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Standing strong with Israel

During the recent work period, I had the opportunity to travel to Israel with a group of my Congressional colleagues from both sides of the political aisle. The bipartisan support for Israel could not have come at a better time. Antisemitism has been on the rise over the past couple of years. According to Reuters, antisemitic attacks rose 13 percent in 2018, with the largest spikes occurring in the U.S. and western Europe. In America, the old scourge of antisemitism has reemerged on the Left in the form of virulent anti-Israel sentiment. Once relegated to the extremes of the political spectrum, anti-Israel proposals have even entered the halls of Congress. Take the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to convince local governments, businesses and universities to boycott Israel -the only democracy in the Middle East -while turning a blind eye to the horrific violence and human rights violations perpetrated by the other side. At the same time, Israel faces existential threats from many of its neighbors. Iran, Hamas, and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah all seek to wipe Israel off the map. Under President Obama, the dangerous Iran nuclear deal exacerbated this threat, giving the Iranian regime millions of dollars that it used to fund its terrorist proxies in Gaza and Lebanon. While in Israel, I saw firsthand just how real these threats are and how important the U.S.-Israel relationship is in keeping Israel safe. We toured the Iron Dome missile defense system – a lifesaving invention that came to life because of the close U.S.-Israel working relationship. Iran and Hamas are not the only threats facing Israel. As I stood in the Golan Heights on the border with Syria, I was reminded of the thousands of refugees that have fled Syria in search of freedom. Many of these refugees now live in West Virginia. The village right across the border is now a ghost town with only a few peacekeeping forces present. Without Israel helping to keep the peace in the volatile Middle East, the oppression in Syria would spread and countless lives would be lost.

Traveling in Israel and meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyau was also an opportunity to reflect on how much President Donald Trump’s steadfast support for Israel matters. After decades of inaction, President Trump fulfilled his pledge to recognize Jerusalem as the rightful capital of Israel and sent a message to the world that the U.S.-Israel relationship will not be subject to international meddling. Standing at the grounds of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, we felt a kinship that went beyond party. Support for Israel has long been a bipartisan cause, and it’s critical that Congress maintain that tradition. Despite opposition from some far-left radicals in Congress, Republicans successfully added language to two separate bills to reaffirm support for Israel. We’ve had several opportunities to do so this year. On Feb. 13, the House unanimously added language to a resolution on Yemen to defend and support Israel. The unprecedented motion stated: It is in the national interests of the United States to combat anti-Semitism at home and abroad. With an unfortunate rise in anti-Semitism and attempts to delegitimize Israel, the United States House of Representatives must emphasize the importance of combating anti-Semitism and reject all movements that deny Israel’s right to exist. Still, more is needed. The U.S. Senate passed the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 77-23. This bill would take concrete steps to end the anti-Semitic BDS movement. Sadly, Speaker Pelosi refuses to bring the bill to the House floor for an up or down vote. While this was a strong statement on the floor of the House of Representatives, Congress must do more to combat anti-Semitism and show support for Israel. Having the opportunity to visit Israel and see firsthand the challenges they face has only furthered my resolve to defend our friend and ally. The United States and Israel share common ideals that go beyond our strategic partnership. Tolerance, justice, and belief in the rule of law and democratic elections-these shared values forge a bond that can’t be broken by petty politics and ideological extremists.

In the volatile Middle East, Israel is surrounded by enemies who vow to destroy her, but Israel stands proudly as an outpost for our shared values. I am proud to stand with President Trump in supporting Israel. I am proud to have the backs of our allies.

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