Dr. Julio Gonzalez on Israel
Position Paper on American Israeli Relations
America's greatest ally in the Middle East is the State of Israel. Few relationships are as pivotal to the continuation of regional stability than the one United States shares with Israel. With commons interests in the promotion of stable democracies and in the respect for human rights, the continuation of a robust relationship between these two regional partners and the promotion of each nation's financial and military strength is paramount to a long and lasting peace, not only in the Middle East, but globally.
This paper aims to outline the policy and philosophical positions of Dr. Julio Gonzalez regarding Israel and provides some insights as to the positions Dr. Gonzalez will maintain in governance as these two nations continue to meet the challenges that are sure to arise.
I. Personal Experiences With Israel and the Israeli People
While serving in the United States Navy, I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Israel. It was a tumultuous time that shortly followed the recurrent and reckless scud missile attacks from Iraq. Seeing the resoluteness with which Israel dealt with this strife provided a great lesson regarding the steadfastness and faith of its people, their love for freedom, and their relentless conviction for the protection of their homeland.
At sea, I learned of the incredible bravery, professionalism, and skill of the Israeli armed forces. As a flight surgeon, I had the opportunity to participate in combat training operations with Israel. The Israeli military was regarded as the most formidable, well-trained, and capable fighting force the United States routinely encountered with at least one American pilot intimating that he saw Israeli pilots doing things with our F-16s that we didn't know were possible.
These experiences engrained in me the importance of Israel's friendship and of protecting and fostering America's relationship with our Mediterranean ally.
II. America's Long-Lasting Relationship With Israel
The plight of the Jewish people and their relationship with the land adjoining the Mediterranean Sea dates back to the antiquities. The Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire in the 8th century B.C., thus ending Jewish self-rule in the area. The region exchanged hands numerous times between Persians, Romans, Arabs, and the Crusaders, among others. However, the Jewish people never abandoned their faith.
The nineteenth century saw the growth of the Zionist movement by the diaspora, calling for a renewal of Israeli independence and self-rule. In 1918, the League of Nations adopted the Balfour Declaration heralding the support of a Jewish state in lands then held by Palestine. This declaration, followed by the unprecedented persecutions by Nazi Germany, led to the swelling of the Jewish population in the area that would become the State of Israel.
On November 29, 1947, the United Nations recommended that the area east of the Mediterranean Sea be partitioned into independent Arab and Jewish states. Although the Jewish Agency was elated, Arab elements were adamantly opposed to the idea. On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, head of the Jewish Agency, declared the creation of a Jewish state, and on that same day the United States of America recognized the provisional Israeli government as the State of Israel. The announcement was met with immediate hostilities from Egypt, Syria, Transjordan and Iraq, and the Arab-Israeli War began.
America's recognition of Israel's provisional government as the official state of Israel was paramount to the nation's survival and eventually, a cease fire ensued. On May 11, 1949, the State of Israel was admitted into the United Nations validating its existence.
But Israel's relationship with its regional neighbors was not to be a peaceful one. The emerging state saw attacks from the Palestinian Fedayeen, and hostilities from Egypt led to the Six-Day War of 1967.
During the 1970s, Israel fended off multiple attacks from the newly established Palestinian Liberation Organization, which quickly devolved into a fomenter of terrorism. In 1972, the world reeled in horror when Jewish athletes were murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the Olympic games in Munich, Germany. I was only a child when these treacherous murders happened, but I remember watching television, understanding very little as to why these events were happening, but fully cognizant of the terrible evil that was ensuing.
The very next year, the Yom Kippur War began when Egyptian and Syrian armies launched an invasion into Israel. In one of the most brilliantly executed military responses in history, Israel repelled the attackers inflicting significant losses upon its enemies while minimizing its own casualties.
