Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) took the floor at the closing of AIPAC’s 2019 conference on March 26, 2019. While he spoke forcefully for the US-Israel alliance and the need to fight antisemitism in all of its manifestations from the right and the left, he softened his tone when it came to Palestinian Arabs. At 4:20 of his remarks, he said the following about Israel responding to rocket attacks from Gaza:
“Israel has every right to defend herself, to hold her perpetrators accountable, and to defend the safety and security of her people.”
Israel does not defend itself as a right, but an OBLIGATION. A government is meaningless if its primary purpose is not to actively and forcefully defend its citizens and borders from attacks. Menendez calling the response of Israel a “right” softens the role of the Israeli government. The government has a “right” to engage in trade policy with another country. It has a “right” to decide who to let into the country. But defense is not a “right” which may or may not be acted upon; defense is an obligation – and the primary one – for every government in the world.
Menendez similarly made another comment softening the lines in the Arab-Israeli Conflict. At 5:20, Menendez said the following:
“Hamas has hoodwinked the people of Gaza who remain oppressed by terrible economic hardship and increasing political crackdowns.”
Why did Menendez strip the Gazans of responsibility for their situation and paint them as suffering victims? Hamas isn’t simply a terrorist group like ISIS – it’s an official political party of the Palestinians, no different than the Republican and Democratic parties. The Palestinian Arabs elected Hamas to 58% of the parliament, a whopping majority, even though the Hamas Charter is the most vile antisemitic charter on the planet, calling for the death of Jews and destruction of Israel. Further, if presidential elections were held, Hamas would have beaten Fatah in every single poll, except for the most recent one in March 2019, and the only reasons for Hamas’s drop in the polls was Palestinians loving Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to soften his stance on paying the families of terrorists who murder Israelis, and Arab anger over Hamas’s crackdown on protests. But make no mistake: between one-third and one-half of all Palestinians still want an “armed struggle” against Israel.
Israel is not in an optional battle against a rogue terrorist entity; it is in an ongoing war against a people at its borders who want to destroy it. If a proud defender of Israel like Bob Menendez cannot articulate that clearly, how can we expect more from the ill-informed members of Congress?
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