Weekly Columns

Standing with Israel

May 22 2021

Israel has endured increased terrorism and aggression from Hamas militants in recent days, including rockets fired at Israeli cities that have killed and wounded innocent civilians. This outbreak of violence began in early May and has quickly escalated into a conflict that has captured the attention of the world. Now, a ceasefire is in place and we pray for lasting peace.

It’s important to remember how we got here and why the United States’ interests are so closely aligned with the safety and security of Israel.

Hamas, the militant Islamist group that rules Gaza and has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union and United Kingdom, is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and serves as Iran’s proxy in the region. The group’s decision to begin firing long-range rockets at Jerusalem in response to protests and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police set off this current round of hostilities.

As we would expect to be the case with any other nation that experiences terrorism, Israel responded forcefully. It launched counter operations against Hamas in Gaza, targeting its infrastructure with airstrikes and seeking to hamper its ability to carry out further indiscriminate attacks against its people and territory. 

Thankfully, Israel’s Iron Dome – part of which is manufactured in Camden, Arkansas – has prevented additional damage and loss of life during this unfortunate episode. But the country has clearly been jolted by the fighting and destruction. 

The United States stands with and in support of our friend and strategic ally as it withstands this assault. Israel has an indisputable right to defend itself and secure the safety of its people. This brutal, unjustifiable violence against the Jewish state must be deterred and President Biden and his administration must lend our nation’s resources and assistance to our partner in its hour of need.

In the aftermath of this conflict, the U.S. government should also resume the promising efforts undertaken by the Trump administration to foster peace and promote normalization between Israel and its Arab neighbors. 

I, along with over 40 of my colleagues in the Senate, have urged President Biden to stand with Israel and to prevent sanctions relief to Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and established financier of Hamas’ terror activities. Representatives of the Biden administration have been in Vienna, Austria negotiating a possible return of both the United States and Iran to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal.

In light of this new turmoil in Israel, it is even more imperative that no new sanctions relief be afforded to Tehran. If that occurs, it potentially enables the Iranian regime to further support and finance Hamas’ terror against Israel. This is unacceptable. 

I have also joined other senators in supporting a resolution condemning the attacks against Israel by Hamas and reaffirming the United States’ unwavering commitment to our ally and its right to take whatever means are necessary to stop the murder of its citizens and foreign nationals residing in Israel. 

As the lone democracy in the region and a stabilizing force in an otherwise unstable and precarious setting, it is critical for us to support Israel and advocate for its peace and security now and permanently.

I will continue to lead efforts to back and assist the Jewish state, and ensure it knows that America will proudly, unapologetically stand with Israel and against those who threaten its existence or sovereignty.