I grew up in the small south Alabama town of Elba. I cannot claim any sort of cosmopolitan exposure to Israel or even Jewish people. Elba had no temple and, as far as I know, not even a Jewish resident. It was filled, however, with God-fearing preachers who taught of the importance of our support of and love for Israel from the pulpit most Sundays. I first was introduced to Israel as the ancestral home of Abraham, David, and Solomon in church and Sunday School. My understanding of Israel’s special place in history, geopolitics, and America’s past, present, and future deepened, ironically enough, in that Southern Baptist incubator where we were taught from the earliest age I can remember of Israel’s special status . . . not because some man or politician said so but because God, Himself, said so. As the only nation ordained by the same God Who we worshipped alongside our Jewish brothers and sisters, I have known my whole life of God’s age-old and ageless declaration that “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curseth thee; and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) This verse imposes a God-ordained duty on all nations to stand with, protect, and advance the legitimacy and prosperity of Israel or to suffer the consequences.
Then, one day, I toured the Holy Land without ever leaving my Dad’s old record player. He brought home a Johnny Cash record called “Holy Land.” It is a travelogue, guided by another Southern Baptist who made the wonder of the land of Israel come vividly to life as he visited one holy site after another with a portable tape recorder on which he captured the sounds of the land of miracles. I imagined the people. I could feel the desert heat and smell the sweat. I was profoundly touched by this land, rich in history and prophecy and promise, this land where the stories of God’s might and power unfolded, this land promised by God to the chosen people He called His children.
As I grew and became interested in politics, I came to know Israel as God’s most favorite nation and America’s staunchest ally. My study of history has likewise taught me that these are not dusty fables in scrolls from long ago. They are continuing promises. Israel’s more recent history as it was recreated in its ancestral land and has, against all odds, overcome being far outnumbered by those who hate them with a religious fervor and have dedicated themselves to Israel’s destruction. Time and again, Israel has defied every odd and God has faithfully kept His promise to grant them (and their allies) favor. America has always been a strong ally. She must always remain so. As a member of Congress, I will dedicate myself to ensuring she does.
AMERICA’S BOND WITH THE LAND OF ISRAEL
The United States of America and Israel have a bond that is forged and moored in a shared faith, values, beliefs, and friendship. Israel’s ability to survive and thrive in the midst of sworn, blood enemies dedicated to her destruction is a testament to the Providential creation of Israel as a nation. Israel stands as an example to the brutal dictatorships that surround her. As a beacon of hope amidst a sea of darkness, Israel points those who will look towards the path to peace through strength. Israel has been America’s best friend in the tumultuous Middle East and America has reciprocated by ensuring Israel has the means to protect and defend herself via unwavering financial, military, and diplomatic support.
It is fitting that America recognized Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel. I applauded President Donald Trump for taking this bold stand. Far from being rhetorical, he also ordered the movement of America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. America stood alone in its decision and, even when the United Nations criticized and condemned the decision, America vetoed action by the Security Council and proceeded with the implementation of this presidential directive. This kind of American leadership and friendship must continue to underpin American- Israeli relations.
President Ronald Reagan said it best when he spoke eloquently of the special relationship between the United States and Israel on March 23, 1982, in an address to the National Conference of Christians and Jews when he said, “Since the rebirth of the State of Israel, there has been an ironclad bond between that democracy and this one . . . America has never flinched from its commitment to the State of Israel – a commitment which remains unshakable.” So it must always be.
DEFENSE & PEACE
Peace in the troubled Middle East has long required a strong presence by the United States. America’s ability to fill this void has been and remains dependent on our alliance with Israel. The United States’s national security demands that we arm and equip Israel with the necessary defenses to protect Israel’s resources, sovereignty, and, most importantly, lives of her citizens. This includes continuing to provide the $3.3 billion in security assistance and $500 million in cooperative missile defense funding that is currently provided via a Memorandum of Understanding. This security assistance must remain at a level that ensures that Israel always maintains a qualitative military edge in the Middle East. America’s interests are inextricably aligned with Israel’s and we should be constantly searching for more, better, and new ways to improve the cooperation between our nations. Peace in the Middle East will be achievable only as long as Israel remains strong. America’s support of Israel is instrumental in ensuring Israeli strength.
IRAN & TERROR
Unfortunately, these topics are inseparable. They are very nearly synonymous. Iran is a terrorist state, provides refuge to the world’s most bloody terrorists and training grounds and resources to protect and advance the worst terror organizations, and is the largest exporter of terror. Iran has publicly and repeatedly stated its intentions to destroy both Israel and “the Great American Satan.” Yet many in our government continue to excuse Iran’s reckless behavior.
