Congressional leadership joined 25 national Jewish organizations in a show of support on the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification.
Twenty members of Congress pledged their support for Israel, with many hoping President Donald Trump will move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, during a program celebrating Jerusalem’s 50th anniversary sponsored by the Religious Zionists of America (RZA).
“There is no separation between the United States and Israel,” proclaimed U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) during the May 17 luncheon in the Capitol.
“We will stand by Israel,” he said.
Cardin praised the progress Israel has made during the past 50 years while acknowledging that “Israel is at great risk now.” He pointed to enemies throughout the Middle East, the Palestinians’ attempt to negotiate a peace plan in the United Nations, and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The program occurred several days before Trump’s trip to Israel, when hopes were still high that he might move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) called on Trump to move the embassy, which would be “a great statement to say Israel is here to stay.”
Do not allow the Arabs to believe that Israel is “a transient state,” he said during the two-hour program, which opened with the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner,” “Hatikvah” and “Jerusalem of Gold” by three students from Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, Maryland.
Featured speaker Marty Oliner, co-president of the Religious Zionists of America, declared to loud applause that “Jerusalem has always been the capital of Israel, since the time of King David.”
Trump’s decision to include Israel in its first overseas trip “certainly shows his support,” Oliner said. However, he added, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster’s recent decision not to say that the Western Wall is in Israel, instead calling it a “policy decision,” is “a scary situation.”
“No country should be able to tell another where its capital is,” he said.
He urged everyone in attendance “to come together to ensure” that the embassy is moved.
Never forget, Oliner said, that in 1967, “none of us in this room, none of us, could have visited the holy sites.”
In his remarks, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) referred to Jerusalem as “the eternal united capital” as he vowed to fight BDS and “make sure we guarantee that Iran never ever gets nuclear weapons.”
The disparity in treatment of Palestinian refugees as compared to other refugees throughout the world was also discussed.
These refugees now are fourth and fifth generation, and are still not permitted to live elsewhere, said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).
The treatment of these refugees is used “solely as a weapon against Israel,” declared Nadler (D-N.Y.).
Nadler also called Iran “a major threat,” and said the United States must work to reduce that country’s production and stockpile of nuclear weapons. Nadler voted for the previous administration’s deal with Iran.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) expressed his support “to reining in the United Nations.” And Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) spoke out against a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Your faith and your G-d is much too small” if you favor a two-state solution, he said.
When it comes to Israel, “America should not try to be neutral,” declared Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), one of only two Jewish Republican members of the House of Representatives. Also speaking were Reps. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.), Chris Stewart (R-Utah), Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Jacky Rosen (R-Nev.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
Participating organizations included Alpha Epsilon Pi, American Jewish Congress, American Zionist Movement, American Friends of Likud, Americans for Israel and Torah (AMIT), B’nai B’rith International, Bnai Zion Foundation, Emunah of America, Hadassah, State of Israel Bonds, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Jewish National Fund, Mercaz USA, National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, National Council of Young Israel, New York Board of Rabbis, Rabbinical Council of America, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Touro College, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, World Jewish Congress, World Zionist Organization, Yeshiva University, and the Zionist Organization of America.
By Suzanne Pollak
Suzanne Pollak is the senior writer/editor at Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington. She was a reporter at The Courier Post in New Jersey and The Washington Jewish Week, and she now writes for The Montgomery Sentinel.