Unpack With YUPAC: Security of Israel: A Priority on the Rise in the US
On Nov. 19, former President Donald Trump addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual conference in Las Vegas via satellite, just days after announcing his intent to run in 2024. At the conference, he stated that President Biden has “betrayed Israel and the Jewish community” by partaking in negotiations with Tehran to re-enter the Iran Nuclear Deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, (JCPOA). Trump then vowed that, if re-elected in 2024, he “would never allow the State of Israel to be threatened with nuclear destruction like is happening right now.” Trump has in the past backed these words with action, having withdrawn the U.S. from the JCPOA in 2018.
However, President Biden still hasn’t made this process easy for the Iranians either. It was reported that Iran seems to have given up on diplomacy with the West and decided that aligning with Russian President Vladimir Putin offers greater benefit than continuing down the path of talks with the U.S. and Europe. Based on these barriers for the Iranians, it appears as if both Biden and Trump were reluctant to enter into an agreement with Iran in the first place, potentially a good sign for Israel, which opposes the deal. The security of the State of Israel has been discussed at conferences, such as the Republican Jewish Coalition, and preventing Iran from attaining nuclear weapons has been an often-discussed and extremely relevant topic regarding the security that the people of Israel crucially need.
The Iran Nuclear Deal isn’t even the only threat to the people of Israel. There have been recent concerns about the possibility of Iranian hypersonic drones. These drones are so powerful that they can even pass through all missile defense systems, according to General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGCASF). Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz claimed “Israel has the ability to act in Iran. We have the readiness, development capabilities, and long-term plans we are managing. We need to prepare for this possibility, and we will also need to consider this issue very carefully before carrying it out.” Such preparations are believed to cost over $2 billion and may require some assistance from Israel’s allies.
Given all of these potential threats to the people of Israel, where exactly do our representatives on the American side stand on this issue and many other issues impacting the Israeli and Jewish people? We’ve already looked at the views of the current and former presidents. In addition, at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s 2022 leadership conference, Kevin McCarthy, House minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, vowed to remove Ilhan Omar, the representative for Minnesota's fifth congressional district, from the Foreign Affairs Committee when he becomes Speaker of the House next year, as seems likely. He has accused her of making antisemitic comments in the past. Omar has long been critical of Israel and its “atrocities” in the occupied Palestinian territories. The fact that McCarthy has this issue on his mind shows his support of Israel and means that he’s trying to keep them at the forefront of his mind. He said that “we watch antisemitism grow, not just on our campuses, but we watched it grow in the halls of Congress.” His support for fighting this rising antisemitism is critical.
There are many elected Democratic officials who have a tremendous amount of pull in the federal government who are outspokenly in favor of Israel as well. For instance, Hakeem Jeffries, who was recently elected unanimously to become the House minority leader for the Democratic Party, has a reputation for being pro-Israel. David Greenfield, CEO of the Met Council and a former city councilman, said that Jeffries “understands the Jewish community, supports our issues and concerns and is absolutely pro-Israel.” Representative Ritchie Torres, a pro-Israel progressive from New York, described Jeffries as a “fearless and forceful” leader in his defense of the U.S.-Israel alliance and “living proof that bipartisan support for the U.S.-Israeli relationship is deep and durable.” This shows how much he also cares about these issues, with support amongst his peers. His support for Israel is very important for not only Israel, but for the United States as well, as his prominent position indicates that Democrats and Republicans can come together in strong support of Israel on most policies that relate to the Israeli-American relationship.
Another US politician who has voiced his support for Israel is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis stated at the same conference that “Judea and Samaria is not occupied, but disputed.” It is bold statements like these that will garner support amongst pro-Israel voters, and create the needed support for Israel. There are many reasons for Israel to feel isolated at times, due to its unfair treatment in the UN. Some examples of this unfair treatment include, but are not limited to, the resolution instructing Israel to destroy its nuclear weapons, as well as the constant attacks on Israeli settlements from the UN. However, statements from elected officials of the United States countering these anti-Israel views will be encouraging and will assist in the continued cultivation of the strong bond between the United States and Israel.
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Photo Caption: The Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual conference, where the topic of Israel’s security featured prominently
Photo Credit: Dan Scavino