Gavin Clarkson On Israel
In Congress, I will be a reliable advocate for strengthening the alliance between the United States and Israel and for continuing to repair the damage done to that relationship by the Obama Administration.
The starting point of any discussion concerning Israel must be the nonnegotiable notion that Israel has a right to exist. Everything else flows from that fundamental.
Auschwitz and Dachau still haunt the halls of history, and one of the lasting lessons we must teach future generations is that millions of Jewish lives might have been saved had there been a sovereign and secure Jewish state at the time of the Holocaust.
After the United Nations endorsed Israeli statehood in 1947 and Israel declared independence in 1948, President Truman immediately committed to ongoing American support. That ongoing alliance for Israel as a democratic friend, although influenced by pragmatic modern considerations and affinities of ideology and culture, ultimately traces to America’s roots as a Christian nation. The Bible records the first establishment of Israel as a nation after God led the people out of Egyptian captivity back to the land he first promised as an "everlasting possession" to Abraham and his offspring in a unilateral divine covenant in Genesis 17.
Another commonality we have with Israel is the entrepreneurial spirit we share. Known as the “Start Up Nation,” our closest partner in the Middle East is an oasis of remarkable scientific, technological, and medical innovation.
So, if Israel has a right to exist, the first imperative of American policy should be to respect her sovereignty as an independent nation. In other words, Israel must not be treated as a vassal state subservient to the will and whims of Washington, DC. The Obama administration arrogantly attempted to dictate domestic as well as diplomatic decisions for Israel’s democratically elected leaders, and when Prime Minister Netanyahu failed to comply, he was undermined and embarrassed on the international stage, and the U.S. government shamefully sent taxpayer dollars to domestic opposition groups in Israel in an attempt to oust him. Sovereignty implies self-determination with respect to boundaries, settlements, and security. We do not have the right to decide where Israel citizens should be allowed to settle, how Israel should defend its borders, or when Israel should take military actions to protect herself, either preemptively or defensively after an attack.
America’s posture towards Israel should be one of support, both diplomatically and materially. We must stand with Israel on the international stage, always from a position of strength.
First, the Middle East peace process will not be advanced by asking Israel to surrender more and more “land for peace.” The U.S. should never pressure Israel to compromise territorial integrity or the recognizable and secure borders to which every nation has a right by definition. When Ehud Barak even offered Yasser Arafat the Palestinians an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital, Arafat dismissed the offer without so much as a counterproposal. Clearly, peace was not the goal, and since then, the Palestinian Authority has continued to work with Hamas and other terrorist organizations and their Arab and even Iranian backers to fund a steady wave of violence against Israeli civilians. There can be no peace without acknowledging Israel’s right to exist, so we should not expect an end to aggression anytime soon and we should continue to take Israel’s side as guided by her elected leaders. Arabs and Israelis cannot be considered morally equivalent antagonists as long as one side harbors exile and extermination of the other side as its goal, which is what the 2000 Camp David Summit revealed.
Second, we must practice the Hippocratic principle of “do no harm.” Indeed, one of the most glaring issues that has come to my attention is the fact that American tax dollars are literally subsidizing terrorism against Israel. The Palestinian Authority, which has received more than $4 billion in U.S. tax dollars over the past 10 years, devotes a whopping 8% of its entire budget to supporting the families of men killed while committing terrorist attacks. In fact, these families are promised free health insurance, a free college education, and an income triple that of the average Palestinian salary. This has got to stop. I intend to cosponsor the No Bonuses for Terrorists legislation, which has been introduced before in the House.
Third, I supporting cutting all foreign aid except to Israel, especially to nations that chant “death to America” and burn our flag.
The reason I support continued defense aid to Israel is because ultimately Israeli security is American security. Therefore, the United States should continue to help Israel maintain her Qualitative Military Edge (QME), the military technology advantage necessary for Israel’s safety in a sea of hostile neighbors. Since 1949, we contributed $70.5 billion in bilateral military assistance, not to mention unquantifiable mutually beneficial sharing of intelligence and weapons development knowledge.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is an excellent example of good intentions overriding sound negotiation. Indeed, no deal is better than a bad deal, so I fully support President Trump’s keeping his promise to withdraw from this one to renegotiate in favor of a plan that will actually accomplish its objectives and pass Congress as required by our Constitution. Peace is a great goal, but not at this price. Allowing Iran to keep its nuclear infrastructure intact while ignoring its role as the leading state sponsor of international terrorism is unacceptable. After ten years, Iran would only need one year to produce nuclear weapons, and given the ongoing and explicit threats against the very existence of our ally Israel, that’s a margin of risk we should be unwilling to settle for. In 2016, Iran launched a missile with “Israel must be wiped off the earth” etched on its surface, and Iran’s rulers still refer to America as the “Great Satan.” That fact makes the JCPOA’s failure to deal with Iran’s missile development all the more frightening. Given the ongoing fallout from Obama era weaknesses, preserving and enhancing the QME will be a top of mind priority once I reach Congress.