Israel & the Middle East
My name, Leora, means “My Light” in Hebrew. My mother and grandparents escaped Lithuania and the Holocaust in 1940, were turned away at Ellis Island but found safety in Cuba. I escaped from Castro’s Communist Cuba with my family to find safety and opportunity in America, this land of freedom. As a result of my family’s experience, I am keenly aware of how easily one can lose everything to a heartless governing power. I wake up every morning thanking God that I am an American citizen living in the United States of America.
Many of us grew up being taught the Biblical miracles. As an adult, I have come to realize that miracles do happen. America’s founding, so unlikely, which hung by a thread many times between 1775 and 1778, was not just the triumph of enlightened government over tyranny, but a miracle.
As a Zionist Jew, I can say that I, too, am witness to a miracle: the State of Israel has been reborn, allowing millions of Jews to return to their homeland after millennia. This alone would have been enough however not only is Israel a pluralistic, tolerant democracy, but it is the “Startup Nation” which creates products and services through innovation and invention. It is also a security and intelligence powerhouse, working to protect peace in collaboration with the United States and other allies around the world. Not only does Israel defend itself, but Jews everywhere. Israel also produces groundbreaking medicine, therapies, and medical devices that save lives and offer better quality of life for all. Israel is now an energy exporter and a leader in green technologies. Its academies rank among the best in the Western World. Truly, Israel has taken its place among the Nations as a contributor to the betterment of Humanity.
America and Israel: Natural Friends, Natural Partners
The United States and Israel share Judeo-Christian values. From the arrival of the earliest Pilgrims, Americans have accepted that Israel is the Jewish homeland. Polls show that support for Israel among the American People continues to increase. Israelis appreciate U.S. support since the days when President Harry Truman recognized the State of Israel. Most recently, Israelis are grateful for President Donald Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli sovereign territory, recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the opening of the U.S. Embassy there (which I was honored to attend as part of the US Delegation), and for brokering the Abraham Accords.
Security assistance to Israel has economic and military benefits for Americans. U.S. assistance requires most of the funds to be spent on U.S. hardware, which, in turn, creates American jobs. Israel’s military technology is used by, shared with, and often developed jointly with America. It has been a fruitful, enlightening and security reinforcing relationship for both parties.
Americans directly benefit from Israel’s strength. The Israel Defense Force (IDF) is the most powerful military in the Middle East. It would take more than a U.S. Naval carrier group to begin to duplicate Israel’s capabilities.
As a U.S. Senator, I will lead on any initiative which strengthens American Security and the
relationship with our friend and ally, Israel. I will lead any initiative which promotes or enhances commerce between The U.S. and Israel. I will be a leading voice for a strong alliance between the United States and Israel because it is good policy and because it is in my DNA.
Friends – Abraham Accords
This breakthrough agreement has allowed the public blossoming of economic and military cooperation between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan. Parties to the Accords share an urgent security interest in defending against Iranian intimidation, terror, and the threat of nuclear weapons. But the Accords have gone further. Truly warm relations are developing. Cultural ties are forming.
As a U.S. Senator, I will be a leader in broadening and deepening the Abraham Accords through increased commerce, tourism, cultural programs, educational exchanges as well as mutually beneficial intelligence and security arrangements. I will lead efforts to prevent a nuclear Iran. I believe American Policy should include regime change in Iran.
Cyprus and Greece – Energy Gateway to Europe
Israel has had a long relationship with both countries in commerce, tourism, and intelligence cooperation. Importantly, now that Israel is an energy exporter, there is a tripartite agreement between Israel, Cyprus, and Greece to build a pipeline from Israel to Europe and a proposal to run an electrical transmission cable as well. Foolishly, the Biden Administration has joined Turkey in announcing its opposition to the pipeline.
As a U.S. Senator, I will lead support for such international economic projects as they benefit all parties. In fact, in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the pipeline is needed more than ever in order to supply Europe with clean secure natural gas in the face of potential additional Russian aggression.
Enemies – Iran, It’s Proxies, Qatar, Turkey
For 42 years, the mullahs have beaten, raped, tortured, hung, shot, starved, and impoverished their citizens. They have polluted the environment, wasted natural resources, squandered the water supply, and wrecked their economy, all while stealing billions of dollars for their own accounts. Importantly, Iranians hate their rulers, are pro-American, and some are turning away from Islam. The United States must support the anti-Iran coalition of Israel, the Sunni Arab States, and several European allies. Further, we must support the Iranian people in their effort to overthrow the Islamic Regime.
