The United States and Israel have an unbreakable bond rooted in our shared values, security interests, and religious ideals. I recently joined a bipartisan congressional delegation in Israel to gain a deeper understanding of our relationship and work to strengthen our ties.
Throughout the trip, we saw firsthand why it is so important for Israel to be able to defend itself and how U.S.-Israel security cooperation is key to stability in the Middle East as well as our safety here at home. Israel is surrounded by hostile neighbors, who, at times, have made it their sole mission to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. The Israeli people live under constant fear of rocket fire and attack from Iranian terrorist proxies like Hezbollah and Hamas who firmly believe Israel does not have the right to exist. Living in constant fear of enemy fire is terrifying, but it is the reality for the Israeli people, and Israel must be able to counter these threats. In the Gaza Strip, we visited the Iron Dome — a purely defensive system that detects and intercepts enemy rocket and missile fire. U.S. support for the Iron Dome has saved countless lives and thwarted terrorist attacks, and during our trip we reaffirmed our support for Israel’s military and self-defense operations.
Additionally, Israeli leaders and officials reiterated the importance of the U.S. not reentering the flawed and failed Iran nuclear deal. Reentry would give Iran the green light to strengthen its nuclear weapon capabilities — leaving Israel vulnerable and undermining regional security efforts. We cannot, and should not, trust or embolden Iran. We must be resolute in ensuring terrorists never gain ground to attack Israel or the U.S.
The U.S. relationship with Israel isn’t about politics. Regardless of the party in power — in either country — our relationship and shared priorities transcend the politics of the day. This was evident in our meetings with top Israeli leaders from across the political spectrum. We didn’t talk about our relationship through the lens of Democrat or Republican politics; instead, we focused on how continued security and intelligence cooperation will keep Israelis safe, promote stability in the Middle East, and protect our homeland from emerging concerns. We don’t stand with Israel as Republicans or Democrats — we stand with Israel as Americans.
As leaders, we must speak with one voice to condemn anti-Semitism in any form, and in any place. With anti-Semitism on the rise, it was important for my colleagues and I to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem and hear the stories about the over 6 million Jews and other minorities who were murdered at the hands of the Nazis. We must never forget the atrocities of the Holocaust and continue to be vigilant in our fight against anti-Semitism to ensure history never repeats itself.
The opportunity to visit holy sites throughout Israel was incredibly meaningful to me as a Christian. We prayed at the Western Wall, visited the River Jordan, where Jesus was baptized, read from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount at the Mount of Beatitudes, and worshiped at Jesus’ empty tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. My faith grounds me and guides every part of my life. I draw upon my faith for wisdom and strength in my daily life and through difficult times, and I will never forget these experiences.
During this time of international chaos, it is critical that our allies know we stand with them and that our enemies understand they will face severe consequences should they act against the interests of Americans and the rest of the free world. There has never been a more important moment to show our enduring support for the nation of Israel, and I was proud to do so on behalf of Iowans.