Chief among my priorities are safety and security, both here in the U.S. and abroad, and I believe that our strong and enduring partnership with the State of Israel is a cornerstone of maintaining these goals. The United States and Israel have maintained a steadfast partnership for over seven decades, bound by our shared commitment to common values. The U.S.-Israel partnership is one that must continue to thrive – and importantly, cannot become a partisan issue. I stand firm in my commitment to the U.S.-Israel alliance and will continue working in Congress to support policies that strengthen our strategic alliance.
I had the opportunity to visit Israel for the first time last year, where I experienced its deep history, cultures, and natural beauty. I was also able to learn more about the innovative technologies Israel has created that Americans depend upon for agriculture, energy, healthcare, commerce, transportation, and national security, among many others. Through my experience leading a national workforce development program and building the first online training program for digital manufacturing in the U.S., I have seen the importance of creating high-skilled, new economy jobs of the future. I look forward to finding new ways to develop strategic plans to build on these technological successes together.
I will also stand alongside Israel against the BDS movement, which seeks to undermine Israel’s economy and legitimacy. I believe the BDS movement is a deeply biased campaign, which only targets Israel, and not any other nation. Its main goal is to delegitimize Israel’s existence and inflame tensions in communities and on college campuses, which undermines the prospects for peace. At a time when anti-Israel boycotts are prevalent around the country and globe, and the Anti-Defamation League is reporting a dramatic uptick in anti-Semitic hate crimes, it is now more important than ever to stand beside Israel and oppose state-sponsored BDS. I look forward to continuing to support legislative efforts in Congress that push back against the BDS movement, as the State of Michigan has done. It is also recognized for those on all sides of this issue that they have the right to free speech as enshrined by the Constitution of the United States.
I believe in Israel’s fundamental right to self-defense. As the only democracy in the Middle East and our strongest ally in the region, Israel’s safety is paramount to our interests at home and abroad. Congress must continue to unconditionally support critical programs that help Israel upgrade its fleets in air, land, and sea, enhance the mobility of its ground forces, and continue to strengthen its missile defense capabilities. The landmark Memorandum of Understanding reached under the Obama Administration provided Israel with robust funding to accomplish these goals, and I will continue to support funding from this historic agreement, as I have each year. I have no illusions about the destructive force that Iran continues to be in the international community. With Iran’s human rights violations, support for terror groups, its rhetoric toward Israel, and continued testing of ballistic missiles, Iran must be held accountable. Whatever one thought of the Iran deal, the U.S. is no longer a part of it and we must chart a way forward. That way forward must prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and also deal with terrorism, rockets, and regional destabilization. Diplomacy must be the first option and is the best solution but all options must remain on the table.
I will continue to lend my voice to bringing greater stability to the region. Israel is a great and beautiful country and must endure as the homeland of the Jewish people. I believe in the worth and value of every Palestinian and every Israeli and will work to support a negotiated solution resulting in two states—a democratic Jewish State of Israel, and a viable, democratic Palestinian state—living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition. This peace process should be settled by the parties directly involved in the peace process, not brokered at the United Nations, where the United States is continuously forced to defend Israel against unfair assaults on her right to protect herself. While a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is vital for long-term safety and security in the region, it cannot infringe on Israel’s right to exist safely and as a Jewish state.
Our countries share a commitment to justice and equality for all. From standing up for women’s rights to affirming our support for the worldwide LGBT community, our common values are what unite us. That deep sense of justice – born out of a shared commitment to repairing the world – is why we can always count on each other.