February 20, 2019
This week, I came to Israel to highlight my continued commitment to the strategic partnership between the United States and Israel. I visited with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saw the U.S. Embassy in its rightful location in Jerusalem, and discussed our robust military cooperation. It is clear to me that the United States has a valued and trusted friend in Israel, and that our enduring partnership will serve the security of our two countries and the region for years to come. Unfortunately, there are some who do not appreciate this reality.
Last week, an American Congresswoman claimed on Twitter that American support for Israel was based on nothing more than financial contributions and slick lobbying efforts. This is offensive and wrong. It smacks of the lazy, anti-Semitic tropes that remain sadly all too common. But to put a finer point on it: nobody has to buy support for Israel, because Israel has earned it on its own.
Israel stands alone as a democracy in the Middle East. It shares our commitment to upholding religious liberty, equal access to education, capitalism, and free speech. Israel is also a stabilizing force in the region that often serves as the tip of our spear against two threats to American security: Iran and Islamist terrorists. As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I firmly believe that America’s strategic partnership with Israel advances American interests and American values.
I’m proud we have a president that values and respects America’s unique partnership with Israel. Last year, President Trump moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to the true capital of Israel, Jerusalem. In 1995, I led the legislative effort to require the move, which Republicans and Democrats supported in an overwhelming 93-5 Senate vote. But year after year, presidents of both parties shied away from the bold action required to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state. President Trump kept his promises to American families and allies – making the embassy move one of the early actions of his presidency.
President Trump also pulled us out of the disastrous Iran Deal, which did nothing more than legitimize Iran’s aggression and nuclear development while putting Israel at risk. He has also stood up for Israel’s right to defend itself, and condemned the abuses of Hamas and Hezbollah at international forums.
Congress continues to take meaningful, bipartisan steps to support our relationship. Earlier this month, the Senate passed the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, legislation that strengthens our military cooperation and allows states to forgo contracts with those participating in discriminatory boycotts against the world’s lone Jewish state. It also increases Israel’s security assistance and promotes our continued cooperation on mutual defense issues. I was proud to stand with Israel as a leading co-sponsor to vote in support of this legislation.
My visit to Israel this week has strengthened my belief that the United States has a true friend in Israel, centered on defending U.S. interests and bolstering regional security in partnership with a strong and democratic ally in an otherwise tumultuous Middle East.
Senator James M. Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, is chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee.