My views of Israel are informed by my study of International Relations in college, my faith, strategic U.S. interests, shared values of our countries and, most recently, by my visit to Israel. In 2015, I traveled to Israel with my family and several friends through the American Renewal Project.
Our trip was particularly enjoyable because I had my then 14 year-old son with me, and we were able see many Bible stories come alive based on our visits to Capernaum, Caesarea Philippi, the Golan Heights, Caesarea, Nazareth, the Valley of Meggido, the Dead Sea, Masada, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and Yad Vashem, that received considerable funding from my close Orange County friend, Yossie Hollander.
Because of our visit, we were able to better appreciate the cultural, geographical, spiritual, religious, political, economic diversity and military challenges that face Israel.
The most sobering moment was looking down on Syria from the Golan Heights and watching bombs exploding. It made us realized the dangers that face Israelis every day. Looking back, it brings to life the current conflict where Hamas triggered a war on October 7, 2023 with a sneak attack that killed over 1,400 Israeli citizens in a most cowardly and barbaric fashion.
There is only one immediate solution to this conflict – the eradication of Hamas and America must do all in its power to help Israel accomplish this important mission. If not, Hamas will be back. Hamas will be back terrorizing Israelis and even bringing their terror to the United States.
We know Hamas will be back as October 7, 2023 is another installment of terror following the attacks earlier this year when Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad shot around 4,000 rockets into Israel. Israel protecting Israeli citizens with the critically important Iron Dome, and utilizing the David’s Sling - second layer of the joint missile defense infrastructure, and the Arrow systems - all jointly developed and funded by the US & Israel – must remain a U.S. priority.
The relationship between the United State and Israel cannot ever be taken for granted. It must be nurtured, financed and protected at all costs. With that preface, I would like to highlight some specific thoughts:
1. Our countries share critical intelligence and military ties.
2. Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem was a courageous and correct outcome. A nation’s capital is its own sovereign choice. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem solidifies our ties to Israel.
3. Making progress on achieving peace in the Middle East with the signing of the Abraham Accords was a great outcome. United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan recognizing the state of Israel is significant progress.
4. Sending U.S. aid to Israel is efficient and effective foreign aid. U.S. aid to Israel is mutually beneficial because it helps drive the U.S. economy, and most of the money sent to Israel for military aid is spent with defense companies in the United States. And, I oppose adding new restrictions to this aid.
5. The U.S. partnership with Israel benefits immeasurably because of Israel’s development of cybersecurity, healthcare, AI, innovations in water management and food security.
6. With respect to Iran, the U.S. policy must be to ensure that Iran never acquires nuclear weapons capability. The U.S. must use whatever tools it has available, including economic sanctions to end Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.
7. Support full security assistance to Israel, including the $3.3 billion for fiscal year 2023-2024, as agreed to in the 2016 10-year U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding (MOU);
8. Oppose Iran’s ballistic missile program and its malign regional activities, including its support of terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas;
9. Promote direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians to achieve a two-state agreement resulting in a Jewish state of Israel living in peace and security with a demilitarized Palestinian state. However, any aid given to the Palestinian Authority must be in compliance with the Taylor Force Act.
10. Support normalization between Israel and Arab states by building on the recent agreements reached between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, and encouraging other nations to follow suit;
11. Back critical funding for U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation and enhance strategic cooperation to help both countries combat growing threats and develop emerging technologies;
12. Ensure Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME)—the ability of Israel to defend itself by itself against regional threats;
13. Support a robust foreign aid budget as a key component of American foreign policy;
14. Boost civilian cooperation with Israel in numerous areas including homeland security, energy, healthcare, environment and trade; and;
15. Counter efforts to isolate and delegitimize Israel, including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel as well as anti-Israel efforts at international forums like the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC). I also support the UN Commission of Inquiry Elimination Act.
16. I do not believe we should be adding political conditions to the security assistance Israel receives as advocated by Rep. McCollum.
In short, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel is a relationship that must be maintained at all costs. A compromised Israel is a compromised U.S.
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