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the pulpitU.S.-Israel Relations

Career bureaucrats are undermining Israel’s global standing

President Trump and his congressional allies have treated Israel as a respected friend rather than a troublesome political liability.

The seal of the U.S. State Department. Credit: State Department.
The seal of the U.S. State Department. Credit: State Department.
Douglas Lamborn

The friendship between the United States and Israel has never been stronger. After eight years of dealing with the Obama administration’s indifference (and even hostility) to the world’s only Jewish state, particularly at the United Nations, the Trump administration’s consistent and enthusiastic support for one of our key allies in a turbulent region has been a relief. From finally moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem to scrapping the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which had supercharged Iranian terrorism throughout the region, President Trump and his congressional allies have treated Israel as a respected friend rather than a troublesome political liability.

And yet, despite the clear intentions of the top levels of the executive branch, career bureaucrats embedded throughout the State Department continue to undermine Israel’s standing among the nations. Specifically, their recent report on Palestinian terrorism has deliberately omitted entire categories of terrorist attacks committed by Palestinians against Israeli citizens. The materials they have subsequently produced are closer to propaganda than actionable data we can use to help us move closer towards the goal of achieving lasting peace in the Middle East.

The facts on the ground are clear. The Israel Defense Forces and security services reported nearly 1,700 attacks against Jews in the West Bank in 2019. The non-governmental organization Boomerang meticulously detailed 1,088 of these, listing their time, place and outcome. This material was submitted to the State Department ahead of its annual report on human rights in Israel and various territories. This data clearly details an average of four potentially life-threatening attacks every day on Israeli citizens. The math here is simple and the threat is clear.

But when the State Department report was published this year, it included less than 10 percent of those attacks on the Jewish people. Indeed, it suggested—incorrectly—that there were three times as many attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians. I condemn these attacks, but one cannot legitimately conclude that they are more numerous than the attacks emanating from Palestinian terror groups and lone-wolf actors.

It appears that the State Department’s entrenched bureaucrats relied heavily on cherry-picked stats from non-governmental organizations that are either politically left-wing or Palestinian advocacy groups, showing complete disregard for reports on crimes against Israelis. The lie-by-omission is shocking.

Why does this matter? President Trump’s pro-Israel administration has a clear view on the conflict—the current policy of refusing American taxpayers’ dollars to be handed over to the Palestinian Authority, which pays salaries for the convicted terrorists, speaks for itself. However, even the best policy proposals can be undermined by bureaucratic mischief.  We must not allow this ongoing malfeasance, which always happens to tilt in one direction, to continue poisoning Israel’s standing in the world and undermining the Trump administration’s efforts to achieve peace.

I have written a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding this matter, and look forward to working with him to ensure that the personal animus and biases of individuals at the State Department against Israel are not reflected in the Trump administration’s reporting or policy. The casual dismissal of Israel’s point of view cannot be allowed to become (or remain) the norm at the State Department. I look forward to working with Secretary Pompeo to make sure that this bureaucratic misconduct is rooted out and ended.

There are many shared concerns and mutual interests which strengthen the unique bond between the Israeli and American peoples. I have repeatedly taken concrete action in Congress to enhance this multifaceted and deeply rooted friendship. Leading the effort to pass the Taylor Force Act, for example, was an honor. I am grateful for so many friends in Israel and the United States who are working hard to keep our relationship strong.

Under the bold leadership of President Trump, the United States has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital and relocated the embassy to Jerusalem, has recognized Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights and has launched the Vision for Prosperity peace plan to bring an end to the conflict with Arab nations in the region. The latter is a plan that would see Israel establish its sovereignty over areas that lie at the heart of the Jewish people’s historic rights in the land.

I am committed to working with the administration, with my colleagues in Congress, and with the many private citizens in the United States and Israel who want our relationship to grow even stronger, to see that this bureaucratic injustice is corrected.  The American people’s desire to maintain and strengthen our deep friendship with Israel must be reflected throughout the whole of our government.

Douglas Lamborn currently serves as the U.S. Representative for Colorado’s 5th congressional district. He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a ranking member of the House Readiness Subcommittee.

This piece originally appeared in Israel Hayom and was provided courtesy of the Yes! Israel Project.

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