I’d like to thank Rep. Mike Doyle (D-District 14) for taking the time to share his views and clarify his position vis a vis Israel in a recent op-ed for the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. I’ve had the honor and opportunity to meet with him numerous times over the last 20 years through my AIPAC lobbying efforts, and I’ve always found him to be gracious and caring when it comes to Israel’s security needs.
With that said, I cannot help but feel disappointed and shocked at Doyle’s continued support of H.R. 4391, the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act.
No one in Israel supports mistreatment of children and minors. This resolution is really not about protecting innocent children, but rather a dishonest effort by Israel’s foes to single out and demonize the Jewish state in the name of “human rights.” This resolution is only designed and written to impugn Israel’s legitimacy, potentially block already-approved funds for Israel and restrict future defense funding critical for Israel’s continued existence. While Israel should be held to a high standard, its enemies are held to no standard at all. Furthermore, it’s quite telling that many of those co-sponsoring this resolution are silent about the real abuse of children in the Middle East and throughout the Arab world.
I have no doubt that some congresspersons who support this bill, including Doyle, are deeply concerned about the rights and security of Palestinian children. I share these concerns, because the Palestinian leadership has endangered children repeatedly by placing them in harm’s way and rewarding them for attacking Israelis. While Palestinians store mortars and ammunition in schools, recruit teenage suicide bombers and see little issue with placing children as human shields at the front of violent border protests, H.R. 4391 is silent with regard to the fact that many Palestinian children and young adults are purposely used by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to carry out lethal missions against Israel and then used again in their public relations efforts in the international media to demonize Israel.
Many Palestinian children are taught from a young age to hate Jews in school, that Israel is their mortal enemy which must be destroyed and that they must sacrifice their lives for this cause. These children are pawns in unrelenting terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians and the Israel Defense Forces. The Palestinian leadership abuses and uses them, depriving them of a safe childhood. This resolution will not protect these abused Palestinian children, but only further shield Hamas and the P.A. from repercussions.
I’m also concerned about Israeli children, who live under the constant threat of terror attacks. Last week, in Israel’s south near the Gaza border, Israeli children spent their days and nights evacuating to bomb shelters, as parents had less than 15 seconds to get them to safety before hundreds of rockets from Gaza potentially hit their communities. Here, H.R. 4391 matters, as its ultimate yet unintended consequence of diminishing U.S. funding would threaten the existence of these Israeli children. Without U.S. defense funding, Israel wouldn’t have the Iron Dome and David’s Sling to stop missiles fired by Hamas militants before they hit Israeli communities.
Doyle is well aware (and has clearly stated) that he is a great friend of Israel and that Israel is a country that shares our country’s morals and values. Palestinian leaders, on the other hand, have not shown much interest in achieving peace. Their efforts have been devoted to destroying Israel and murdering its Jewish population. Any two-state solution cannot be realized while Palestinian leaders continue to promote hate, bigotry and intolerance against Israel and the Jewish people.
H.R. 4391 emboldens the outrageous lies and fake news promoted by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. While Israel is certainly not perfect and should be held accountable as any other country would, the answer to protecting Palestinian children is not to pull the funds necessary for Israel to protect itself while ignoring atrocities perpetrated by the Palestinian leadership.
Doyle must decide who he trusts: a country that has faced insurmountable obstacles over the last 70 years, whose leaders have extended an olive branch to their Palestinian counterparts over and over again in the hopes of reaching a lasting peace, and whose government shares the same values of democracy, equality, and freedom as the United States, or Palestinian leaders, who have shown that they prefer violence and terrorism to peace, and who manipulate their children, the media and our government?
Since 1948, Israel has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress. Our political leaders, including Doyle, have recognized the critical role that Israel plays as an ally, the precarious position that Israel is in in the Middle East, and the shared values that exist between the United States and Israel. Today, we see some wavering of this bipartisan support, and we should all be concerned. We must not allow Israel’s existence to become a partisan issue, and we must not allow Israel’s foes here or abroad to use Palestinian children as pawns in their ultimate goal of destroying Israel.
I hope and pray that one day, Israelis will live in the safety and security that they so desperately want, and that Israeli and Palestinian children will be able to freely and openly play together without any fear, mistrust or preconceived notions. Unfortunately, with the current precarious security situation in the Middle East, that day is not today.
I respectfully request that Doyle reconsider his decision to support this bill, and remove his name from it. PJC