Disgracefully, Senator Blumenthal supports Obama’s “Iran Deal” that gave Iran $150 billion. Those funds were used to support the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Hezbollah and HAMAS. They helped fund HAMAS’ war against Israel last May of 2021. Recently, the Biden Administration released $29 billion to Iran as a “good will” gesture without getting something in return. Under President Biden’s new “Deal”, 3 years from now, Iran will have nuclear weapons with intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching America. Further, the Biden Administration agreed in writing to guarantee Russian access to Iranian oil exports even as it imposed sanctions on Russian oil. Russia is to be allowed to operate a $10 billion nuclear facility as part of an agreement that is supposed to prevent a nuclear Iran, yet the Biden Administration does not see the irony. I urge Senator Blumenthal to see Iran’s threat to the world for what it is, reject the new “Deal” on which President Biden is working, publicly urge him not to proceed and urge the President to work to end the Iranian threat.
I support an American policy of regime change. However, as a Senator, I will support a deal with Iran ONLY IF Tehran CANNOT enrich uranium, CANNOT develop nor possess ballistic missiles, CEASES its support for Hezbollah, HAMAS and all other terrorist organizations. The U.S. Senate has an important role to play in this matter. The President is not empowered to bind the United States without Senate approval. I will lead efforts to prevent a nuclear Iran and to end its terror activities. It pains me to say that the Biden Administration’s appeasement of Iran invites war with Iran.
Iran’s Proxies – Hezbollah and HAMAS
These monstrous kleptocratic terror organizations, one in Lebanon and Syria, the other in the Gaza Strip, have (similar to Iran’s government) oppressed and degraded their own populations and territories. Teheran has given them financial, logistical and manpower aid for years, especially funds from the Iran Deal which Senator Blumenthal supports. Hezbollah alone has over 75,000 missiles, 2,000 UAV’s and 145,000 mortars pointed at Israel. They have benefited from the windfall resulting from Obama’s Iran Deal and will once again greatly benefit from the Biden Administration’s new “Deal” about to be made.
It has been revealed that part of Biden’s Iran Deal will be taking the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps off the State Department list of Terror organizations.
As Senator, I will lead support for all policies which lead to these terrorist organizations’ demise.
Qatar plays a double game. While it does not act as a terrorist state per se, it is Iran’s financier. It has used soft influence throughout the Middle East, Europe and North America to buy friends and influence. Qatar is a clear and present danger to the national security interests of the U. S. in the Middle East, though it feigns to an ally and friend. Qatar has paid blood money to the likes of Hezbollah, HAMAS and ISIS to further its policy goals in Iraq, Syria and Gaza. It enjoys a warm, supportive relationship with the Taliban, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Russia, and China – all countries that seek to undermine Western liberal democracies. It worked to bring the Taliban back to power while convincing the Biden administration to declare the al-Thani government a “non-NATO major ally”. Never mind that Doha hosts and sponsors State Department designated terror organizations responsible for maiming and murdering Americans. Qatar and it’s ruling establishment are also the subject of Justice Department corruption investigations and subsequent indictments for corruption, bribery, unfair trade practices, the manipulation of international sporting competition, and bid rigging for the World Cup.
As a U.S. Senator I will lead efforts to remove their Major non-NATO Ally status and relocate our defense assets to truly friendly Middle Eastern countries. Further, the State Department should designate them a state sponsor of terror. Perhaps, these actions might persuade the Al Thani government be an ally of the U.S. rather than in name only.
Erdogan’s brutal dictatorial rule has turned Turkey, away from the West. The Erdogan regime supports HAMAS and other terrorist groups. Its purchase of the Russian S400 Missile Defense System caused the U.S. to stop delivery of F35’s as the presence of Russian operators jeopardizes the NATO defense system. Turkey cannot be a Treaty member while integrating its defense with Russia. Israel’s relationship with the Erdogan regime has been challenging since Erdogan came to power. There is a chance,
given a fair national election in 2023, that Erdogan might lose to a less Islamist, more pro-western administration.
Should Erdogan survive next year’s election, I, as a U.S. Senator, will advocate for Turkey’s exit from NATO.
The Palestinian Arabs
When asked would they rather live under HAMAS, the Palestinian Authority or Israel, Palestinian Arabs prefer Israel, and for many obvious reasons from personal freedoms and security to economic prosperity. This ultimate compliment to Israel points to the need to convince Palestinian Arabs to recognize that their conflict with Israel will not succeed and needs to come to an end.
As U.S. Senator, I will support agreements that Israel and the Palestinian Arabs reach on their own and will oppose outside coercion on them. I will not support a “Consulate” or “Embassy” in our Nation’s capital representing Palestinian Arabs unless and until they make peace with Israel.
I personally experienced constant anti-Semitism growing up in the South. I am keenly aware of how destructive and dangerous it is for our country and for young Jews.
