(April 9, 2019 / JNS) U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, 38, announced on Monday night his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.
Since being elected to the House of Representatives in 2013, the California congressman has towed the party line on issues related to the U.S.-Israel alliance, especially on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
“I was 10 when Iraq sent Scud missiles into Israel. I was confused & asked my Dad who Israel was and why we’d defend them. ‘They’re one of our best friends in the world. And you always stand with your friends.’ I’m still for this partnership today & anyone seeking to strengthen it,” tweeted Swalwell in February.
I was 10 when Iraq sent Scud missiles into Israel. I was confused & asked my Dad who Israel was and why we’d defend them. “They’re one of our best friends in the world. And you always stand with your friends.” I’m still for this partnership today & anyone seeking to strengthen it
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) February 11, 2019
In response to Hamas launching rockets from Gaza into Israel in the summer of 2014, Swalwell posted on Facebook: “Innocent civilians in Israel have been under constant attack from rocket attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza. These attacks have recently escalated, with over 500 rockets fired at Israel in just the past month. I stand with Israel as it seeks peace and security in the region.”
Swalwell signed onto a March 2017 letter, calling on U.S. President Donald Trump to support a two-state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
“For decades, American presidents and Israeli prime ministers of all political parties have publicly supported and worked toward attaining a peace agreement that recognizes Israel’s right to exist as a democratic, Jewish state and establishes a demilitarized Palestinian state, coexisting side-by-side in peace and security,” stated the letter. “Today, we remain convinced that a two-state solution is the only outcome that would quell ongoing incidents of violence, maintain Israel as a secure, Jewish, and democratic state, and provide a just and stable future for the Palestinians.”
It continued, “It is our belief that a one-state outcome risks destroying Israel’s Jewish and democratic character, denies the Palestinians fulfillment of their legitimate aspirations, and would leave both Israelis and Palestinians embroiled in an endless and intractable conflict for generations to come.”
On the 2015 Iran nuclear deal
Swalwell’s campaign website in 2012 stated the then-candidate’s support for “strong sanctions against Iran, including the Central Bank of Iran until they can prove they are not developing nuclear weapons.”
“We must also diligently identify and sanction any domestic or foreign company that assists Iran, in any way, in its effort to obtain and/or develop nuclear weapons,” he added. “We must more directly address countries that support Iran yet look the other way when it comes to Iran’s flagrant violations of mandatory U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
Swalwell signed onto a letter in May 2015 along with 149 other Democratic members of Congress that stated that preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb “is above politics,” and that the “stakes are too great, and the alternatives are too dire. We must exhaust every avenue toward a verifiable, enforceable, diplomatic solution in order to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.”
In August 2015, Swalwell announced his support for the Iran nuclear deal.
“After participating in classified briefings, asking tough questions of the Obama administration, meeting with proponents and opponents, and listening to my constituents, I have concluded this agreement is the best available opportunity for a nuclear-weapon-free Iran,” he said in a statement.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson challenged Swalwell in April 2017 on reaching that conclusion amid a Politico bombshell that the Obama administration releasing Iranian-Americans who allegedly posed a national security risk in which the U.S. Department of Justice dropped charges against 14 Iranian fugitives.
Swalwell denied knowing about the Obama administration moves and added, “I don’t agree with everything that happened, but I think being farther away from a nuclear Iran is a good thing, and that’s where we are right now.”
“This agreement is not perfect. If Iran fully complies, in eight years it will be allowed to seek ballistic missiles,” said Swalwell in his announcement supporting the deal. “Additionally, some sanctions relief money may fund Iran’s terrorist efforts; however, that is already happening.”
With the U.S. enacting sanctions, said the congressman, “short of taking military action, the U.S. had no additional leverage,” and “this deal means the U.S. would be walking away from an agreement unanimously supported by the U.N. Security Council and the majority of nations.”
Unsurprisingly, Swalwell slammed Trump’s decision in May 2018 to withdraw America from the nuclear deal, saying that “the president is putting us on a path to war.”
“It is a fantasy world if the president thinks that he could get those individuals to do something better than what President Obama and [former U.S. Secretary of State] John Kerry got them to agree to over years of negotiation,” he continued. “It’s revisionist history and makes us all less safe.”
On Anti-Semitism: Condemning BDS, but supporting CAIR
“While ASA has every right to express its views on policies pursued by any nation or government, we believe that the decision to blacklist Israeli academic institutions for Israeli government policies with which ASA disagrees demonstrates a blatant disregard for academic freedom,” stated the letter.
“This boycott doesn’t advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but only reinforces dangerous stereotypes that limit mutual understanding and cooperation—two things that should be at the very heart of our academic endeavors,” it added. “We therefore cannot tolerate these ignorant smear campaigns to isolate Israel and deteriorate the historic U.S.-Israel relationship.”
However, Swalwell was one of 101 lawmakers to sign onto a September 2018 letter to congratulate the pro-BDS Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on its annual banquet.
“CAIR has a long history of being a vicious anti-Semitic Israel-hating group. They irrationally condemn the Jewish state, but never condemn the murderous actions of Hamas or Syria, or the Palestinian dictator [Mahmoud] Abbas,” Zionist Organization of America national president Mort Klein previously told JNS. “By calling for the genocide of Israel, they join the moral horrors of the Nazis and Stalin, without their power, thank G-d.”
Swalwell did vote in favor of a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred.
On settlements in Judea and Samaria
In a field of almost 20 candidates, it may be difficult for Swalwell to stand out.