Friday, May 21, 2010

Standing Firm with Israel

America has a long tradition of supporting those on the side of democracy

By, Elizabeth Emken

Republican Candidate for Congress, California’s 11th District

Since 1948, the State of Israel has stood tall as a bulwark for democracy in the Middle East and has been one of America’s staunchest allies. No matter which party occupied the White House, United States foreign policy reflected the importance of our strong relationship with Israel and our understanding that a secure Israel is vital to our own national security interests. The U. S. has always stood strong in support of Israel in its sovereign right to protect itself from the existential threat of Islamic radicalism. President Obama is the first American president to break with that longstanding policy. I support efforts underway to urge the State Department to affirm the United States’ unique and historic relationship with Israel and to conduct relations in a manner that befits longstanding strategic allies.

A bi-partisan group of Members of Congress recently sent a letter to the Obama Administration calling for crippling sanctions against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. I support their effort. Nuclear weapons in the hands of a terrorist-sponsoring regime, such as Iran, pose a threat to Israel’s very existence and to our own security and national interests as well. History is replete with nations ignoring the threats of radical regimes and consequently enduring the tragic consequences. To avoid this fate, I believe we must do more than just support sanctions as an end to themselves. These sanctions must be accompanied by a measurable assessment of whether they are stopping Iran’s determined march toward nuclear weapons. There is strong evidence that Iran will use its strategic alliance with Venezuela and others to circumvent any sanctions. This must be prevented at all costs. Finally, U.S. foreign policy must be driven by the priority of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons and not by our investment in the U.N. process.

It is incumbent on the U.S. and Israel together to develop a comprehensive approach to dealing with the threats facing both countries. The web of terrorist organizations sponsored by Iran and its allies are the greatest impediment to the peace process. I share the vision of peace in the Middle East with Israel and an independent Palestine living side-by-side. However, it can only be accomplished through the explicit recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign state in her historic homeland and through the abdication and renunciation of terrorist tactics to achieve opposing political goals. States that refuse to renounce terrorism as a solution to this conflict should not influence our foreign policy of supporting Israel, nor receive our support. I endorse legislation that will require the recognition of Israel’s right to exist and the renouncement of terrorism as a pre-condition to receiving US foreign aid.

Finally, let us not fall into the trap of minimizing the importance of Israel’s and the United States’ investment in a modern and robust national defense. We must continue to support the unique defense budget burden Israel is forced to carry because of the threats to her in the region. The United States spending on national defense is shrinking as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according to the Congressional Budget Office and the White House Office of Management and Budget. Their numbers show that since 1962 defense spending has declined from 9.0% of GDP to an estimated 4.7% in 2009, a declining trend that is forecast to accelerate further under the current Administration. Yet the threats to our national security and to that of our ally, Israel, have not subsided. It is time to engage our leaders in a national debate. The first and foremost responsibility of government is to protect its citizens. Our proud tradition as a nation is to stand firmly on the side of our allies. Let us return to that tradition and ensure a safe America and a safe Israel for future generations.

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