Arizonans should be proud of their U.S. representatives and senators.
Republicans should be proud of the Democrats, and Democrats of the Republicans. Yes, in today’s political climate this may seem like an aspiration of the past, but in essence there is every reason to be proud.
I was part of a strong Arizonan delegation that visited the U.S. Capitol along with 18,000 others attending the annual AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) policy conference to show support for the continued bond and commitment the United States has to Israel and Israel has with the United States. Jews, Christians, Latinos, African-Americans, Democrats and Republicans all were unified on this one issue. Well-known Republicans and Democrats, who for the large majority of the time are on polar opposites of any spectrum, shared the stage together, pledging their commitment in a unified strong voice for peace in the Middle East and a continued strong alliance between the United States and Israel.
Peace, yet to be attained, but so longed for by Israel’s people and its government, will continue to be of utmost importance, yet challenging as history has demonstrated, with no peace deals being accepted for a Palestinian state in 1937, 1947, 1967, 2000 and 2008. Despite this, stirring and moving examples from “small” acts of hope for attaining peace in the region were highlighted at AIPAC; the life-saving heart procedure done on a young Palestinian boy facilitated by the late Shimon Peres to the multiples of Syrian refugees who each night line the Syria-Israel border knowing that only Israel will take care of them and not their own country. More than 3,000 to date.
One who knows the history in the Middle East and follows how Israel has become a leading global nation in several industries such as high-tech and medicine would not be surprised why there is strong bipartisan support in the United States. The improbable success of a nation the size of New Jersey in just a matter of close to 70 years since its founding, amidst the everyday challenges it faces from terrorism, along with the strategic elements serving the U.S. interests are reason in and of themselves for bipartisan support.
The United States, the very essence of a free democracy could not ask for a better ally in that region – period. That is not to say that Israel is perfect. Of course, there are challenges and imperfections, but when looking after U.S. interests and moral obligation, it is understandable why there is strong bipartisan support.
This bipartisan support on a state level in Arizona was ever so prevalent when House Bill 2617 which bars the State of Arizona and local governments from doing business with companies or groups boycotting Israel was signed in 2016. The bill passed 42-16 with support from both sides of the aisle. This bill was not just a bill that showed support for Israel, it was a bill that was stamping out the ugly head of anti-Semitism, too. What’s come to be known as BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – a campaign founded by Omar Barghouti, who himself benefited from Israel by getting a degree from Tel Aviv University, in an attempt to suffocate Israel’s economy on the false premise of Israel being an apartheid state, has largely been quashed by a growing number of states through efforts with bipartisan support.
Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus of Harvard Law School, expounds on BDS being anti-Semitic and counterproductive. “The very people that want to have sanctions against Israel are the very same people who want to remove them against Cuba, China, Russia and Iran, the countries that engage in genocide and systematic oppression of minorities.” BDS, he says, is counterproductive to the possibility of peace as it encourages as much distance between BDS followers – who include Palestinian leadership – and Israel in any form.
Republicans and Democrats both understand that it’s the right thing to back U.S. support for Israel be it because it’s morally right, it serves U.S. interests, it’s a strategic ally that will be there for the U.S. or all of the above.
Even when policy questions may seem to cry out that collaboration from across the political spectrum is the best thing to do, the political climate does not always demonstrate that it can be done. Fortunately, it is the critical support for Israel that has demonstrated that Republicans and Democrats have common ground, and for this reason we are fortunate in Arizona to see that bipartisan support.
Rabbi Leib Bolel leads MAKOR – providing Jewish families and professionals, educational opportunities and Shabbat services in Scottsdale and jLIVE, an organization for young Jewish professionals in the Valley.