For three millennia the land of Israel has been at the heart of the Jewish people; the Homeland from where the ancient traditions, culture and values emanated.
The state of Israel has served as a refuge for Jews the world over, a country rebuilt following the horrors of the Holocaust on the principles of freedom and democracy.
The United States and the State of Israel share a special relationship and, as a Member of Congress, I am committed to working to strengthen this relationship.
Brooklyn’s 11th Congressional District, which I have the honor to represent, has one of the largest Jewish communities outside of the State of Israel.
I understand how important the safety and security of Israel is to my constituents and the close ties that many share with the great Jewish State.
Please know that I never have nor will ever aim to undermine Israel’s security or her standing within the international community.
Recently my signature [reported by VIN News] was added to two sign-on letters that, I regret, do not reflect my record with regards to Israel.
These letters have a provocative and reactionary impact, as they do not provide a complete, and therefore accurate, picture of the situation.
They also do not offer a constructive and two-sided balanced solution to the issues facing the region.
While I do have genuine concerns about the situation within the Gaza Strip, I have also not forgotten how it developed.
Hamas, after having won democratic elections in 2006, turned Gaza into a launching pad from which to terrorize Southern Israel by firing thousands of rockets onto civilian targets.
Following the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a cross-border raid and in response to continued unprovoked shelling by Hamas, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead to defend its civilian population from further attacks.
Given this framework the onus to alleviate the situation rests not only with the State of Israel or continued U.S.
involvement in the peace process, but largely with the Palestinian people, their elected leadership and Israel’s Arab neighbors, as well as Egypt.
Israel’s Arab neighbors must also use their influence and pressure Hamas to recognize Israel’s right to exist, urge it to renounce terrorism, honor all previously accepted agreements, and become a good-faith partner that strives for peace.
Israel has engaged in unilateral moves toward peace before, notably the complete evacuation and dismantling of settlements from the Gaza Strip, and was rewarded with a Hamas-dominated adjacent territory that rained rockets upon its civilian population.
No state should, or would, tolerate continued attacks and the deliberate targeting of civilians.
An improved situation within the Gaza Strip would work to reduce the likelihood that its young population will grow up in a radicalized environment that could, in turn, pose a threat to Israel, our Arab allies and the United States.
A Gaza Strip where education can thrive and an economically vibrant society can take root, providing the citizens of Gaza with an alternative to the hateful rhetoric of radicals, is in the best interest of all involved.
However to achieve this end, multiple parties must commit and work to bring about our shared goal of a lasting peace.
Currently, Israel finds itself confronted with a belligerent Iran that is not only rapidly pursuing nuclear weapons, but also rearming Hezbollah and Hamas which sit on Israel’s northern and southern borders respectively.
Given the multi-faceted security threats that Israel faces, I added my name to a letter to President Obama encouraging him to adhere to the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding signed between then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledging $30 billion in security assistance over the next 10 years.
I have always believed, and continue to believe that the best way to bring about peace is through coalition building and negotiations in which all sides are brought to the table.
Unfortunately, these letters are uneven in their application of pressure and do not sufficiently present a balanced approach/path to peace.
Please know that I will continue to be the strong and unwavering supporter of the State of Israel as I have been throughout my entire public life while working with the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to ameliorate human suffering wherever it may exist.
I encourage any of my constituents to reach out to my office to share their thoughts and concerns with me throughout my tenure in the House of Representatives and look forward to continue to work with you in the future.
CONGRESSWOMAN YVETTE D. CLARKE
REPRESENTING NEW YORK’S 11th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
New York’s 11th Congressional District representing Brownsville, Ocean Hill, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Borough Park. Park Slope,
Kensington, Carroll Gardens, Prospect Heights, Lefferts Gardens, Grand Army Plaza, Windsor Terrace, Flatland, Midwood