Op-ed: Showing support for Israel


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com |

BY U.S. REP. STEVE ISRAEL

I chose to be in Israel for the first week of the Congressional recess period because I believe it’s important to support Israel in the U.S.; and I also believe it’s critical to support Israel from Israel.

During my weeklong trip, what shocked me the most was the complete disconnect that the media and the rest of the world has when it comes to the reality that Israel endures. From the first day when I arrived at Ben Gurion Airport and there was an air raid in Tel Aviv, to my last day when Hamas launched rockets seconds after a cease-fire expired, it was painfully clear to me that Israel has to battle terrorists, and that the U.S. has to lead the battle against the double standard the world places on Israel.

In Congress, I have led that fight. Just a few weeks ago, the House unanimously passed a resolution I introduced with Republican Tom Cole that expressed support for the State of Israel’s responsibility to defend itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from Hamas. The resolution passed with more than 160 bipartisan cosponsors. Shortly thereafter, I led 106 of my colleagues in a bipartisan letter to the United Nations to condemn Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields, which is a direct violation of international law. My trip validated the importance of these steps.

On my second day in Israel, between 7:55 and 8:00 a.m., Hamas launched a barrage of 25 rockets before a 72-hour cease-fire took hold. Throughout the next three days, I detected a collective holding of breaths in Israel. It was a sigh of relief tempered by the reality that every cease-fire up to then had been rejected or violated by one side: Hamas.

The world seems to have forgotten that.

During briefings, I was reminded that Hamas embeds its weapons in homes, mosques and hospitals. Its military commanders remain underground while cowardly forcing civilians to act as their human shields. Naftali Bennett, Israel’s minister of economy, described it best: “One side uses its soldiers to protect civilians while the other side uses civilians to protect soldiers.”

The world seems to have forgotten that.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, he wondered aloud how many lives would have been saved had Hamas agreed to a cease-fire that Israel supported in the first days of the conflict.

The world seems to have forgotten that.

I visited the Ziv medical center, 19 miles from the Syrian border. It admits Syrians for advanced medical treatment without asking whose side they are on. These civilians come to the border, receive initial care at an Israeli Army Field Hospital, and then are transported to Ziv. They receive free, state-of-the-art care, including prosthetics. They may have spent their entire lives hating Israel; now their lives are being saved by Israel.

The world seems to have forgotten that.

One evening I met with four major Israeli entrepreneurs on a panel discussion about Israeli innovation. One speaker paused when he heard a sound. “Is that an air raid?” he asked. Another panelist responded, “No, it was just the wind.” I remember putting my children to bed when they were young. When they heard something troubling I’d calm them by saying it was just the wind. Israel is an entire nation forced to question whether the wind is an air raid alerting them to yet another unprovoked missile.

The world seems to have forgotten that.

I saw this disconnect rather painfully. During my visit, I tweeted my observations. I received a tsunami of the most virulent and disgusting responses imaginable. I was called a child-killer and a supporter of genocide. I was accused of being a traitor to my country and advised to run for a seat in the Knesset. When I asked my critics why they were silent during the deaths of 165,000 civilians in that civil war but outraged at the current events in Gaza I was told I was filthy and inhumane.

Sometimes we take U.S. support for Israel for granted. But the conflict in Gaza has unmasked the giant bias of much of the media and the raw hatred that many in the world continue to have toward Israel as a Jewish state. Until the people of Israel can distinguish between the wind and an air raid warning, I will continue my leadership unabashedly and unequivocally.

Because there is much the world must never forget.

 

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