The 1980s saw continued attacks from surrounding countries and terrorists upon Israel while Iran worked to develop a nuclear reactor. In response, on June 7, 1981, Israeli planes attacked and destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor. The following year, Israel responded to continued attacks from the PLO by destroying its bases in Lebanon. As Israel forged into the 1990's, Iraq, under the control of Saddam Hussein, launched countless missile attacks upon Israel. Eventually, the United States would invade Iraq and unseat Hussein, but Israel would not participate in the hostilities.
The controversy regarding the West Bank and the governance of Palestinians living in Israeli territories was addressed in the 1990s. Initially, a negotiated solution was attempted with the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1992 implementing self-rule by Palestinians living in portions of the West Bank. But perhaps no more poignant a moment occurred in Palestinian-Israeli relations than when Yasser Arafat unilaterally walked away from the table after being offered almost unbridled concessions by the Israeli Prime Minister, Erud Barak. The failure of the Camp David Summit led to the displacement of Prime Minister Barak by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who, in 2001, unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip, but these actions would not lead to a peaceful Israeli existence. Instead, another terrorist organization, Hezbollah, largely supported by Iran, carried out open hostilities against Israel, which have continued into the 21st century.
Today, Israel continues to be harassed and threatened by organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, with support from Iran, and although the State of Israel has grown into a strong independent nation and a regional power, its security is not guaranteed under the open hostilities from neighboring countries voicing their intent to continue until Jews are driven into the Mediterranean Sea.
The United Nations has not been a helpful influence in securing peace in the Middle East. Amazingly, despite the clear moral distinctions between the actions of Israel and those of its foes, the United Nations has taken a decidedly anti-Israeli position in its votes and resolutions, perhaps partly as a result of its open disdain for the United States.
Despite the ongoing strife, the United States has continued to stand by Israel, and its friendship has been critical to the continued stability of the State of Israel and the region. This relationship is no less important today as Israel reacts to continued diplomatic, military, and terrorist threats from the likes of Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and even North Korea and Russia.
In the meantime, the recent resurgence of American leadership, resulting in actions such as the belated but welcomed decision by President Trump to move the American embassy to Jerusalem (a symbol of America's recognition of Israeli sovereignty) and the staunch pro-Israeli positions demonstrated by America's Ambassador the United Nations, Nikki Haley, America continues to demonstrate its loyalty to Israel and its resolve for its continued and peaceful existence.
III. Threats to Israeli Security and to Regional Peace
With continued threats from its Arab neighbors, Israel's peaceful existence is anything but secure. The Obama administration's relatively passive stance in the Middle East served as a destabilizing influence on Israel's security and on regional stability. President Trump's more aggressive position asserting Israel's inherent right to exist and overtly opposing regional terrorist influences have served to check the devolution of the region's stability. Moreover, positive American interactions with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan have fostered a tenuous, positive Arab presence in the fight against terrorism. The efforts of this coalition will inevitably be aimed at counteracting the disruptive influences from Iran and Syria.
With its financial, material, and logistical support for organizations such as Hezbollah, Iran is the largest state sponsor of terror in the world today, representing not only an elemental threat to Israel, but to the stability of the United States as well. With Iran's help, Hezbollah has created a terrorist network designed to rain destruction upon its victims. Unquestionably, the Obama administration's attempt to ameliorate these hostilities through appeasement and an Iranian Nuclear Weapons Deal has been a political and diplomatic disaster
The United States must continue to play a leading role in addressing the Iranian threat and in countering its destabilizing influences. America must maintain a no-tolerance policy on Iran's nuclear weapons development program. The United States must guarantee compliance with the ill-advised, but binding, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action imposed upon Iran. If Iran breaks away from this program, the United States must effect a quick and decisive response such that Iran's nuclearization program will be permanently and irreversibly dismantled.
Iran's clandestine networks through which it delivers its support to terrorist organizations working against the security of Israel must also be disrupted. When in Congress, I will support efforts at disrupting Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities and at breaking up its nefarious coalition of fomenters of terrorism that aim not only to destroy Israeli sovereignty, but to disrupt American interests throughout the world. Although sanctions may be a component of these efforts, no option should be taken off the table when dealing with the threats posed by Iran and its rogue regime.
