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We must stand with Israel

I remember stepping onto the ground and lifting my face up to the warm sun. I remember walking the hills where so much history had been made, seeing the ancient ruins. I remember dipping my fingers into the fresh water of the Sea of Galilee. I’ve walked the Golan Heights with vantage points of the Syrian border. I’ve toured an Iron Dome missile battery.

I’ve had the privilege of visiting the nation of Israel multiple times. It is a beautiful place — words can hardly do it justice — and at every visit I’ve also been struck by the deep, abiding faith upon which the nation is built. Israel is strong, because it has to be, and gentle, because that is its nature.

America must stand with Israel.

A unique bond exists between the United States and Israel. It’s a bond grounded partly in the common interests our two nations share and built on a shared past.

The United States was the first nation to formally recognize the state of Israel in 1948. Since then, Israel has looked to America for diplomatic support and political encouragement. We share a determination to stand against those who would seek to destroy the nation.

And so American presidents since that point have recognized the shared values between our two nations. Israel is one of our most important friends. Our commitment to Israel’s security and prosperity has brought mutual benefit.

The ripple effect of this special relationship has brought security and greater stability to Israel’s region, the benefit of which has stretched across the world in ways we may never fully know.

Yet, today our relationship with Israel stands at its most fragile point in decades.

The Obama administration has repeatedly prioritized a relationship with nuclear-obsessed Iran; last year’s nuclear agreement threatens Israel and the entire region. The administration’s failure to respond seriously to Iran’s overt acts of aggression has led to more misbehavior and threats to Israel and the surrounding region.

The decade-long agreement that governs our security partnership with Israel is set to expire next year. The Obama administration has yet to forge a new agreement with Israel, and recent talks suggest that the administration wants to fix the amount of support so it can’t be adjusted by Congress.

Grave threats face the free world. Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons is clear. Its malicious activity in the Arabian Gulf, including its recent detainment of 10 U.S. sailors, gives a sample of its aggressive nature.

At the same time, Islamic extremists want nothing more than to see Israel’s destruction.

The president’s quest to build a legacy of assuaging relationships with hostile nations comes at the expense of a long-standing allied relationship.

To allow the American commitment to Israel to wane is not just shortsighted – it is detrimental to security and U.S. interests in the region. Our message to the rest of the world must be crystal clear — we will never turn our back on Israel or our other allies.

We have to take a strong stand against nations like Iran that seek to do Israel harm. I continue to be concerned that we are too lenient with Iran. I remain a strong opponent of the administration’s dangerous nuclear deal and weak response in the face of Iran’s aggression.

Our nation has always set a high bar for our foreign policy. Part of that standard has been maintaining our most critical allied relationships. I will not allow America to turn our back on one of our closest friends.

We need to reaffirm, not reevaluate, our relationship with Israel. We need to view our relationship with Israel as unbreakable, not dissolvable.

Israel is an anchor of stability – for the region, our national security, and the world.

Congressman J. Randy Forbes represents Virginia’s Fourth District, which includes Suffolk, in the U.S. House of Representatives. Visit his website at forbes.house.gov.