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I Stand With Israel

Jul 9, 2014 | Blog

Hundreds of rockets have been fired at Israel in recent days from Gaza. The attacks have significantly disrupted daily life in many parts of the country as Israelis of all ages have been forced to huddle in shelters as warning sirens sound. There have even been reports of weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs interrupted by rocket fire as the guests had to run for cover. As during past trials, the Israeli people are showing themselves to be courageous amid the uncertainty and threats. 

The Israeli government has shown great restraint, and went to great lengths to try to avoid this confrontation. However, Hamas was intent on starting this conflict. While I am pleased by the apparent success of the U.S.-supported Iron Dome system in preventing significant rocket strikes on populated territory thus far, Israel cannot rely solely on this defensive shield. No country should be expected to put its citizens through the situation that millions of Israelis face. Israel has the right to take actions to defend its people, including striking rocket launch sites and the leadership of Hamas. I fully support those efforts.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration, aided by many in the mainstream media, has chosen this crisis as an opportunity to continue its criticism of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. It is shameful that a senior White House official would choose a moment of crisis to deliver a public diatribe in Israel against the government’s handling of relations with the Palestinians. Even if it wasn’t apparent to the Obama administration until recently, the events of recent days show once and for all that Israel does not have a serious partner for peace. Terrorists cannot be moderated by “technocratic” governments. Hamas cannot be turned into a legitimate political actor through backroom deals based on Hamas’ supposed weakness.

Instead of directing ire at our ally, Israel, U.S. officials should instead be sending a clear message to Palestinian President Abbas: If you are serious about peace, you should support Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence and terror instead of partnering with bloodthirsty killers.

Instead of facilitating Abbas’ narrative about the supposed technocratic nature of this government, the administration should state clearly that U.S. assistance will be suspended unless the government meets the requirements of U.S. law. This is the choice that Abbas needs to make. He cannot continue to have it both ways.

I hope that these events will cause the administration to rethink its entire approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. This is not about punishing all Palestinians. It is about recognizing the reality of the situation on the ground. It is about clearly stating to moderate Palestinians, and there are many of them, that they are not well served by leaders who are not willing to make courageous decisions for peace. It is about American leadership that recognizes America’s unique role in the world and matches it with the will to support our allies and oppose our enemies. It is about supporting Israel in its hour of need.