemitic. People of goodwill need to let our Jewish neighbors know — let Israel know — that we stand with them,” Ayotte said.
After greeting the employees for an hour, the legislators and their supporters were given a brief tour inside the Elbit facility, where broken windows and red paint from the vandalism were still in evidence.
“We had a lot of broken glass, we had to have some mechanical repairs, HVAC, things like that,” said Andy Chiango, Elbit USA’s vice president of Merrimack operations. Asked about the reaction to the incident, Chiango said it was “mostly words of support, particularly from state and local government officials.
“Of course, there are some sympathizers [with the protesters], but they tend to be voices from the fringe,” Chiango said.
While just three people were arrested in the incident, he estimated that 20 to 25 participated in the protest.
The three people arrested were from Connecticut and Massachusetts. One of them, Calla Walsh of Cambridge, Mass., has close ties to the Massachusetts Democratic Party and U.S. Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren. Walsh also helped create the Boston Mapping Project, which tracked the location of Jewish organizations, identifying them as the “Zionist NGO Circuit.”
McGough, whose work in the medical device industry puts him in regular contact with people in Israel, said his counterparts in Haifa were aware of the attack and “shocked” by it.
“Everyone in Israel knows Elbit,” McGough said.
He wants the New Hampshire House to act, perhaps with a resolution of support for Israel in its effort to “eliminate Hamas” or a public statement urging the federal delegation to remain strong in supporting the Jewish state.
Berry said it was unlikely anything could happen soon, given the House calendar. But he said one lesson the state should learn from the damage done by the protesters is that New Hampshire needs tougher laws protecting people and property from actions like these.
“I’m not sure the state’s ‘riot’ laws are a good fit for this, which is one of the things they were charged with. I believe we need laws that include a financial penalty for doing property damage like this or for shutting down businesses. A company like this losing a day of productivity could cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Sitting in jail won’t stop these activists,” Berry said. “But if they know they’re going to have to pay for all the financial damage they’ve done, that might make them think twice.”
Berry and McGough also mentioned the anti-BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) legislation that failed to make it through the House earlier this year. “Maybe we should try that again.”
Ayotte said Granite Staters need to act.
“It’s important that we stand against hate. When we see it, we stand up against it,” Ayotte said. And she took the fact that the protesters weren’t local as a positive sign for the state’s politics.
“The people from New Hampshire are good people. That’s why they had to bring protesters in from out of state.”