Foreign Policy

Of course, we should stand with Israel

I am alarmed that our long-standing solidarity with Israel has been thrown into doubt by a White House that seems to be playing a proverbial game of jump ball, whereby the world wonders on which side America will stand. Of course, we should stand with Israel. Doing otherwise sends a dangerously emboldening signal to Israel’s enemies.


Israel exercised her legitimate right of self defense (Sen. Joseph Lieberman)

We should be very clear about who is responsible for the unfortunate loss of life in the attempt to break the blockade in Gaza.  Hamas and its allies are the responsible parties for the recent violence and the continued difficulties for the people of Gaza.  Israel exercised her legitimate right of self defense.


Too early for accusations (Rep. Jane Harman)

"I join President Obama in expressing my deep sorrow at the loss of life aboard the Marmara, and hope for a speedy recovery for the wounded flotilla members and Israeli soldiers. However, until the facts of this complex and tragic episode are fully investigated and understood, it is premature to assess blame or call anyone a murderer. The focus now must be on preventing events from escalating and leading to more violence, or scuttling the peace process."


Statement on Gaza flotilla incident (House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer)

“As we wait for all the facts to emerge about Monday’s events, several things are already clear.  First, the loss of life was tragic.  Second, Israel – rightfully so – invoked its right to self-defense on the Mavi Marmara. While the majority of ships in the flotilla – 5 out of 6 – reacted peacefully when approached by Israeli Defense Forces, activists on board the Mavi Marmara were clearly bent on a violent confrontation.  They further chose this path despite two week’s worth of repeated warnings from Israel that the ship would not be allowed to come ashore, and despite Israel’s offer to instead receive the humanitarian goods at Ashdod, inspect them there for weapons, and ensure their distribution to Palestinians in Gaza.  Finally, to the extent that this act was in protest of the Gaza blockade, let’s be clear: Hamas could end the blockade at any time by recognizing Israel’s right to exist, renouncing violence, and releasing Gilad Shalit.


Congress must act now on Gaza: International investigation needed

I urge every member of Congress to immediately pass a resolution calling for an international investigation into the Israeli assault on the Free Gaza flotilla carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian supplies and to demand an end to Israel's brutal blockade of Gaza that imprisons over a million Palestinians, almost half of them children demonized for their geography.


Restoring U.S. foreign aid to health

President Obama, his foreign policy team, and Congress are on the cusp of redefining how the United States approaches foreign assistance. As they undertake their aid reform effort this year, they're promising to get serious about ensuring that American funds are used wisely.

They're right to focus on results. And one of the best ways to guarantee that our aid dollars actually deliver for those in need is to use them to develop innovative new tools for combating the health problems that plague the developing world.


I refuse to join the "blame Israel first" crowd

Any loss of life is regrettable, but I fully support Israel’s right to defend itself.  Supporters of the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorist group clearly would like to find a way to deliver weapons to Hamas in Gaza.  Israel has a right to stop ships to prevent this from happening.  Israel offered the ship a port and promised to deliver the humanitarian aid, but militant activists on the ship intentionally provoked a battle instead.  Although much of the world community wants to deny it, Israel has a legitimate right to self-defense, and it is exercising that right in the waters near Gaza.  

I refuse to join the ‘blame Israel first’ crowd.  America must stand by its ally in our mutual fight against international terrorism.


Time to call out Israel's bad behavior

The Obama Administration's equivocation over Israel's outrageous deadly assault on humanitarian ships headed for Gaza ,while not surprising, is nevertheless unacceptable. Once again Israel's bad behavior has dug a deep hole for itself, and we're left debating whether or not to jump in with them. Responsible governments behave responsibly. In its dealings with Gaza over the past 43 years, Israel has been anything but responsible, and we need to clearly distance ourselves from their actions.

For decades Israel occupied Gaza reducing its people to total dependency as day-laborers in Israel. No infrastructure was built (no sewage, no paved roads, no sanitation system, no modern power grid etc). During the Oslo years, Israel remained in control of Gaza, allowing no independent Palestinian commerce to develop with the outside world. When Israel evacuated Gaza, they did so unilaterally and yet retained total control over all access and egress, thus insuring that the strip's economy would remain stunted -- with more than 65% of the population living below the poverty level and youth unemployment averaging 80% since the mid 1990's.


The Big Question: How should the U.S. respond to Israel?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their insight into the biggest news of the day. ...

Israel storms an aid ship and cancels Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trip to Washington.

How should the U.S. respond?


Stand with Israel (Rep. Michele Bachmann)

Israel has come under attack yet again from several world leaders who are calling the actions taken yesterday by their military "criminal" and "inhuman." The AP reports that Israeli commandos stopped six flotillas headed towards Gaza to make sure that their cargo did not contain weapons. The first five ships abided by the checks peacefully, but on the sixth ship, Israeli commandoes were met with strong resistance.

The AP Reports:

"A soldier identified only as a sergeant told reporters at a military briefing that the activists on board 'were armed with knives, scissors, pepper spray and guns.' He said he was armed only with a paintball rifle. 'It was a civilian paintball gun that any 12-year-old can play with,' he said. 'I saw my friends on the deck spitting blood.'

"Israel intercepted the six ships carrying some 10,000 tons of aid for the isolated seaside territory, which has been blockaded by Israel for three years, with Egypt's cooperation. The Israeli government had urged the flotilla not to try to breach the blockade before the ships set sail from waters off Cyprus on Sunday and offered to take some aid in for them.

"Israel has allowed ships through five times, but has blocked them from entering Gaza waters since a three-week military offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers in January 2009."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed "regret" for the loss of life of ten activists on board, but said the soldiers "had to defend themselves, defend their lives, or they would have been killed."

While the world decries the actions of Israel, I think it's imperative that the United States stand strong with their ally. I support Israel's position to stop and inspect peace missions headed to Gaza for national security purposes and the U.S. should reiterate our support for Israel and stand by them throughout the peace process in the Middle East.