On Wednesday, Secretary Kerry gave a speech at the State Department outlining a two state solution for the conflicts in the Middle East. With just three weeks until the new administration is set to take over, this last ditch, show of ‘effort’ included the Secretary claiming “no American administration has done more for the security of Israel than Barack Obama’s.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
For nearly 70 years, the State of Israel has served as an example of democracy and stability in a region surrounded by chaos. As Iran continues to flout the flawed nuclear deal, it has become apparent through their own ballistic missile testing and supply of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah that Iran is continuing to threaten the safety and security of Israel, and the United States.
Circumstances have changed over the past decade, and as a result, Israel has become increasingly surrounded by various enemies. The existence of Israel and its continued survival is critical, especially as the Middle East teeters on total collapse. Now more than ever, America needs Israel and ignoring that fact will cause greater danger for us and our allies.
Since the nation was created as the homeland of the Jewish people, Israel has faced countless assaults, terrorist attacks, and threats to “wipe it off the map.” Despite these threats, Israel has become a home to freedom, democracy, and innovation. Israel boasts a booming economy by leading the world in new technology startups and life-saving innovations for the American people, particularly our military men and women.
While serving in the Middle East, I saw several of these pioneering tools up close, like the emergency bandage, designed by Israel and found in every U.S. soldier’s first aid kit. Additionally, Israeli-made armor technology was utilized to shield the U.S. military’s Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles and ultimately saved countless American servicemen and women that could have fallen victim to Iranian-made explosively formed penetrators (EFPs).
Israel continues to provide the world with these critical technologies even as the people are burdened by endless bouts of violence. The danger has grown in the past decade with the constant threat of rocket attacks and other bombardments becoming commonplace. After Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, with hopes of greater stability and security, the terrorist group Hamas secured places of higher ground along the border and made greater advances in their crude rocket capability. Coupling the rocket attacks with the random knife attacks or bombings by Palestinian jihadists, it’s unbelievably dangerous and being there materializes that feeling of constant vulnerability and conflict – something the Jewish people have felt for centuries.
We all want to see an end to the deadly conflict, but true peace can only come when the threats to Israel and its people end. In late June, we woke up to the horror of another senseless terrorist attack in Israel that took the life of a 13-year-old American girl asleep in her bed. I stood with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu when he said that “you don’t murder a sleeping child for peace.” For peace to have a chance, these senseless murders need to stop immediately.
First and foremost, the United Nations cannot stifle negotiations by imposing resolutions that ultimately delegitimizes the state of Israel. Secondly, Hamas and the Palestinian leadership must recognize Israel’s right to exist and stop the incitement of violence. There needs to be a true Palestinian partner that is ready to sit down and end the decades-old conflict to ensure a lasting and secure peace.
On my many visits to Israel, I continue to be impressed by the resilience and commitment of the people of Israel to the state. The young people of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) serving their obligation to the military (for little pay) are on constant guard and ready to defend their fellow citizens from daily threats, regardless of what God they worship. In a time of war, this means protecting civilians who are constantly put in harm’s way by terrorists and thugs using human shields in the hopes of turning public opinion against Israel. On many occasions, Israel has met the international standard of the laws of armed conflict and even exceeded that standard by exercising great restraint to reduce civilian casualties, particularly at great risk to IDF servicemen and women.
In recognizing that Israel is one of our strongest allies, it’s important that we continue to cooperate on further partnerships and provide the necessary security assistance. Rather than hampering Israel with arbitrary limits on the funds Congress can provide, we need to ensure our ally has what it needs to stave off threats from jihadist terrorists and maniacal regimes. I hope that Congress and the new administration can work together to do away with the limits imposed on the current security assistance package signed by the Obama Administration.
In no area is this strategic partnership more critical than with the looming threat from Iran. Iran has continued to fund Hezbollah and Hamas and provide weaponry to those responsible for taking so many innocent lives. We cannot underestimate the Iranian regime or their threats. The United States must continue to convey to the Iranians that we will hold them accountable for their ongoing destabilizing and threatening activities against Israel.
At a time when the global order seems to be falling apart in the Middle East, there remains one constant for the United States: the friendship and steadfastness of our ally Israel. The last eight years have seen some troubling disagreements and clashes between the United States and Israel made all the more fractured by a President and administration that believes there should be “daylight” between our two countries in areas that should not divide us. Dismissing our friends and their needs for security was not good policy, especially when driven by politics.
Most recently, President Obama acted against our country’s decade-long, bipartisan agreement to stand by Israel. He undoubtedly should have vetoed the UN’s resolution on Israeli settlements, and his failure to do so highlights his willingness to support dictator enemies in Iran and Cuba rather than supporting the democratic state of Israel. It’s an embarrassment.
As we look ahead to 2017, I am confident the new White House administration will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel, reverse the damage done by Obama and understand the critical need for this partnership as it relates to our stability and security in the Middle East. Now more than ever we must reassure our allies in the global community that we are here, ready to stand for democracy and freedom.
Adam Kinzinger was first sworn into the U. S. House of Representatives in January 2011. He serves as the Representative for the Sixteenth Congressional District of Illinois and is a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. In addition, he served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee during the 113th Congress.Kinzinger served in the Air Force in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He has served in the Air Force Special Operations, Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command, and Air National Guard. He has the current rank of Major.