The Congressional Israel Victory Caucus is Launched, with Plenty of Fanfare
Washington DC: April 28, 2017. (PCP) Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Bill Johnson (R-OH) officially launched the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus (CIVC) on April 27 on Capitol Hill. Hosted in an over-filled hearing room, multiple members of Congress and leaders from the Middle East Forum (MEF) discussed a new approach for the U.S. in the Middle East. Congressmen Keith Rothfus (R-PA), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), and Alex Mooney (R-WV) rounded out the session.
"Israel has been at war with its immediate neighbors over its right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people for nearly 70 years," said Congressman Johnson. "It is our view that Israel has been victorious in this war, and that this reality must be recognized in order for any peace to be achieved between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors." He added, "I am also pleased to see America's voice of strength and principle holding firm against an anti-Israel agenda at the United Nations."
The caucus calls for a new U.S. approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending the emphasis on Israel making "painful concessions" and instead putting the onus of responsibility on Palestinian leaders to end their calls to incitement and officially recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
"With the repairing of the United States-Israel relationship under the Trump administration, we have a tremendous opportunity to build on our close friendship by furthering military and economic ties," said Congressman DeSantis. "Recognizing Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state is a condition precedent to achieving Middle East peace. The United States needs to be very clear that Israel is here to stay and those who seek Israel's destruction will earn the enmity of the United States."
Congressman DeSantis, who has oversight of American embassies around the world as chairman of the House Oversight National Security Subcommittee, talked about scheduled visit of President Donald Trump to Israel in May. He said that the timing of the trip was not an accident.
"What better time could there be to announce the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem when you are over there celebrating with our Israeli friends this very important 50th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem," Congressman DeSantis said, noting that he studied the logistics of moving of the embassy during his trip to Israel in March. "I think the announcement of that trip is a signal that it is more likely to happen than not, and sends a powerful signal to other countries around the world that America is back, and that we will stand by our allies and will not let folks cower us into not doing the right thing."
"We have a tremendous opportunity" to rebuild U.S.-Israel ties, said Rep. Ron DeSantis (right). "I see this as the beginning of a long-term campaign," said MEF President Daniel Pipes (left).
MEF President Daniel Pipes steered the panel, with continued remarks by MEF Director Gregg Roman, and reviewed the history of the conflict and the origination of the idea for a new U.S. strategy.
"I have been thinking about Israel Victory for close to twenty years, tweaking it, improving it; so it's very gratifying to me to see it emerge in this meeting as an operational plan with support from members of Congress and others," said Mr. Pipes. "I see this as the beginning of a long-term campaign and hope it fulfills the promise of what one speaker called a 'historic day'."
Following the launch event, the caucus will begin a campaign to educate members of Congress and staff by hosting briefings and hearings.
Oded Forer has made an official request within the Israeli Knesset to open a sister Israel Victory Caucus in Jerusalem, and it is hoped that the two caucuses will hold events together this July in Jerusalem to push the shared agenda forward among both governments and populations.