To the northeast of Israel, Syria continues to pose a significant threat to Israel. Syria's ongoing Civil War has caused significant losses to the region and is the source of ongoing human rights atrocities in the form of mass killings and chemical weapons attacks against its own people. The situation is compounded by Russian support of the Bashar al-Assad regime and its continued and near direct confrontations with the United States.
Although Israel has generally stayed away from this conflict, Iran has capitalized by injecting its forces within the Syrian border with an aim towards fomenting its hostilities against Israel. These acts of aggression by Tehran have led to multiple Israeli responses, the latest of which took place on April 9, 2018, when Israeli fighter jets bombed a Syrian air force base in central Syria housing Iranian troops.
Syria has become a central focus to the future of Middle Eastern politics. Clearly, the Assad regime, with its countless and continued human rights atrocities, must come to an end. Of course, complicating this outcome is the regime's Russian and Iranian support. The United States must continue its strong and visible presence in the region, and it must influence the political climate to put an end to the Assad regime while supporting a government that will acknowledge Israel's right to coexist peacefully in the community of nations.
C. Newfound Relationships
Interestingly, recent shifts in political and popular thought in Saudi Arabia coupled with regional reactions to the atrocities committed by ISIS and the roles played in support of them by Iran and Al-Qaeda have caused a renewed interest amongst historical enemies of Israel in defeating these fomenters of overt evil. Potential positive relationships are showing signs of development between traditional anti-Israel players like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The United States must continue to forge these relationships while maintaining an unyielding moral compass that calls for the end of human atrocities and the fostering of regional democracies. Such a plan must include a safe, robust, and prosperous Israeli state.
III. Shared Financial Interests
America's ongoing relationship with Israel is of paramount importance to both nations. Such a relationship cannot exist without the ongoing proliferation of each nation's economic base. Central to their economic stability is a robust trade policy. Both countries boast strong technological industries. Israel's advancements in water purification technologies and military defense are the source of great potential to the United States and great wealth for Israeli companies. Similarly, American military defense products are vital to Israel's continued wellbeing. These trade relationships are to be fostered for the betterment of both nations.
B. Foreign Investment in Israel.
American support of Israel through foreign aid packages aimed at bolstering Israeli security and prosperity has been a staple of the American-Israeli relationship. This must continue. The key to productive aid packages between these two inseparable allies is the promotion of Israeli defense programs that also bolster economic growth and development within the United States. This formula has been the source of ongoing success and prosperity for both countries and has reinforced the economic and military strength of America’s greatest ally in the Middle East.
Acting against these priorities are boycott, divestment and sanction efforts (BDS) designed to hurt Israel under false accusations. Having already visited this issue as a State Legislator during the deliberations on HB545, a bill I supported that prohibited contracting with companies boycotting Israel, I will continue to adamantly support any legislation designed to counter BDS actions against Israel, and by extension, to the United States.
IV. Securing America's Future With Israel: Forging Peace Through Strength
Unquestionably, America's interests in the Middle East are intimately intertwined with Israel's. A strong and robust relationship based on open dialogue between the two nations, fostering of a vibrant economic relationship, and a unified stance against common enemies is essential. Legislation such as the Taylor Force Act designed to dissuade enemy nations from participating in and promoting acts of aggression and terrorism towards Israel should be enforced and strengthened where necessary. The world must understand that any act of aggression against Israel is tantamount to an attack upon the American people and will not be tolerated. Moreover, in light of Israel's status as a free and independent sovereign, it possesses an inherent right to engage in direct and unimpeded negotiations without preconditions, including with the Palestinians, and this right must be respected and upheld.
Understanding the importance of these priorities, I will approach the challenges confronting Israel with the premise that Israel's strength and stability must be promoted if the region's peace is to be maintained and the opportunity for the respect of human rights in the region is to continue. While in Congress, I will do everything I can to help secure a lasting peace in the Middle East for Israel while observing Israel's inherent right to its sovereignty and self governance.