One of my top priorities in Congress is to do everything that I can to strengthen the bonds between the United States and Israel, and to ensure that the United States never wavers in our support for the State of Israel and the Israeli people.
This is a priority for me because of the unique bonds that our district shares with Israel. I recognize and value the historical, cultural and religious bonds that have tied our countries and our people together for so long. And I believe our partnership with Israel is as beneficial to the United States as it is for Israel. Indeed, when we invest in Israel’s security and prosperity, we are investing in our own security and prosperity.
And this week, I was proud to once again stand up for our deep and vital relationship with Israel by voting to condemn the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support.
There has never been a shortage of people who are vocal in their criticism of Israel and even in their deep-seated anti-Semitism. And with the passage of H.Res. 246, the House unequivocally rejected attempts to undermine Israel’s rightful place as the Jewish homeland.
This vote was a critical step forward, because anti-Israel forces are turning more and more to the BDS movement as a tool to try to delegitimize Israel. In fact, the UN Human Rights Council even passed a resolution to create a “blacklist” of companies that operate or do business with entities that operate beyond the 1949 armistice lines.
Much like the UN Human Rights Council, this movement is predicated on the belief that Israel is the main obstacle to peace and that Israel is standing in the way of a lasting resolution to the current conflict.
And while forces behind the BDS movement may claim to want peace between Israelis and Palestinians, we know that BDS will not help achieve that peace. As I’ve always said, a lasting resolution to this conflict will only come through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The terms of that resolution will not be dictated by a third party – but that’s exactly what pro-BDS advocates and much of the international community want to do.
Nevertheless, the BDS movement is gaining steam, which is why it’s never been more important for people to be vocal about our support for Israel and oppose this misguided movement – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. We need to speak up about the fact that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and shares a region with neighbors focused on its destruction. That Israel, like the U.S., values freedoms of speech and religion and shares a deep commitment to human rights, women’s rights, and equality.
Just two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Israel as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation. While there, we met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Ambassador David Friedman, leading Members of the Knesset and top security officials, where I was pleased to deliver a strong, bipartisan message of support to our critical ally.
I’m not afraid to be vocal about my support for Israel, nor will I hesitate to stand up to those who seek to undermineIsrael’s right to exist. And today, that’s what the House of Representatives did. We sent a clear message to our country and to the entire international community that the United States of America stands with Israel. And that is a message I will continue to send as long as I have the privilege of representing New York’s fourth Congressional district in Congress.
Kathleen Rice represents New York's Fourth Congressional District, which includes the Five Towns and other South Shore communities.