This past week I had the tremendous opportunity to travel with Majority Leader Eric Cantor and a number of my House colleagues to Israel. Over the course of the trip, I was struck by the many threats Israel faces, and also by some of the parallels between our two great nations. I do not simply mean the shared culture and democratic principles, but also the constant threat from terror and the need for a secure border. Our strong relationship allows an exchange of information and technology that should be leveraged to advance our mutual interests.
Maintaining this close relationship with Israel is of critical importance to the United States as they are and will continue to be our strongest ally in the Middle East. I admire their ability to stand strong as the only beacon of democracy in a very hostile region.
I met with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as the chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority. We discussed the new peace negotiations that began last week, and the commitment of both sides to the process. Netanyahu also spoke very passionately about the existential threat posed by Iran and its drive for nuclear weapons capability. A nuclear Iran is a threat not only to Israel and their Arab neighbors in the region, but poses a significant long-term threat to the United States. I share the prime minister’s view that it is in our interest to do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear capability.
I also talked to two parents living in Sderot — a town in southern Israel that is under constant rocket attack from the Gaza. I will never forget hearing the pain in one mother’s voice as she described the psychological impact on her children. How long would America put up with such a threat if one of our cities was being fired upon like this? Not very long.
I also visited an outpost in the Golan Heights. As we were being briefed by a member of the Israeli Defense Force, we heard artillery fire and saw plumes of smoke from the civil war raging below us in Syria.
It is impossible to drive the short distance from the Mediterranean to Jordan and not understand the unique security concerns Israel faces. As your elected Representative, I will always be a passionate defender of Israel and I will do everything in my power to strengthen the partnership between our two nations. Our two countries share a common core set of values including free speech, and a commitment to liberty, the rule of law, democracy, and free markets.
One thing that Israel places a primary focus on, and something that the U.S. can learn a lot from, is border security. I traveled into the West Bank and over to the border crossing with Jordan to see firsthand the manner in which this security is implemented. Through a number of innovative uses of technology and the deployment of a comprehensive plan, the Israelis have managed to increase security while still allowing movement for commerce. I understand that the U.S. has a significantly larger international border to contend with, but it is unconscionable that we do not have a comprehensive border security strategy. Any debate on immigration reform must contain this critical component. I’m proud to be a cosponsor of H.R. 1417, the Border Security Results Act, which forces DHS to establish such a plan, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to incorporate lessons learned in Israel when we return in September. As Chairman of the Transportation Security Subcommittee of the Committee on Homeland Security, I also took the time to tour Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv and meet with Israeli transportation security officials. By examining several key issues, including intelligence collection, screening techniques, technology deployment, and threat analysis, I was able to greatly enhance my knowledge of international commercial and passenger aviation issues that are vital to our security and economy.
As a nation facing continued attacks from its enemies, Israel has adopted a successful approach to transportation security. By touring and observing the airport security operations, I was able to better understand the challenges that the United States and Israel face in the War on Terror and the resources that we have at our disposal to confront these threats. Our longstanding cooperation with Israel allows us to face common threats and advance our common commitment to democracy and freedom.
— U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson represents the 8th Congressional District. He can be reached at 704-786-1612.