Israel must have wide latitude to defend itself and, as it does so, to defend the rest of the world from its bloodthirsty neighbors. It must have the support of America. Those neighbors must never doubt America’s commitment to Israel. It has long had my prayers and support as a private citizen and it will continue to have both when I am a Congressman. This includes support for any and every action to stop Iran in its quest for nuclear capabilities and the advancement of terrorist activities. Iran must be thwarted at every opportunity. I support the enhanced sanctions against Iran and President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the shackling “Iran Nuclear Deal” that only advanced and emboldened terrorist activities and actors and the interests of Iran at the expense of America and Israel. Iran has flaunted its willingness to defy the United Nations, which provides only tepid, timid, and toothless sanctions for Iran’s ongoing ballistic missile tests. In the face of an unyielding threat of Islamic terrorism abroad and at home, it is always in the national interests of the United States to support Israeli military, counter-insurgency, and counter-terrorism efforts.
Not content to abuse its own citizens, Iran has also engaged in gross human rights violations with its insurgent efforts to support the murderous Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria where it has been directly responsible for gross human rights violations.
I support the current sanctions. I support further sanctions that will interrupt Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles, that will halt Iran’s sponsorship of terror and terror organizations and activities, and that will deter further human rights violations being committed by Iran against its own citizens and the citizens of other nations. There must be transparent, open, and free inspections of Iran’s facilities to ensure its compliance with agreements to which it is a party and sanctions imposed by the rest of the world. We must aggressively resist Iran’s attempts to destabilize the region, to murder those it opposes, to export terror, and to develop new ways to terrorize the rest of the world. America’s support of Israel must never be in doubt.
BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT & SANCTIONS MOVEMENT
America must not only support Israel militarily, we must also support her economically. The efforts to hurt and cripple Israel economically must be opposed. These efforts are actually only thinly veiled attempts to delegitimize Israel. By targeting Israeli businesses and goods, those behind these efforts are damaging the global economy. I am proud to hail from a state where our people, through their Legislature, have made clear where we stand on the efforts to isolate and sanction Israel with the passage of legislation outlawing such measures in our state. Maybe that is no surprise for a state whose motto is “We dare defend our rights.”
Further, I support the Israeli Anti-Boycott Resolution and the revival and passage of the Israeli Anti-Boycott Act and other anti-boycott, divestment, and sanctions legislation. The federal government should follow Alabama’s lead and stand against this effort and its anti-Semitic underpinnings. We know, from history, that when America does not stand with the Jewish people, it becomes complicit in the horrors that follow. American leadership must never again vacillate in its support of Israel and our Jewish friends.
THE PEACE PROCESS
Israel is a sovereign nation. Period. She should not be coerced or forced to allow outside influencers like the United Nations to impose its ideas about the terms of peace upon her. Instead, the United States must stand with Israel and support her position that she has the sole, sovereign right to make decisions about her own security and acceptable terms of peace in the region. America must use her veto power at the United Nations to block any and all efforts by that body to impose peace on Israel on terms that Israel does not believe to be in her best interests or to interfere with the right of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to negotiate a peace on terms they accept. As a member of Congress, I will use my voice and influence to publicly support these objectives.
The threats to Israel are as old as the Torah. Today, a new threat has emerged. It is arising from within the political system of Israel’s oldest and most reliable ally in the form of members of Congress who publicly spew their hatred of Israel and America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s survival. They call themselves “the Squad” and their leaders are Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. They do what “squads” have always done – they take hit jobs and cheap shots. They pose the same threat to America’s ties to Israel that cancer does to a body – they threaten to rot away those ties from within and they cannot be left to fester unchecked. Fortunately, America presently has a leader who is unwavering in his support of Israel and America’s support for and ties to Israel. America needs more, new, unreserved, and unapologetic voices to join the chorus of defending Israel, however. I can do no less than be one of them because I crave God’s favor and blessing but also because I fear that, if America ever withdraws her unequivocal support of Israel, the consequences of the curse she will incur will be devastating. I am unwilling to allow the land I love to turn her back on the land that the God I love has chosen and blessed. I am unwilling to allow those who seem to hate both of those lands to have a platform to poison public opinion without a counterbalance voice exposing them and their radical agenda and the threats they pose to America and her closest and most important ally.
America has many important and strategic alliances, but she has no other alliance that is as special or important as the one she shares with Israel. Our nations share common traditions and enjoy the only alliance that carries a promise and a curse from God. America’s support of Israel is vital to the success, security, and futures of each nation. American policy towards Israel must recognize these pillars:
- America has been Israel’s most loyal ally.
- Israel is an important beacon of democracy amidst terrorists.
- Israel’s concerns must be America’s concerns.
- Israel’s security creates a safer and saner Middle East.
- Israel’s success benefits American interests. We must renew and recommit ourselves to these principles and our friendship with Israel daily. We must respond to the political hits being leveled by the Squad and their allies with rhetorical counters and political strength. As a member of Congress, Israel will have a loud and vocal friend and fierce, unwavering advocate in me.