While a 10-year-old boy, living abroad as the son of American diplomats, I had the good fortune to visit Israel and witness first-hand the history, beauty, and spirit of a country carved out of the dreams of the Jewish people. I still retain memories of floating in the Dead Sea and walking through the streets of ancient Jerusalem.
As Consul General of the American Embassy in Vienna in the late 1970s, my father oversaw the emigration of Soviet Jews through Vienna, which resulted from the liberalization of Soviet emigration laws under the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. With my father, I visited the small office of famed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal and stared with amazement as he spoke of the need “to never forget.” From an early age, I’ve understood the hopes and the fears of the Jewish people.
America and Israel share a core set of values that are etched in our national histories: faith in the promise of liberty, respect for religious freedom and human rights, and a culture of entrepreneurship. What flows from these defining beliefs is another shared purpose: to bring peace to the Middle East through an unwavering commitment to democracy and an unyielding resistance to coercion and terror.
There is no greater obligation of any government than the security of its people within their communities and the defense against external invasion. There can be no peace in the Middle East so long as Israel is besieged by terrorist armies sworn to its destruction. America must remain resolute in our commitment to Israel’s right to defend the safety of its citizens against state and non-state actors alike. While the interests of America and Israel may diverge on occasion, there can be no compromise on the principle of self-defense.
I reject those who would use the phrase “cycles of violence” to describe the actions of Israel in support of its own security. The actions of a sovereign nation in response to terror are not morally equivalent to the precipitating act of terror.
Unlike the 54 members of the U.S. Congress who signed a letter condemning Israel’s self-defense measures which led to its closing of the Gaza border, I support the right of Israel, or any other nation, to erect physical border barriers to protect and defend the security of its citizens.
Iran’s repressive theocracy represents a permanent threat to Israel’s security. Its president has stated unambiguously that Israel should be “wiped off the map.” Iran also represents a serious threat to American interests and the cause of Middle East peace, as the nation funds and arms proxy forces in its blatant quest for regional domination. This trouble-making also poses a serious threat to the emergence or evolution of democratic impulses among Israel’s neighbors.
There can be no doubt that the regime in Iran is aggressively pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Left unchecked, Iran’s actions will lead to war. This dangerous regime and its threatening tendencies must be opposed steadfastly.
America should be in the global forefront of pushing and enacting crippling economic sanctions to isolate the Iranian regime, acting unilaterally if necessary. Targeting Iran’s access to banking and credit and punishing those who facilitate the nation’s access to advanced technologies is in America’s national security interest. The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act would put additional pressure on this dangerous regime and I would support passage of this bill. America should become more vocal and more supportive of the Iranian people’s democratic protests against oppression.
I support a two-state solution as the path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel has ceded land for peace in the past and it may be feasible to do so in the future, should it be able to identify a credible peace partner with whom to negotiate. Direct negotiation between Israel and a unified Palestinian entity is essential for a lasting peace. However, this endpoint is made impossible by the bifurcated and contradictory nature of the Palestinian counter-party. A peace deal with the Palestinian Authority will not be binding on Hamas, which uses ceded territory as a base from which to launch attacks and threats against Israel.
I do not believe that the United States should impose pre-conditions or intervene directly in the internal affairs of any sovereign nation. We should use our diplomatic, commercial, and military standing to promote direct engagement, stability, and peace between warring parties without dictating specified policy outcomes.
The inter-dependency of America’s financial strength and Israel’s security cannot be overstated. In an era of massive and chronic U.S. budget deficits, America’s global military position and financial independence will wane. A sustained period of large budget deficits will lead to military retrenchment and possibly a new push toward American isolationism, while America’s budget deficits are funded by two significant economic adversaries — the government of China, and to a lesser extent, Russia.
This represents a toxic mix, and helps to explain America’s toothless response to Iranian belligerence and our inability to force economic sanctions through the United Nations.
Those who support massive increases in deficit spending, financed by America’s economic and military competitors, are progressively eroding our nation’s capacity for independent action. A weakened America, banked by China, is a much less reliable ally for Israel.