I had the opportunity last week to participate in a conference call with the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, who discussed the latest developments in Israel and talked about potential scenarios for the coming weeks.
Ambassador Dermer noted the positive reception that he is getting as he makes the rounds on Capitol Hill in order to discuss the conflict in Israel with Members of Congress. In fact, prior to our conference call, Ambassador Dermer had just briefed members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Senate Foreign Relations, Armed Services, and Intelligence Committees on the current situation in Israel.
It was heartening to hear Ambassador Dermer’s first-hand account of the bipartisan support for Israel that he sees in Congress. In times of crisis, it is reassuring to know that we have friends in Congress that we can count on.
In fact, two resolutions were recently introduced on Capitol Hill—one in the House and one in the Senate—which express solidarity with Israel and support Israel’s right to defend itself.
H. Res. 657, which passed the House on July 11, expresses the “sense of the House of Representatives regarding the United States’ support for the State of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization.”
Introduced by Representative Steve Israel of New York, the resolution notes that “Hamas is a United States-designated terrorist organization, whose charter calls for the destruction of the State of Israel;” “Hamas has killed hundreds of Israelis and dozens of Americans in rocket attacks and suicide bombings;” and “innocent Israeli civilians are indiscriminately targeted by Hamas rocket attacks.”
With 166 co-sponsors, (local congressman Scott Garrett was one of the co-sponsors), the resolution “reaffirms its support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel;” “condemns the unprovoked rocket fire at Israel;” and “calls on Hamas to immediately cease all rocket and other attacks against Israel.”
In the Senate, Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced a similar resolution expressing support for Israel.
S. Res. 498, which had 41 co-sponsors as of when I am writing this, “reaffirms the United States’ support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel;” “condemns the unprovoked rocket fire at Israel;” “calls on Hamas to immediately cease all rocket and other attacks against Israel;” and “calls on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the unity governing arrangement with Hamas and condemn the attacks on Israel.”
“Israel has a right to self-defense in the face of indiscriminate violence and vicious attacks against civilian populations,” said Senator Menendez. “It is an appalling but often-used tactic by Hamas to launch rockets indiscriminately at Israeli population centers. Nobody should be surprised that a terrorist organization is once again resorting to terror to harm innocent Israelis, and exposing Palestinian civilians to danger while doing so. Hamas is a terrorist organization that rejects a two-state solution and celebrates the kidnapping and murder of innocent civilians; it cannot be a partner in a Palestinian unity government.”
In addition to Senator Menendez’s outspoken advocacy on this issue, New Jersey’s junior Senator, Cory Booker, also supports the Senate resolution expressing Israel’s right to defend itself and will officially sign on as a co-sponsor, according to his office.
Aside from the supportive stances taken by Congress in the form of public resolutions, there is another significant way in which Washington lawmakers have demonstrated their unwavering support for Israel.
We have all watched in awe as rocket after rocket fired by Hamas militants gets shot down by Israel. The Iron Dome missile defense system has proven to be a game-changer in the latest conflict. As Ambassador Dermer noted during the conference call last week, the success rate of the Iron Dome in intercepting incoming rockets during the November 2012 conflict was approximately 84%; in the latest conflict, the success rate is even higher, with some estimates as high as 90%.
In quickly recognizing whether an incoming rocket is headed for a populated area or an empty field, the Iron Dome, which has been in operation since 2011, is able to discern when it should deploy its interceptors and when it is unnecessary to do so. The technology of the Iron Dome is a military marvel that is responsible for saving countless lives.
The Iron Dome is exceptional, but it also expensive. Each Iron Dome battery costs approximately $50 million and each missile is estimated to cost between $60,000 and $100,000. Thankfully, the United States has stepped in and come to Israel’s aid.
The U.S. provided $235 million in 2014 for research, development, and production of the Iron Dome. That comes after the United States invested $211 million in 2013 and $205 million in 2010 in the Iron Dome. In addition, during Operation Protective Edge, the U.S. has pledged another $429 million for the Iron Dome.
When it comes to the Iron Dome, we are extremely fortunate that President Obama and Congress have been ready, willing, and able to provide funding for this life-saving system.
With Israel under fire from Hamas, it is gratifying to know that we have friends in Congress – Democrats and Republicans alike – who not only talk about supporting Israel, but actually back up their words with action. As it endeavors to eliminate the Hamas terrorist threat, Israel is thankfully not alone.
N. Aaron Troodler is an attorney and principal of Paul Revere Public Relations, a public relations and political consulting firm. Visit him on the Web at TroodlersTake.blogspot.com, www.PaulReverePR.com, or www.JewishWorldPR.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @troodler
By N. Aaron Troodler, Esq.