‘Struggling with hope’: Israeli hostage families urge Texas support


AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Dalia Cusnir and Moshe Lavi haven’t seen their loved ones in 127 days.

Cusnir’s brothers-in-law were stripped from their beds in the early morning of Oct. 7, she said, dragged barefoot by Hamas terrorists into Gaza. Lavi’s brother-in-law was taken as his two-year-old daughter ran after him.

“A big and long nightmare,” Cusnir described it. Hamas’ October attack, which killed 1,200 Israelis and took 240 people hostage, has shattered her sense of safety and left their family broken.

“We’re struggling with the hope that we’ll see them very, very soon,” she said. “And the other side is knowing that they’re underneath the the earth in tunnels with no food and with lots of violence. We just don’t know what’s going on with them.”

As hundreds of Israelis struggle to hold onto the hope of a homecoming for about 100 remaining hostages, Cusnir and Lavi visited Texas late last month to rally support and meet with state lawmakers.

“Texas is a friend to Israel. Texas will be here for Israel and anything that we can do to provide for those families,” Texas Secretary of State Jane Nelson told Nexstar. “I can’t imagine what they’re going through. So, anything we can provide, even I personally would be happy to provide just emotional support. I have children. I have family, and I can’t imagine what they’re going through right now.”

Numerous state officials have supported Israel’s war efforts since the attack. Gov. Greg Abbott traveled to Israel and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November, and the state has used tax dollars to buy Israeli bonds. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick used campaign contributions to buy $3 million in Israeli bonds.

But in Washington, federal lawmakers struggle to strike a deal that would send Israel more aid. Families of the hostages urge them to separate their plight from politics.

“Our message as families is that they need to put the issue of the hostages above the toxic political discourse,” Lavi said. “For us, this is a humanitarian issue. It’s a multifaith issue because hostages of different faiths, not only Jews, are held hostage by Hamas… including Americans.”

Before visiting Austin, Cusnir spoke to Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, echoing that same message.

“I don’t want the world to forget,” Cusnir said. “I want the world to understand that today it’s us, but tomorrow it might be them.”