Statement in Support of the Jewish Community, Israel and the US-Israel and MA-Israel Relationship
I am an unwavering supporter of the State of Israel, the United States-Israel relationship, and the Massachusetts-Israel relationship. As the United States’ most important ally in the Middle East, and the sole democracy in the Middle East, I am committed to strengthening, protecting, and promoting a strong US-Israel and Massachusetts-Israel relationship because it is in the best security, economic, and human interests of the United States.
Supporting and Strengthening the Jewish Community
For almost 20 years, I have dedicated myself to supporting and strengthening the Jewish community here in Boston, around the country, in Israel, and throughout the world. I have worked tirelessly to build a strong relationship between the United States and Israel and Massachusetts and Israel. I have also worked to foster collaborative relationships between the Jewish community and diverse ethnic and religious groups locally, nationally, and globally to advance issues of common interest. In addition, I have worked hard to deepen the relationship between the Jewish Diaspora and Israel, as I believe that one needs a strong Jewish Diaspora to have a strong Israel and vice versa.
I have worked to defend Israel’s place in the world and to combat hatred, bigotry, racism, Islamophobia, and Anti-Semitism in all forms against all people. I have also spent significant time helping Israel try to resolve some of its biggest social challenges, including working on unemployment issues among the Haredim, Israeli-Arab and Ethiopian sectors, youth at risk, adults with disabilities, economic development, Ethiopian absorption, and the engagement and empowerment of young leadership. I have visited Israel close to 50 times, met my wife at Hebrew University while studying abroad during my Junior Year in College, and have served on the Boards and Committees of over 10 different non-profit organizations in the Jewish community.
In particular, I helped create the Young Jewish Leaders Council under Combined Jewish Philanthropies, which for the first time ever, brought together all 40+ young Jewish adult organizations in the Greater Boston area to network, collaborate, share best practices, build skills and strengthen the community. I also helped create the young leadership division of the American Jewish Committee – ACCESS – both in Boston and nationally, which launched the first ever national Jewish-Latino and Jewish-Muslim task forces for young adults. While working as an attorney at Mintz Levin, I was an active member of its Israel Business Practice, where I assisted Israeli companies trying to penetrate the US market, which in turn helped to add jobs, increase tax revenues and provide economic and social benefit to the United States, and in particular Massachusetts.
Due to my work in the Jewish community, I have been recognized by the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts with their K’lal Israel Award and by Combined Jewish Philanthropies with their Ben Gurion Society Leadership, Circle of Excellence, Young Leadership and Chai in the Hub Awards.
As a child, I attended Temple Beth Shalom in Milton, was a camper at Camp Ramah in New England, a student at Prozdor at Hebrew College, and a member of Hillel at Middlebury College. My three oldest children attended Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston for many years, and all four or my children attended Jewish Community Center Preschool. My family are proud members of the Washington Square Minyan and Kehillath Israel in Brookline.
United States-Israel Relationship
The US-Israel relationship is one of the most important relationships for peace and stability in the world. I will work hard to maintain and strengthen that special relationship.
Just like the United States, Israel will continue to wrestle with its challenges and imperfections. Similarly, although I might not always agree with every position taken by the Israeli government and I might be personally critical of those positions from time to time, I fully support and applaud Israel’s efforts to try to overcome those challenges. It is precisely why I am so loyally committed to Israel thriving as a secure, Jewish, and Democratic state and to the strengthening of the US-Israel relationship.
At a time when our President and others are trying to make Israel a wedge issue and claim progressives and Democrats don’t love Israel or are not as supportive of Israel as Republicans, I stand proud and tall as a Democrat to personally demonstrate that is not accurate. For to be progressive is to be a supporter of Israel and the US-Israel relationship. Being progressive means making progress through advancements in science, technology, economic development, and public policy, which improves the overall human condition and leads to positive social change. Israeli economic, scientific, medical, environmental, technological, and educational innovation and entrepreneurship have significantly benefited the United States, improved the overall human condition, and made positive social change globally. Israeli advances have also reshaped businesses, increased people’s physical and financial livelihood, and saved lives.
