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United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank Ms. Ros-Lehtinen and Mr. Deutch for sponsoring this expertly-crafted and timely legislation.

It is also a substantive bill. It expands our relationship with our closest ally by supporting the Iron Dome, David's Sling, and Arrow-3 missile defense systems, transferring defense items to Israel, pre-positioning more military equipment in Israel that both allies would have available in a crisis, and by expanding cooperation in cyber security, energy, water, homeland security, agriculture, and alternative fuel technologies. All of these are important, and as a package they do a lot to strengthen our partnership with Israel.

Mr. Speaker, I'd like to point out Section 107, the amendment that I proposed at markup and which was accepted by the committee. It states the sense of Congress that the State Department should also increase its coordination with Israel on combating anti-Semitism.

While the State Department is doing excellent work in the fight against the unique evil of anti-Semitism, the government of Israel is going to have an indispensable perspective, experience--including tragic experience--and expertise on the Middle-Eastern security dimensions and implications of anti-Semitic incitement. Our government should be consulting, cooperating, and coordinating with them on this, benefiting from Israeli expertise.

As we see on a sickeningly regular basis, many governments in the Middle East (and elsewhere) propagate anti-Semitic incitement as an official or quasi-official state ideology--the hate that still kills. They do this in order to distract people from their own authoritarian rule and human rights abuses. This constant incitement is a major factor in the security situation in the Middle East. Last February I chaired a hearing at which we heard important testimony from Dr. Zuhdi Jasser on this subject. He made the point that it is not only Jews who suffer from this incitement, but that Muslims suffer too, as Middle-Eastern despots deploy anti-Semitism as one of their principal tools in the subjugation and impoverishment of entire Muslim peoples.

I'd like to put on the record my legislative intent that the State Department's engagement with Israel should include but also go beyond the Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. In 2004 I offered the amendment that created that office, and so I've followed and supported its excellent work. But this work is too important to be left to one small office--it should and must include the Department of State at the country team level and above.

Mr. Speaker, this amendment will add a new security dimension to our efforts to combat the pernicious evil of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is an ugly reality that won't go away by ignoring or wishing it away. Let's cooperate with Israel in this struggle as well.

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