When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) speaks, you often can’t decide whether to laugh or cry. Yesterday he tried out this one: “The United States of America should live up to its commitments, particularly with our friend Israel, which happens to be the only true democracy in the Middle East. We can do better and need to go further in protecting Israel … Coming to the defense of Israel is not a partisan issue … It’s an American principle.”
Well, that’s a laugher.
It is Reid who single-handedly blocked the Menendez-Kirk sanctions. A large bipartisan majority was prepared to vote on conditional sanctions to give the administration additional leverage against Iran. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) argues vigorously for such sanctions to this day. The sole reason there is not a vote is that Reid puts partisan loyalty to the White House above national security (the United States’ as well as Israel’s.)
If Israel should be beyond partisan concern, then he should join in and bring to the floor a resolution co-sponsored by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) that: “1) strongly condemns the brutal and illegal tactic by Hamas and other terrorist organizations of using innocent civilians as human shields; 2) calls on the international community to recognize the grave breaches of international law; 3) places responsibility for launching the rocket attacks on Hamas and other terrorist organizations; 4) supports the sovereign right of the Government of Israel to defend its territory and stop the rocket attacks on its citizens; 5) expresses condolences to the families of the innocent victims on both sides of the conflict; 6) supports Palestinian civilians who reject Hamas and all forms of terrorism, desiring to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors; and 7) calls on Mahmoud Abbas to condemn the use of innocent civilians as human shields by Hamas and other terrorist organizations.”
Will Reid bring it to the floor? We’ll see.
What about another resolution put forth by Republican senators that would require the administration bring any final deal with Iran to the Congress for approval, bar further extensions of the interim deal and mandate re-imposition of sanctions if Iran cheats on its deal? If Israel isn’t a partisan issue, surely Reid will bring that to a floor for a vote as well. (Many top Democrats have backed these kinds of provisions in the past.)
If Reid really thinks Israel is such a critical issue, he might have joined with a huge bipartisan delegation to the National Leadership Assembly, which was sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. In attendance were House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio); incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.); Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.); Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.); House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.); Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa; and House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). But it’s not too late for Reid to concur with the president of AIPAC, Robert Cohen, who declared, “As a first step in any agreement, Hamas must stop its relentless terror attacks. The Iranian-backed group must be prevented from carrying out further attacks, both via rocket and tunnel. As Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken said last week, we must seek the demilitarization of Gaza. Disarming terror groups like Hamas is critical for lasting peace and stability. Let us be very clear. There can be no true peace until Hamas is disarmed.” That would make clear that Reid puts bipartisan support for Israel over loyalty to the hapless secretary of state and the president, who are bent on an immediate truce with little concern for destruction of the tunnels and rockets.
Talk is cheap. If Reid means what he says he should at the very least get out of the way so that members of both parties can support Israel, and in turn the United States, in our joint national security concerns.