(December 4, 2019 / JNS) Republican Rep. Greg Murphy defeated the former mayor of Greenville, N.C., Democrat Allen Thomas, in a special election on Sept. 10 in the state’s 10th Congressional District to succeed the longtime Rep. Walter Jones Jr., who passed away earlier this year from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Murphy, 56, a urologist who also served in the North Carolina General Assembly from Oct. 19, 2015 until he took office in Congress on Sept. 17, stated that he stands with the Jewish and pro-Israel community in what was his first interview about issues related to those constituencies.
“I fully support it; it’s the greatest democracy that we have in the Middle East,” he told JNS on Nov. 15 in his office on Capitol Hill. “It’s a critical relationship that we support the democracy, and we support the people.”
Murphy and his wife, Wendy, have three children. He has been to Israel once—six years ago on a religious pilgrimage with his church, where he said he toured many Christian sites. He added that he is “looking forward to going there again,” this time in a congressional role to talk to leaders.
The new congressman said that he agreed with U.S. President Donald Trump’s pro-Israel policies, including recognizing Jerusalem and moving the U.S. embassy there; withdrawing the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal; closing the PLO mission in Washington, D.C.; recognizing the Golan Heights; designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group; defunding U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA; and having the United States leave the U.N. Human Rights Council and UNESCO.
“In my short tenure as a member of Congress but also as a previously elected representative,” he said, “I’ve shown and demonstrated my appreciation of and support of Israel. There’s nothing in my mind that I see that changing.”
On Turkey and sanctions
Regarding Turkey and recent diplomatic tensions, the congressman remarked that the country is a member of NATO; therefore, “we have to be receptive, as Turkey does weigh in” on Mideast issues.
“Those channels need to remain open,” he said.
Murphy voted against the U.S. House of Representatives resolution in October, condemning the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, which occurred following a phone call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in what many have criticized as a betrayal of Kurdish allies by giving the go-ahead for Turkey to invade the northeastern part of the country.
Trump has since backtracked and said that a small U.S. military presence will remain in Syria to protect the region’s oil, a move Murphy said he supported, adding that the United States needs to combat Iranian forces in Syria, including Hezbollah, in which Congress should pass a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF. The last one was passed in 2001.
Trump and Erdoğan met at the White House on Nov. 13, at which time the president said that Turkey has “tremendous potential.”
However, Murphy did vote on Oct. 29 for a bill to enact sanctions on Turkey and a resolution recognizing the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
“As I understand, President Trump was told by the Turkish president that Turkey would be rolling into northern Syria, so President Trump had to make a choice of either starting a conflict with a NATO ally or moving 28 troops out of harm’s way,” said Murphy. “He made the right choice.”
“That said, Turkey, in doing this, was wrong to do it,” he continued. “That’s why I voted with the president the first time and for sanctions the second time.”
On nuclear arms and Iran
Shortly before the United States quietly released $105 million in military assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces last week, despite concerns from Israel that the LAF has worked with the U.S.-designated terrorist group and Iranian proxy Hezbollah, Murphy remarked that “anyone who works with those terrorist organizations do not need to be funded by the United States. If we’re going to be logical in our foreign policy, we don’t need to do anything to support the terrorist organizations that are attacking Israel.”
On Iran, while Murphy said he supports the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign against the regime, he criticized the Trump administration for repeatedly extending waivers to allow civilian nuclear research at Iran’s Arak, Bushehr and Fordow facilities.
“We’ve given the Iranians too much of a course towards developing a nuclear weapon,” he said. “Everything that we do should prevent nuclear arms from Iran.”
Three days after the interview, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the United States has cancelled the sanctions waiver for Fordow, effective Dec. 15, in response to Iran announcing and the International Atomic Energy Agency confirming that the regime resumed uranium enrichment at the site.
Additionally, Murphy criticized Trump for not militarily retaliating against Iran for shooting down a U.S. drone in June and striking Saudi Aramco facilities in September.
“I wish we would’ve been stronger about that,” he said. “That sometimes taking out certain facilities are needed. I wish we would’ve done that.”
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