The United States of America has always stood as a safe haven from religious persecution. As Americans, we value the freedom to practice religion without punishment, and we stand in support of religious people around the globe. Perhaps no people throughout history have been persecuted more than the Jewish people, and as attacks on people of Jewish faith rise around the globe, it’s never been more important to support our greatest ally in the Middle East, Israel.
This month we celebrated the 71st anniversary of Israel’s establishment as a Jewish state, and we also paused on Holocaust Remembrance Day to remember the six million Jewish people who were senselessly murdered in the horrors of the holocaust. These two historical markers are close to the hearts of Jewish people around the world and remind us of their long struggle just to exist. The struggle continues, as Jewish people are targeted for their faith every day and the state of Israel has never known a single day of true peace. Just days after Holocaust Remembrance Day, militants in Gaza fired more than 600 rockets at Israel within a 48-hour period.
Unfortunately, people who want to delegitimize Israel are fighting right here in the United States against its right to exist. Some universities and companies have adopted the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which encourages people to boycott Israeli products and pressures institutions to end all business with Israeli companies. Their goal is to isolate Israel and harm their economy to undermine their sovereignty and their status as a Jewish state.
To combat this ugly movement laced with anti-Semitism, the U.S. Senate passed the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act with 77 votes and wide bipartisan support. Despite strong support in the U.S. House, Speaker Pelosi refuses to hold a vote as her party grapples with internal divisions on Israel. This week I signed the discharge petition, one of the only tools the minority party has, to force an up-or-down vote to defend Israel and the Jewish people from this discrimination campaign.
Israel may not have the support it deserves in the halls of the U.S. House of Representatives, but it has a strong ally in the White House. In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, calling to officially recognize the true capital of Israel and move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Presidents ignored the law for 22 years, despite promising action on the campaign trail. President Trump was the only one to follow through on his word, and he opened the American Embassy in Jerusalem one year ago this week.
Not only does Israel share many of our American values, it is a strategic ally and partner in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism. The Israelis frequently share valuable intelligence on Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, and its pursuit for nuclear weapons. In the face of Iranian aggression and militant groups like ISIS in the Middle East, it’s never been more important for the United States to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies in Israel.
Today it’s rare for bills to easily clear the U.S. Senate without being bogged down in arcane filibuster rules, but standing up for Israel and its right to exist has widespread support among members of both parties and the President of the United States. Our allies in Israel deserve more than just empty talk about supporting their cause, which is why I signed the discharge petition to take the anti-BDS bill from Speaker Pelosi’s desk, where it has sat untouched for three months, and bring it to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Jason Smith represents Missouri’s 8th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. Contact him at 573-335-0101 or visit https://jasonsmith.house.gov