Guest column:

Standing strong with Israel, our closest ally

Pending legislation in both Congress, Nevada Assembly would protect Jewish state

Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., hasn’t been in Congress very long but already she is standing up when too many others in similar positions are sitting down. I commend her for writing this and congratulate her and all other public officials who are standing up at a time when too many are cowed into silence.

— Brian Greenspun

If you ask foreign policy experts about the origins of the so-called Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, they will tell you it started in 2005. However, the unfortunate reality is that the roots of this misguided campaign which uses propaganda and economic pressure to sanction Israel goes as far back as 1930s Europe, when economic marginalization preluded the Holocaust.

Jacky Rosen

Jacky Rosen

Despite this fact, just last year the United Nations joined the effort to put economic pressure on Israel via sanctions. Setting aside the fact there are numerous countries throughout the world that commit significant human rights violations and yet avoid similar punishment, it is an undeniable truth that Israel is the one true liberal democracy in the Middle East, and it deserves to be treated as such. Israel is a country with a thriving free press and a nation known across the world for its support of women’s and LGBT rights, not one that should face sanctions by a supposedly peace-loving world body.

The problem with employing hate-driven rhetoric and economic marginalization is not only that it harms the Jewish people, but also that it impedes the progress of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, making peace less attainable for good actors on both sides.

Thankfully, citizens and lawmakers are working together to stand up for our nation’s strongest ally. I applaud Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison and the legislators in the Nevada State Senate who have introduced SB 26 to fight the BDS movement in Nevada. As a strong proponent of our alliance with the state of Israel, I wholeheartedly support this bill, which would specifically require anti-BDS provisions within Nevada public purchasing contracts and investments, preventing our state from supporting any entities promoting economic sanctions. This legislation represents an important step in our fight to maintain ties with our closest Middle Eastern ally. However, SB 26 is only one of several initiatives lawmakers in the United States should pursue to strengthen the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel.

I recently met with leaders at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference who are also focused on strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship, promoting Israeli security and fighting anti-Israel propaganda. We discussed challenges our two countries face, particularly threats posed by the Iranian nuclear program. For a country constantly threatened by missiles, rockets and mortar shells from terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, security is not only a gravely important issue, but is the most critical issue. That’s why I introduced the Defend Israel Act as one of my first pieces of legislation. This bipartisan bill authorizes expedited funding for Israeli anti-missile defense systems, protecting innocent civilians from attacks which have killed, wounded, or inflicted psychological trauma on countless Israelis. The people of Israel deserve to live free from the terror of falling bombs, and it is both our moral responsibility and a national security interest to strengthen their anti-missile defense program by funding it at the levels necessary to maintain security.

In addition to sponsoring the Defend Israel Act, I am a proud co-sponsor of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which will protect the state of Israel from politically motivated attacks in the United Nations and economic discrimination here in the United States. This bill would block U.N. attempts to unjustly blacklist Israeli companies and make it harder to unfairly boycott Israeli products and imports.

I look forward to the day when this bill becomes law and Israel has greater protection from economic extortion. I am working with my colleagues across the aisle on this critically important bill because ending hate should be a bipartisan issue. There is still much work to be done, but I am confident that our alliance with the people of Israel will endure.

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