Not only do the United States and Israel share common interests and values of democracy, freedom, and justice, but millions of families have loved ones living in both countries, becoming our neighbors, friends and colleagues in the United States and helping strengthen our communities. As a result of Israel’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, it is in the United States best health, economic, strategic and environmental interest to continue to encourage and promote joint US-Israel programs in renewable energy, technology, cybersecurity, health care, education, transportation, water, agriculture, and intelligence gathering.
I am also a supporter and advocate for a strong Massachusetts-Israel relationship. Massachusetts has become a top destination for Israeli entrepreneurs, innovators, students, and professionals, which in turn has benefited the Massachusetts economy and community. Approximately 40% of Israelis who start a business in the United States, start them in Massachusetts. Many of these Israelis have become our neighbors and productive members of our Commonwealth, helping to strengthen the communities in which they live.
Israeli innovation has become a key driver of the Massachusetts economy, where more than 200 Israeli businesses are now located, generating more than $9 billion in revenue and more than $18 billion in economic benefits to the Commonwealth each year, totaling approximately 4% of the Commonwealth’s GDP. These approximately 200 businesses have directly employed more than 9,000 people in Massachusetts and supported more than 27,000 jobs. Massachusetts and Israel are closely aligned because they share common values and interests which have significantly benefited the Commonwealth. Because it is good for our community and our economy, I look forward to helping expand and deepen the Massachusetts-Israel relationship.
US Security Assistance to Israel
I will fight to ensure Israel always has the right, ability, and resources to defend itself and to ensure all Israeli citizens of all faiths can live in peace and security. Israel is surrounded by enemies, including Iran and its terrorist proxies, that seek to wipe it off the face of the earth and to create chaos and destruction throughout the Middle East and around the world. Providing security assistance to Israel is in the United States best security and economic interests. Israel is a stable, reliable, and democratic ally to the United States in a strategically important region of the world.
The United States needs Israel to be safe and secure to defend its own vital national interests. That is why it is in the United States interest to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge, including funding for Israel’s missile defense systems like Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and the Arrow-3. In addition to Israel sharing its military technology with the United States, which is then deployed by the US military to protect its own troops and citizens, the vast majority of foreign security assistance given to Israel is also spent in the United States with US companies, helping to create jobs, provide tax revenues and raise living standards. I will fight to make sure the United States maintains its security commitment to Israel, without placing any additional conditions on the continuation of that commitment.
Israel has also been a key partner to the United States in intelligence gathering and sharing, which in turn has helped protect both the United States and Israel from enemies around the world. Further military and intelligence cooperation with Israel is in the best national security interest of the United States. Without a secure Israel, the chances for peace between the Palestinian Authority and Israel is also less likely.
In addition to advocating for foreign aid to Israel, I will also fight for continued United States aid to the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, and Jordan. These funds are critical to the Palestinian Authority’s state-building and security efforts in the West Bank, which helps raise the standard of living for Palestinians and fosters the conditions necessary to bring about a two-state solution and counter terrorism. Without such aid to Egypt and Jordan, those countries might easily become weaker and fall prey to Iran’s terrorist proxies or other terrorist groups around the world, which in turn would put the United States’ national interests in jeopardy and threaten the very existence of Israel.
I strongly support limiting Iranian influence in the region, especially in Syria and Lebanon, and will fight to ensure Iran never has nuclear capabilities. Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Iran continues to test ballistic missiles, abuse human rights, and provide weapons, including rockets and missiles to its terrorist proxies all over the region – in places such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Gaza, and Yemen – in order to attack Israel, destabilize the Middle East and bring chaos around the world. Iran has called for the extinction of Israel and the destruction of the United States. Until Iran stops sponsoring terrorism, I will fight to ensure that it is never able to import or export any advance weapons. As the leading disruptor of Middle East peace and stability, I will fight to make sure that the United States Arms embargo against Iran is not lifted. A lifting of the embargo would likely increase an arms race in the Middle East, which would only benefit its terrorist proxies, especially Hamas and Hezbollah. I also support encouraging our international friends to follow in the footsteps of the United States and designate Hezbollah for what it is – a terrorist organization.
