Rick Perry: Stand With Israel


Stand With IsraelIt’s difficult to imagine the terror that the people of Israel must live with every day. For Israelis, at any given moment a missile might be detected, rocketing toward a residential neighborhood; a bomber might detonate him or herself in a crowded public place; and terrorists sent by Hamas might infiltrate their borders through secret tunnels to kidnap or kill their children.

Thousands of miles away, it might be convenient to criticize Israel for having the temerity to defend itself against these murderous terrorist attacks.

Those of us who have been to Israel and have seen the effects of these attacks first-hand have a deeper understanding of what the Israeli people are being forced to endure.

On my own visits to Israel, I’ve visited with families who were afraid to let their children play outside, and seen the fortified playgrounds where they can go. I’ve seen the rubble of structures brought down by missile strikes and looked in the eyes of people who live with the threat of violence day-in and day-out.

The conflict between Hamas and Israel is merely one part of a much-larger conflict, one with far-ranging implications that can affect the lives of every person on the globe.

To begin, anyone tempted to suggest Israel has used a disproportionate amount of force to defend itself needs to remember the origins of this latest round of violence. It’s Hamas that continued to launch rockets, despite Israel’s willingness to discuss and abide by multiple cease-fires. It’s Hamas that uses Palestinians as human shields to protect its leaders and its arsenals, and to preserve its extensive system of tunnels. And it’s Hamas that would, if given the opportunity, take the life of every Israeli within range of its thousands of rockets.

Israel needs more than our passive support—it needs our vigorous support. The overwhelming success of the Iron Dome defense system has been the only thing to prevent the deaths of thousands of Israelis, and changes nothing in Hamas’ deadly intent. And under the circumstances, Israel’s response has been anything but disproportionate. In fact, Israel has taken extraordinary – even unprecedented – measures to protect as many lives as possible in its efforts to disarm and disable Hamas.

The United States must take the lead in bringing the international community together to demand the total removal of every missile in Gaza, as well as the complete destruction of the tunnel network being used by Hamas terrorists. To facilitate this, the United States must use the tools available to us diplomatically and continue to support the actions of the Israel Defense Forces. Should the international community fail to join us in sufficient numbers, the United States should block actions in the United Nations aimed at preventing Israel from defending itself.

Not only is this the right thing to do, it’s also imperative we send the message to Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations that the free world will not tolerate their lawless behavior and that aggression toward Israel and its allies can only lead to negative consequences.

That’s why it was disheartening last weekend to see the United States moving closer to Turkey and Qatar than to our traditional allies, pressing the Israelis for an immediate cease-fire instead of allowing them to finish the job.

There’s no doubt that America’s reaction to the Israeli-Gaza conflict is being watched and gauged by nations like Iran, and our failure to stand firmly beside our ally will only embolden the Islamic Republic to continue its criminal efforts to develop and build a nuclear device.

Any equivocation or perceived weakness on our part will be noticed immediately not just in Tehran, but in Moscow and Beijing as well. It can only help usher in a new nuclear arms race, one that holds the potential of becoming infinitely more frightening than the one the free world endured decades ago. Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups have demonstrated time and again that they have no regard for human life – Israeli, Palestinian or American. The possibility of individuals like that gaining access to a nuclear weapon is something we simply cannot allow.

These are the very real stakes of the conflict in Israel. While we pray that the latest cease-fire agreement holds, we need to accept that true, lasting peace can only happen with the elimination of all missiles in Gaza, the destruction of all tunnels between Gaza and Israel and the disarmament of terrorist groups.

Anything short of that will just delay the next round of conflict and encourage our enemies. Only through our resolve, and our continued dedication to the freedom and safety of the Israeli people, can we ensure that our own safety, and that of free peoples around the world, will be protected.

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