A few weeks ago, Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan introduced legislation, along with fellow Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, that would block the sale of missiles to Israel.
The most recent war between Israel and Hamas ended shortly after the legislation was introduced when both parties agreed to a cease-fire. The war had begun a week and a half earlier when Hamas began launching rockets throughout Israel, including at Israel’s main population centers, including Tel Aviv. Hamas’s goal was to kill as many civilians as possible. Contrary to Hamas’s approach, Israel's military intentionally took extraordinary action to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza.
Hamas, which the U.S. has designated a terrorist organization, took over Gaza forcefully when it overthrew the Palestinian Authority in 2007, about a year and a half after Israel had turned Gaza over to Palestinian rule. Hamas has built up a significant military presence, with much of its military hardware coming from Iran. Hamas’ charter includes destruction of the state of Israel as one of its objectives, while Iran also supports destruction of the Jewish state.
Israel is a tiny country, about the size of New Jersey. Its population is about 9.2 million people with about 20% being Israeli Arabs. The vast majority of the remainder of Israel’s population (approximately 74% of the total population) are Jewish, with many of the early arrivals being Holocaust survivors and many later arrivals fleeing anti-Semitism in their home country.
Since Israel’s founding in 1948, it has survived the many wars with its Arab neighbors, but the great danger still exists. During the most recent war, Hamas achieved far more of its objectives than it had during its previous three wars with Israel. Its rockets were consistently able to reach into the central and northern portions of Israel with greater precision than previously.
The underlying dispute between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors has been impossible to solve. The destruction of the state of Israel, whether by Hamas, Iran or Hezbollah, would be a genocide perhaps unequaled in history, killing even more Jews than Hitler.
In the face of this situation, Pocan, Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib introduced legislation that would block the sale of missiles to Israel. Those weapons are critical to America’s stated position of maintaining Israel’s military superiority. This support not only benefits Israel, it also makes America a safer place, since Israel fights terrorism that might otherwise reach our shores.
At the same time that Hamas consistently shoots rockets into Israel aiming to kill Israeli civilians, Iran is rapidly working to achieve nuclear capability, thereby making its objective of destroying Israel far more realistic.
As a Jew, I am both scared and frustrated. While Israelis are confident in their army, the threat of annihilation has permitted the right wing Israeli government to stay in power. As a liberal, I find many of the right-wing policies objectionable, including Israel’s treatment of the many Gazans who yearn for peace and do not support Hamas’s actions.
The Pocan-sponsored resolution would weaken Israel militarily, giving Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah a greater chance of success. The signal the proposed legislation sent was that we support the weakening of Israel’s military superiority even if the end result is the destruction of the state of Israel and the conceivable murder of over 7 million Jews. The proposed legislation coming from our elected representative is appalling.
The question remains: Did Mark Pocan really intend to do what he just did?
Harvey Temkin is a retired Madison attorney who currently winters in Israel. He has a son, daughter-in-law and two precious grandchildren who live on a kibbutz in northern Israel.
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