Regardless of whether the United States is part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or any future agreement with Iran, the United States must hold Iran accountable for its human rights abuses, threats against our allies and attempts to destroy Israel and destabilize the region.
UN Delegitimization and the International Criminal Court
I will fight efforts to isolate, stigmatize or delegitimize Israel in international forums, including at the United Nations, where Israel is the frequent target of prejudice, bias, and hatred. Although the UN Charter calls for all member states to be treated equally, Israel has been unfairly singled out and targeted more than any other country by the UN Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly. I will fight to make sure the fundamental principles of the UN Charter are not ignored or selectively upheld to discriminate against Israel.
I also support the United States and Israel in their defense against the illegitimate attacks and targeting by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and their decision not to join the ICC. Joining the ICC would expose the United States and Israel to the ICC’s jurisdiction, allowing the ICC to target both countries, their citizens, and their military through unfair, discriminatory witch hunts, conducted by those that seek to destroy both countries.
Despite the fact the United States and Israel are not members of the ICC, Israel is still being unjustly targeted by unfair investigations, despite the court lacking jurisdiction and despite the Palestinian Authority lacking proper standing. The ICC is not the place for the Palestinian Authority to resolve its political differences with Israel, as this will set back any chance for peace. Instead, the Palestinian Authority and Israel must return to the negotiating table for there to be any chance of creating a two-state solution and achieving lasting peace.
I strongly believe in a two-state solution, two states for two peoples, existing side by side in peace, security, and mutual recognition. Israel deserves to live in peace, safety, and security, free from terror and incitement, in a state that is publicly recognized by the Palestinians and its Arab neighbors. Palestinian leaders must take action to end all forms of violence against Israel and its civilians and acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
I support the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Israel should not be the only country out of 193 member states in the United Nations to not be allowed to self determine the location of its capital.
The Palestinians must also be permitted to realize their own national aspirations in an independent, demilitarized state, and determine the location of their own capital, once borders have been agreed upon by both parties and they become a sovereign member of the UN.
I oppose unilateral action by any international entity that imposes final status solutions on either the Palestinians or Israel. The terms of lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority cannot be imposed by any international entity because true peace can only be achieved through diplomacy between the two peoples. It is critical that any peace agreement be achieved through direct, bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. I believe that the United States has an important role to play in helping Israel and the Palestinian Authority achieve the vision of two states for two peoples living side by side in peace and security because it is in the best interests of the United States, Israel, the Palestinians, and the entire world.
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)
I strongly condemn the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel and support legislation opposing BDS. As someone who has visited the West Bank, and has personally spoken to Palestinians living in the West Bank, I have seen firsthand that BDS actually hurts the Palestinian people more that it helps them because it closes the door to jobs and economic opportunities that could raise their standard of living. The very creation of the BDS campaign was meant as a way to economically wipe Israel off the face of the earth, when it became apparent that terrorist groups could not attain their goal militarily.
While many supporters of BDS today sincerely want peace, they have been the victims of lies themselves propagated by the BDS leadership who seek nothing less than the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. The goals of BDS are antithetical to United States values. BDS’ single-minded focus on Israel raises questions about its motivations and intentions, when human rights abuses and atrocities are being committed routinely in other parts of the world, but they instead choose to only focus on the sole democracy in the Middle East and sole Jewish State in the world.
BDS also undermines a two-state solution and lasting peace, by demanding concessions of one party alone, demonizing, delegitimizing and isolating Israel, and suggesting that international economic and political pressure on Israel can replace real bilateral negotiations.