The American Academy
Polling shows that 50% of Jewish American college and university students have experienced antisemitism on campus in just the past year. The source is not just students or off-campus agitators but from teachers as well. There are many teachers who support BDS and the number is growing. In fact, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) just endorsed BDS. This quiet crisis needs to be addressed.
As U.S. Senator, I will support efforts to expose the professors so that parents, administrators, the press, and the public know who they are. I will support programs that tell the truth about Israel and its history. I will support ending Federal funding for any academic program which promotes antisemitism and ani-Americanism.
Jewish Americans are being attacked, even killed just for being Jews on the streets of America. Whether it be in a Connecticut synagogue or on a Brooklyn Street, hate crimes have skyrocketed with antisemitic crimes horrifyingly accounting for most of the increase. Such attacks are personal for me. My sister knows the Rabbi at the Poway synagogue. She and my parents live near the Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh where they know the Rabbi as well.
As U.S. Senator, I will take the lead on any legislation which aids law enforcement efforts to halt anti-Semitic attacks.
Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS)
BDS is purely antisemitic. As Martin Luther King, Jr. put it, “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!” BDS supporters act out of mendacity or to be generous, ignorance. Its leaders are not ignorant, however. A quick look at these leaders’ resumes, their affiliations and their sources of funds reveals connections with HAMAS, the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran, Qatar and the like. Much work has been done to discredit and banish it, but the job is not finished.
As U.S. Senator I will lead efforts to rid our Country and the world of this bigoted, racist movement.
The United Nations
Founded in 1945 with the best of intentions, the UN’s operations, mission, and integrity deteriorated as more of the world’s dictatorships joined. To be sure, some of its activities are valuable today, but it has failed to stop wars, its stated purpose. Worse, it has become the largest anti-Semitic organization of all, obsessed with harming Israel even as it continues to ignore the plight of the Uyghurs under the Chinese Communists. Today, as I write, Russia has invaded Ukraine, yet the Security Council is debating Israel. Further, the UN recently established a new tribunal exclusively to investigate Israel and only Israel. To say that the UN needs major reforms is an understatement.
As U.S. Senator, I will support any measure designed to improve the focus and efficiency of the UN so that it better serves the goals of its Charter. I will support any effort to eliminate protocols that allow the likes of North Korea to serve as Chair of the Nuclear Disarmament Commission, or Syria to chair the Human Rights Council.
American Policy in the Middle East – the Big Picture
There will be no peace for America if it does not remain overwhelmingly strong in front of its adversaries: China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela. The weakness and lack of will that America has shown this past year is provocative. Russia began to move its invasion forces to the Ukrainian border at the biggening of the Biden Administration. Not wanting to “provoke” Russia, the Biden Administration halted all military aid to Ukraine, which was scheduled for delivery by the Trump Administration. The retreat from Afghanistan was shocking both in its ineptitude and geopolitical ignorance. Our adversaries watch, take notes and plan their next moves based on our actions. The Biden Administration has been displaying a combination of weakness, strategic misunderstanding, and a stunning lack of focus on what deters adversaries. Those who oppose the free world order must know that America has the will, not just the might, to resist their plans. If they had known this past year, Putin’s Russia would likely have calculated against invading Ukraine.
While rhetoric from the White House toward Israel seems friendly, the Biden Administration’s actions in establishing a “Palestinian Consulate” in Israel and their attempts to reopen the one Washington are offensive. The newly minted U.S Ambassador Nides was stunningly undiplomatic and insulting when discussing Israeli policies in March 2022.
America’s Sunni Arab friends, not to mention Israel, are terrified of a new ”Iran Deal”. They are furious about the removal of the Houthis from the State Department’s list of terror organizations even as they attack Saudi Arabia with Iranian missiles and drones. Now, as their oil fields are under constant attack by the Iran backed Houthis, the Saudis reasonably doubt their U.S. ally will help them at all. As a result, the Gulf leaders refused to even talk with President Biden in March, 2022 when he called to get their support on the invasion of Ukrainian. Accordingly, our Middle Eastern Allies are beginning to hedge their bets by expanding ties with Russia and China. America’s Middle Eastern partners have rationally concluded that they need to diversify their foreign-policy options, given Washington’s reluctance to uphold its defense commitments.
Should the new “Iran Deal” be consummated, we can expect a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and the loss of the Sunni States as allies, at the least; eventual war between Shia Iran and a Sunni-Israeli alliance, and an emboldened Iran able to threaten the American homeland with a nuclear attack, at the worst.
As a U.S. Senator, I will be a leader in supporting and encouraging an American foreign policy which seeks alliances with friends to stand up to and protect from implacable foes. Peace through strength is not provocative, it is the opposite. It is the essence of deterrence.