From Gaza to Iran, a time of moral crisis

From Gaza to Iran, a time of moral crisis

For those of us in the United States who value Israel, its people, and its symbolic existence, these are heartbreaking times. Our world’s most sacred lands are again brutalized by terror as evil tries to extinguish the Jewish state. Though we may be far in distance, our spirit, support, and resources are needed. The United States stands in solidarity with Israel and its fundamental right to defend itself.

The ongoing crisis in Israel may feel a world away to some. Caught up in their daily lives, some Americans may not appreciate the magnitude of this ongoing crisis. But the significance cannot be understated: A free people and democratic ally of our nation faces continued war by elements of hate and intolerance. These are similar to those that have claimed the lives of millions, forever scarred the face of mankind, and brought this battle to our shores 13 years ago.

To know terror, look to their tactics. When Israel uses weapons to shield its children, Hamas uses children to shield its weapons. When Israel offers a ceasefire, Hamas orders more rocket launches. When Israel offers compromise, Hamas calls for more bloodshed. Israel needs — and deserves — the support of the world community, not a lecture from media commentators. If the United States were under daily rocket assault assuredly the press would not question our right to keep Americans safe.

Many of us in Congress have worked together in a bipartisan fashion to support Israel. Look no further than the Iron Dome capability at the center of Israel’s current defense apparatus. The Iron Dome has been the guardian of a people under siege. It was constructed with the help of American expertise, American technology, and American funds. Countless other measures have been designed to assist Israel, including legislation that the House passed last week to disrupt to the greatest extent possible the international financing capabilities of terror networks. 

Overshadowed by the recent news in Gaza was the announcement of the continuation of nuclear negotiations with Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism and financial backer of Hamas. The July 20 deadline for an agreement between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany passed, with all sides agreeing to a short-term extension. As Israel battles terror in Gaza, a nuclear-capable Iran is an approaching ominous cloud. 

A nuclear Iran would forever change the balance of power in the world away from those who work toward peace through deterrence. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty would be mortally wounded as rival powers scramble to acquire their own nuclear weapons, ensuring proliferation of the world’s deadliest weapons in the world’s most volatile region. An Iran with nuclear capabilities would pose a direct existential threat to Israel and indeed to our nation.

Under a final agreement, Iran must agree to the dismantling of its nuclear infrastructure so that it is left without a uranium or plutonium pathway to a nuclear weapon. Iran must agree to a robust inspection regime that allows for full-time monitoring of its nuclear facilities and no-notice spot inspections. Any comprehensive final agreement must also address the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, as well as past efforts in the realm of weaponization and Iran’s ballistic missile program.

Despite Iran’s defiant rhetoric, the West has the leverage to make such an agreement attainable. Iran’s economy is in shambles, badly hampered by years of strict sanctions. Rumors of a restless citizenry work in our favor. Enforcement of the current sanctions on the books will keep the economic screws tight on Tehran. Ensuring that the global sanctions regime maintains its integrity will also keep up the pressure. We need tangible Iranian concessions. Tehran must take steps to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure and commit to robust inspections and verification. These tenets are the bare minimum before sanctions can be eased.

A great question remains in these theaters: How can Israel negotiate with entities on a mission for its destruction? The answer is moral authority. Israel stands for peace, democracy, the rule of law, human rights, liberty, a two-state solution, and peace through strength. 

In this time of great moral crisis, now is not the time for neutrality. Nearly 800 people proudly stood in solidarity with Israel earlier this month at the Whippany headquarters of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ as we rallied for Israel. I took that energy with me to Washington, where I joined many other lawmakers in further conversations as to how best the United States can assist our friend in need. 

Israel must never lose its resolve, its mission, its purpose or forget its proud history. And the United States must support our great ally as it fights to preserve its very existence.

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