Democrats have a long history of supporting Israel

For the last several years, an increasing number of Republicans and media outlets have tried to make support for Israel a wedge issue by claiming Democrats are anti-Israel. This rhetoric is not only harmful to Israel, it is also factually incorrect. Here are the facts.  

Democrats have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel since its founding. From President Harry Truman formally recognizing the Jewish state to President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump struggles to win over voters reaping economic boom Michelle Obama weighs in on Trump, 'Squad' feud: 'Not my America or your America. It's our America' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite MORE signing the largest ever U.S. security assistance package to Israel, Democrats have had a long tradition of widespread support for Israel.

On May 14, 1948, President Truman made the historic decision to recognize the State of Israel, making the United States the first nation to do so. From that moment on, we have always prioritized the U.S.-Israel relationship – recognizing the importance of the Jewish state’s survival and safekeeping. America and Israel share an unwavering commitment to democracy and shared values. Israel serves as America's most reliable strategic partner in the Middle East and supports U.S. regional and global policy objectives.

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Democrats stand with Israel because of our shared values. Both the United States and Israel are nations of immigrants – anchored by our ideals of political and religious freedom. Women, Arabs and members of the LGBTQ community serve openly in elected office. Additionally, Israel annually hosts the largest gay pride parade in the Middle East.

Unlike other countries in the Middle East, Israel protects workers’ rights to ensure a healthy work-life balance and grants numerous rights to its citizens.  Similar to the United States, Israel has democratic elections as well as an independent judicial system, which protects the rights of individuals and has held elected officials accountable. Moreover, with the freedom of the press, journalists, academics and ordinary citizens alike are able to openly criticize the government without fear of retribution.

In 2014, both Democrats and Republicans voted overwhelmingly to pass the Strategic Partnership Act and upgrade Israel’s status to “major strategic partner.” With this mutually beneficial law, the United States and Israel have expanded cooperation in a variety of spheres including national security, intelligence, homeland security, cybersecurity, energy, water, agriculture and alternative fuel technologies.

In 2016, Democratic President Obama signed a historic 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States and Israel – the third such MOU in U.S. history and the largest U.S. aid package to Israel of all time. The annual security assistance ensures that Israel can defend itself, by itself, against mounting threats across the region. The MOU pledges a total of $38 billion in aid to Israel over a 10-year period.

Recently, House Democrats – along with their Republican colleagues – overwhelmingly passed the Ileana Ros-Lehtinen United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018. The bipartisan measure codifies the new MOU and authorizes agreed-upon increases in Israel’s security assistance as well as new U.S.-Israel cooperation in cybersecurity and space. 

Even in hyper-partisan times, both sides of the aisle have found common ground on Israel. Democrats have supported, and will continue to support, Israel. Any rhetoric to the contrary is simply not true.

Lieu is a member of the House Foreign Affairs and House Judiciary committees. He is a veteran, having served on Active Duty in the Air Force, and is also an Assistant Whip for the Democratic Caucus.