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COLUMN: Heed Warnings from Israel, America’s Friend and Ally

March 6, 2015
Weekly Column and Op-Ed
By Rep. Dan Newhouse

Last Tuesday, you likely heard or watched as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech to a joint session of Congress. I think it was important for all Americans to hear what the Prime Minister had to say about the potential threat posed to Israel if Iran is allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

Some disagreed with Speaker John Boehner’s decision to invite the Prime Minister without first notifying the White House since President Obama is seeking to strike a nuclear treaty with Iran, but I would focus on the substance of Netanyahu’s speech rather than the politics. I am grateful that a staunch friend of the U.S. came to speak frankly on an issue of central importance to Israeli and U.S. national security. Such invitations have traditionally been extended to trusted foreign leaders, and I am one of the many representatives who felt honored to welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak to Congress and the American people. Longstanding American support for Israel crosses party lines and shows the depth of our two countries’ solid relationship.

As one of the freest and most open societies in the Middle East, Israel shares our democratic values and supports American anti-terror goals. These are dangerous times in the Middle East, with unrest across the region compounded by the growing threat of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). The U.S. and Israel seek peace and stability in the region. Now more than ever, we could not ask for a better ally than Israel.

In contrast, Iran has been a state sponsor of thugs and terror groups, including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and terror groups Hezbollah and Hamas. Official Iranian announcements continuously threaten to “annihilate” Israel. Clearly, Iran’s expanding influence in the Middle East comes at the expense of the U.S. and our allies.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech sounded the alarm that a nuclear Iran could pose a grave threat to the U.S. and our allies in the region. Any nuclear treaty with Iran has serious implications for American and Israeli security. I could not agree more with the Prime Minister’s statement that, “to defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle and lose the war."

The presence of Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel in the House gallery during Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech stood as a powerful reminder of the horrors the Jewish people have faced in the 20th Century. As Americans, we must never forget evil’s capacity to destroy innocent lives, and we must stand against it with firm resolve.

Even as negotiations between the U.S. and Iran continue, America must continue to stand with its ally, Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s warning last week deserves sober consideration: Iran must never be allowed the capacity to manufacture a nuclear weapon because the cost could be unthinkable.