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Copyright © 2019 The American Israel Public Affairs Committee

Editorial: The U.S.-Israel Relationship Must Transcend Partisan Politics

In this increasingly partisan era, building a bipartisan pro-Israel consensus has become more challenging. But given the threats and the opportunities that the United States and Israel share, strong support must come from both sides of the aisle. At this year’s AIPAC Policy Conference, we will join together to demonstrate that the pro-Israel community is a big tent composed of politically, racially, religiously and geographically diverse individuals—and each of us is essential to building the lasting consensus that supports Israel.

For decades, AIPAC has worked to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship by encouraging bipartisan support in Congress. This approach ensures success in passing legislation that keeps Israel and America safe, no matter what party is in control. In addition, this approach enables success in the Senate, where bills that are filibustered require the support of three-fifths of its members to pass—a number no party has controlled for the last 40 years.

Today, more than ever, maintaining and strengthening bipartisan support for Israel is a central responsibility of the American pro-Israel community. As partners in pro-Israel activism, AIPAC members recognize and appreciate that our common success is predicated on the political engagement of fellow members with a range of political affiliations—in many cases, affiliations that differ from our own. Together, we ensure that our country’s support for Israel transcends partisan politics.

Shared Values and Ideals

Today in the United States, advocacy on behalf of a safe and secure Israel is embraced by Americans from all walks of life. Grounded in the core values that both countries strive to uphold, pro-Israel activism is a unifying force for Americans of diverse backgrounds, religions and political affiliations.

As Americans, we stand with Israel because we stand for democracy. We stand with Israel because we stand for equality, for human rights and for the rule of law. Israel’s Declaration of Independence guarantees “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” Accordingly, Israel guarantees freedom of speech, press and religion, and it protects the rights of all of its citizens, including women, minorities and members of the LGBTQ community.

Israel stands alone as a beacon of stability, freedom and justice in a Middle East rife with authoritarianism, oppression and instability. The United States has a moral obligation to stand with Israel in its pursuit of the values and ideals that America, too, has strived to embody since its founding.

Common Threats, Common Goals

The United States and Israel also share common challenges, both in the Middle East and beyond, including combatting terrorism, WMD proliferation, money laundering, instability, water scarcity, energy insecurity and cyberwarfare. The U.S.-Israel strategic relationship is a key pillar of America’s Middle East security framework, and this partnership is constantly growing and expanding into new areas.

Israeli advancements and innovations improve and preserve lives in America and around the world. Israelis have brought cutting-edge water technology to drought-stricken Africa and California, administered natural disaster relief to Nepal and Houston, and supplied life-saving technologies used by U.S. service members serving overseas.

Groundbreaking legislation passed in 2014, the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act (SPA), redoubled the ability of both countries to further their common interests. Stating in law that Israel is a “major strategic partner” of the United States, the bill expanded bilateral cooperation to address a wide array of issues facing both nations, including defense, intelligence, homeland security, cybersecurity, energy, water, agriculture and alternative fuel technologies. America and Israel are both strengthened by confronting these challenges together.

Bipartisan support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is the linchpin that has brought these and other critical achievements to fruition—bipartisan support for security assistance to Israel, for SPA and for standing with Israel as she defends her citizens. The continued adoption of critical, bipartisan pro-Israel legislation sends a resounding message that the United States supports its ally Israel.

The Way Forward

It is incumbent upon the American pro-Israel community to cultivate strong, bipartisan support for Israel. We must remind our elected representatives that Israel is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue; it is an American issue. The U.S.-Israel partnership is beneficial to all Americans, regardless of their party affiliation. Despite their differences on many other issues, both parties can find common ground in their support for Israel.

From serving as a force for good in the world to remaining a beacon of democracy and stability in a rapidly destabilizing Middle East, Israel promotes U.S. values that are cherished by all Americans, regardless of their party affiliation. By prioritizing the U.S.-Israel relationship over party politics—as hundreds of America’s lawmakers from both parties will do by attending next month’s AIPAC Policy Conference—the United States and Israel will be safer, stronger and more secure.

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