A week and a half ago, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, spoke to students at Dickinson College in a forum called “Israel: The Ultimate Ally.” Ambassador Oren discussed Israel’s remarkable accomplishments, the similar heritage between our two countries, and why it is essential the relationship between Israel and the United States remains strong.
As the only true democracy in the Middle East, Israel has been a beacon of economic prosperity and human rights for its people. Christians, Muslims and Jews enjoy equal protection before the law and the freedom to practice their own religion. In fact, the Ambassador recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Israel has become the safe haven for Christians in the Middle East who are fleeing neighboring Arab countries as they are being persecuted, murdered, and denied the right to freely worship. Israel has an independent judiciary that supports the rule of law. There are more 52 Arab-Israeli judges in the judicial system and 24 female members of the Knesset. It has free elections giving any citizen of any background the right to vote. Israel elected its first female prime minister in 1969 and is the only nation in the Middle East Freedom House listed as a free nation.
The Jewish State was formed only 64 years ago and has already accomplished so much. Today, Israel is one of the leaders in start-up companies, technological innovation, and the pursuit of a cleaner environment. More than 85% of Israel’s wastewater is recycled and Israel has the third most companies on the Nasdaq behind Canada and the U.S. Both Israel and the United States are the first to arrive to global crises such as tsunamis in Haiti or nuclear reactor disasters in Japan. Israel has developed a bandage that has saved countless lives of our soldiers overseas. It was because paramedics happened to have this bandage that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is still with us today. And during a time of growing security challenges, Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that America can constantly count on to stand tall for the right values.
Israel and the United States share common security threats and enemies. The Iranian government is pursuing nuclear weapons with no end in sight, denies the Holocaust ever occurred, and promises to wipe Israel off of the map. Iran not only poses an existential threat to Israel, but to our Arab allies in the region. Iran has already tried to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, DC, has threatened to attack within the United States on multiple occasions, and is propping up the Assad regime in Syria as it massacres thousands of its people.
Syria has joined the Iranians in becoming the largest state sponsors of terrorism around the world, and that’s before Iran gets a nuclear weapon. Both nations provide billions of dollars in funding, weapons, and safe-harbors to terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. Their charters call for the destruction of the Jewish state and all Jews around the world. Hezbollah already has American blood on their hands. It was responsible for the 1983 suicide bombings of the Marine barracks in Beirut that killed close to 300 American soldiers. Representative Peter King, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, released a report estimating there are a number of growing Hezbollah cells in the United States.
Meanwhile, the head of the Israeli Defense Forces Intelligence estimates that there are currently 200,000 rockets pointed at Israel — 60,000 of which belong to Hezbollah and another 10,000 belong to Hamas — in the Gaza Strip, many of which are stockpiled in hospitals, community centers, and schools. The U.S. military has already uncovered a plethora of evidence indicating Iranian weapons and agents operating within Afghanistan and Iraq who have been directly involved in the deaths of our military forces.
Some suggest that the United States should distance itself from Israel as a way to diplomatically deal with the rising threats in the Middle East. Distancing ourselves from Israel would be naïve and would exemplify a failure to understand the root causes of the threats both the U.S. and Israel face in the Middle East. Iran, members of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Hezbollah and others refuse to recognize Israel’s basic right to exist, which in no way hinges on whether or not we stand by Israel.
What has made the United States the stalwart defender of good in the world is that we always come to the aid of our allies. Israel and the United States constantly share critical intelligence and build unparalleled military defense systems, something that only occurs when the trust and relationship between us is strong. We believe in the same values and our goals of peace couldn’t be more aligned. It is through strength, resolve, and alliances that peace remains in reach and the force for good prevails. According to Gallup, seventy-one of Americans support Israel. They understand and recognize Israel’s many revolutionizing contributions for the betterment of the world. Now, more than ever, the United States must unapologetically stand by Israel.