03.06.19

House Should Support Israel, Pass the Strengthening America's Security in the Middle East Act

ā€˜I know I speak for colleagues on both sides of the aisle when I say that support for the State of Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship is deeply felt all across this country. Our relationship is built on common values and democratic principles. On shared interests, close partnerships, and deep friendships. The support for Israel that you see in this Chamber is not the work of some shadowy conspiracy. The members of this body support Israel because so many Americans support Israel.ā€™

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding pending House action on the Senate-passed, Strengthening America's Security in the Middle East Act:

“I want to discuss something that will be happening on the floor of the House of Representatives, perhaps as soon as today. Remarkably, for the second time in just the last three weeks, Speaker Pelosi apparently feels compelled to have her members vote on a resolution that would reportedly condemn anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, again, for the second time in just the last three weeks, this seems to be in response to the invocation of crude, hateful, and backward anti-Semitic stereotypes by one specific freshman member of the House Democratic majority.

“This Democratic Congresswoman already stoked controversy in mid-February, having publicly proclaimed that Israel’s supporters are only in it for the money. Apparently she believes the only reason leaders would stand with the Jewish people and the State of Israel is Jewish money. Well, I think we have all heard that kind of talk before. And we must not tolerate it. During my time in the Senate I’ve had the honor of traveling all over America.

“I know I speak for colleagues on both sides of the aisle when I say that support for the State of Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship is deeply felt all across this country. Our relationship is built on common values and democratic principles. On shared interests, close partnerships, and deep friendships. The support for Israel that you see in this Chamber is not the work of some shadowy conspiracy. The members of this body support Israel because so many Americans support Israel. I had hoped this regrettable episode might have caused this lawmaker to be more careful with her language. But alas, just a few weeks later, here we are again.

“More anti-Semitic tropes. This time, she claims that supporters of Israel actually have, quote, ‘an allegiance to a foreign country.’ There’s that ugly, old ‘dual loyalty’ smear. Plain as day. We should also not overlook that, in a few cases, these anti-Semitic statements have provoked offensive anti-Muslim comments in response. That is hateful and completely inexcusable as well. So now, the House of Representatives seeks to distance itself from this member’s remarks, and will apparently soon vote to condemn anti-Semitism for the second time in just a few weeks. And I hope, this time, that the message is clear.

“Support for Israel isn’t about the ‘Benjamins’ -- it’s about the hearts and minds of the American people. And it is unconscionable for any member of the United States Congress, even less a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, to repeatedly traffic in base stereotypes. The long, bloody legacy of anti-Semitism is spread out over the pages of history. But regrettably this scourge is not confined to history.

“Long common across the Middle East, violent, hateful acts of anti-Semitism have been increasing throughout Europe. Less than a lifetime after the Holocaust, nine out of 10 European Jews say anti-Semitism has increased in the past five years. Eighty-eight percent of French Jews say they actively worry about targeted vandalism. That country alone saw 541 anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, a massive 74% increase from just the prior year.

“In France, in 2006, a Jewish man was kidnapped for ransom because criminals assumed his Jewish family had to be rich. When their plan failed, they tortured and killed him. A memorial tree was planted in his honor. Earlier this month, that tree was found chopped down. Anti-Semitism on top of anti-Semitism. Trends here at home are troubling, too. Every year, hundreds and hundreds of anti-Semitic incidents take place in America. Everything from vandalism to harassment to threats in schools, college campuses, and other public places, to targeting Jewish institutions.

“This racial and religious hate mongering deserves swift condemnation. So I am glad the House is at least taking up this short symbolic resolution and rejecting the anti-Semitic tropes this Democratic Congresswoman keeps peddling. But at the end of the day, it is just a symbolic resolution. If House Democrats wanted to, they could pass real legislation to take action against anti-Semitism and shore up America’s relationship with Israel. I know they could -- because last month the Senate did just that.

“The House should take up and pass S. 1, the bipartisan foreign policy legislation that the Senate passed last month, 77 to 23. That legislation walks the walk. It supports Israel and gives local communities the flexibility to combat the so-called ‘BDS movement,’ which is a kind of anti-Semitic economic warfare that opponents of Israel are trying to wage against the Jewish state.

"The bill also attends to other critical priorities, such as renewing U.S. commitments to Jordan’s security and providing for the Assad regime’s butchers to be brought to justice. S. 1 is not just about combating anti-Semitism or bolstering the U.S.-Israel relationship, it’s about standing with an Arab partner like Jordan and providing justice for the Syrian people. Words are one thing. Meaningful action is another. House Democrats should walk the walk and pass S. 1 without any further pointless delay.”

Related Issues: National Security, Israel