08/10/2010 12:47 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Frenetic Drive to Show Support for Israel Endangers Israel

The frenetic drive among members of Congress to demonstrate pro-Israel
sentiment with more bombast and zeal than the next Representative has
led to an absurd situation: Two letters and a resolution are now
circulating in the House that not only fall well to the right of
mainstream Israeli and Jewish American opinion and American policy - but
advocate action which would lessen Israel's security and ultimately
endanger the democratic Jewish state.

Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Anthony Weiner have called on colleagues
to sign a letter protesting the State Department's recent status upgrade
of the office representing the Palestinian government in the US. A
mostly symbolic move, it was taken (without objection from the Israeli
Government) to further a negotiated two-state resolution to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In lambasting the upgrade, Ros-Lehtinen's and Weiner's letter urges the
administration to "kick the PLO out of the US once and for all" - and as
such, demands not only that the US obstruct the Palestinians' path to
self-determination, but that it unwind nearly two decades of diplomacy.
Given that a two-state solution is the clearly stated goal of both the
United States and Israel, it furthermore raises serious doubts about
whether the signers of this letter support American and Israeli policy.
Moreover, the members' efforts put her squarely at odds with those of
the US and Israeli government as they push to restart direct
negotiations with the very entity Ros-Lehtinen and Weiner aim to

But this isn't just a question of policy. Simply put: Demographic trends
between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River mean that working against
a two-state agreement means working against Israel's future as a
democratic homeland for the Jewish people.

A letter authored by Rep. Scott Garrett could speed up that destructive
timeline considerably, however. Backed by the Zionist Organization of
America -an organization categorically opposed to a Palestinian state in
the West Bank and Gaza- Garrett's letter criticizes an imaginary version
of President Obama's handling of the Iranian nuclear program. The
Congressman asserts that, "your Administration has been pursuing a
fruitless course of diplomacy for over 18 months, despite the long
history of other unsuccessful outreach to the regime... Clearly, the
'engagement' by your administration has failed."

The most disingenuous aspect of this letter, however, is not its effort
to suggest that the President doesn't plan to impose the sanctions Obama
has already made clear he intends to further strengthen- rather it is
Garrett's gross attempt at rewriting the administration's history of
successful diplomacy . The Obama administration has achieved what the
extreme right wing deemed impossible and apparently still hopes to deny:
the toughest UN Security Council Sanctions on Iran ever. Without this
success, Iran would not be at odds with its traditional trading
partners, and would thus be easily able to circumvent unilateral US

Moreover, it's shocking that any Member of Congress would declare
themselves "troubled" by Obama's commitment to seeking a diplomatic
solution to the crisis. No true friend of Israel would prefer a
military confrontation with Iran that - if President Ahmadinejad's
threats are to be taken seriously - could trigger horrific attacks on
Israelis by Iranian rockets and the forces of its Hezbollah and Hamas

And yet, as misinformed as Garrett's letter is, the resolution
introduced by Rep. Louie Gohmert outdoes it in promoting a nominally
"pro-Israel" agenda that would actually imperil our ally. Correctly
recognizing Israel's sovereign right to use military force to defend
itself from imminent threats-including a nuclear-armed Iran- Gohmert
takes it upon himself to second this authorization, and then go further
in actually calling for military action.

Beyond goading a democracy to launch a war that could result in
thousands of casualties, Gohmert wantonly takes a swipe at the notion of
an eventual Palestinian state: His resolution references "the Land of
Israel," a term that in the modern context is only used to refer
"Greater Israel" (the sovereign state, plus much, if not all, occupied
territory). All references to the "Land of Israel" in Congressional
resolutions in the past 20 years have contained careful qualifiers to
make clear that Congress doesn't support the construction of a "Greater
Israel" at the expense of a Palestinian state. Gohmert's resolution
contains no such qualifiers, sending a message that backers of his
resolution quite possibly don't support a two-state resolution.

The political miscalculation embodied by this trio of vehicles would be
laughable, if the policies they promote weren't so dangerous to Israeli
security, not to mention to the deeply rooted American interests in the
region. Members of Congress should work on a bipartisan basis to further
Israel's long-term security interests, not use the serious threats faced
by our ally to burnish their hawkish credentials.