On the morning of Saturday, Oct. 27, evil struck at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh. Eleven lives were taken in cold blood at their house of worship. All of us are struggling to understand why such a heinous crime occurred. This is not who we are as a nation. I completely condemn what happened in Pittsburgh. Leaders from the president on down must be voices of reason and restraint to unite the nation.
I attended a vigil the following day at Temple B’nai Avraham in Livingston. People of all faiths and all walks of life joined in prayer that morning. Such scenes are the America I know, one of religious freedom and the welcoming of others.
In Congress I will continue to be a voice and a vote against the rising tides of anti-Semitism and intolerance. I supported President Barack Obama’s hate crime legislation as well as millions of dollars in more funding for the FBI to interdict crimes of hate before they occur. And I am one of the voices on my side of the aisle leading on gun safety legislation. I will speak loudly and vigorously against voices of hate in the public sphere. Those of us in public life must lead by example to console our grieving country.
This is the paramount issue of the time. But there are other important issues I want to share with this readership. During this campaign I have deliberately put the issue of Israel and our collective security front and center. Israel is a very important issue and one of significant consequence to many of the constituents I represent. I do not take these issues lightly and if pro-Israel lawmakers and candidates for public office, especially for the Congress of the United States, do not concentrate on this issue, we are compromising American national security and doing a great disservice to our strongest ally in the Middle East.
I have been to Israel. I have toured the holy sites. I have had chills down my back at Yad Vashem. Israel and her protection must always be at the center of American foreign policy — a goal I have tried to advance in my tenure.
One of my first assignments in Congress was to pledge a leadership role in the Republican Israel Caucus — a working group of members of Congress who treasure Israel and the Jewish people and pursue policies devoted to collective security and strengthening one of our nation’s most important alliances.
It has been a privilege to be one of the leaders of that group and I have done so with demonstrable accomplishments that have made a positive difference for our two nations. The most significant has been the successful construction of the Iron Dome technology so critical to the safety of Israelis throughout their country.
This has not been cheap. Pro-Israel lawmakers have approved over $1 billion in funding for the project. It has been money well spent. The Iron Dome has saved lives. Over 3,000 missiles have been shot down from the sky by American technology and American know-how given to Israel. Israel is an investment worth making.
Four presidents have promised to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. Only this administration delivered on that promise. I cosponsored legislation in this regard because I believe the embassy of our great nation belongs in world capitals — not in compromise locations.
I am also adamantly opposed to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS) and have consistently fought against it.
During Pres. Obama’s second term I was one of the strongest voices opposing the nuclear agreement with Iran. I called for immediate Iranian concessions and supported legislation for Tehran to take steps to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure and commit to a robust inspection and verification regime before a dime of sanctions relief was to be realized. I believe those demands to be the bare minimum before sanctions can be eased.
The Obama State Department saw it very differently and delivered to Iran sanctions relief and billions of dollars in unfrozen assets to the world’s leading state sponsor of terror before any meaningful action was taken.
Regarding Syria, Bashar al-Assad crossed the “Red Line” in 2015 and many innocent Syrians were killed at his whim by chemical weapons. Our State Department declared Assad’s chemical weapon stockpile eliminated. We all know tragically this was not the case. Such naiveté on the world stage is dangerous. I supported both of President Donald Trump’s military strikes in Syria and believe Assad must go before any lasting peace can be achieved.
I seek the support of this readership based not only upon my views on Israel and foreign affairs, but also my approach to domestic policy matters — I am a problem solver and a political centrist. I’m an Eisenhower Republican. I believe in judicious public policy and building from the center out. I’ve built consensus with those across the aisle and I believe our work together has made a difference. That’s not just talk. I am ranked the 13th most bipartisan member of Congress (out of 435) and I sit on the most productive committee in Congress, the Energy and Commerce Committee. Landmark cancer research bills, environmental cleanup legislation, and the children’s health insurance bills became law through our committee.
I care deeply about the future of our great country and of our allies. I seek your support based on my record in fighting against anti-Semitism and violence in any form and always speaking in measured tones on the great issues of the day. I promise to seek justice and truth in the world, particularly as they relate to Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East and one of our strongest allies on Earth
Leonard Lance (R-Dist. 7) has served five terms as U.S. representative since 2008. He is running for re-election on Nov. 6. NJJN has offered major local candidates the opportunity to state their viewpoints.