(April 5, 2019 / JNS) U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, 45, announced his candidacy on Thursday for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.
Serving in the House of Representatives since 2003, the Ohio congressman has emphasized Israel’s right to defend itself, while taking conventional Democratic stances on issues related to the U.S.-Israel relationship.
In January 2009, Ryan, released a statement condemning Hamas for violating a ceasefire with Israel, and called for the Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.
“Like many observers, I am very disappointed that Hamas chose to unilaterally end its six-month ceasefire agreement with Israel on December 19th,” he said. “And while Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas-fired missiles, all sides must acknowledge that the continued conflict in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians is a threat to world peace and security, making it harder for the United States to combat global terror. I strongly encourage Israel and the Palestinians to return to negotiations and bring this fight to an end.”
Ryan has called for a two-state solution between the parties.
In April 2016, Ryan tweeted, “I was in Jerusalem a few weeks ago & saw firsthand the dangerous threat Israelis face. Israel has the right to defend itself from terror.”
I was in Jerusalem a few weeks ago & saw firsthand the dangerous threat Israelis face. Israel has the right to defend itself from terror.
— Congressman Tim Ryan (@RepTimRyan) April 18, 2016
Supporting negotiations and the nuclear deal with Iran
Ryan signed onto a February 2014 letter along with fellow House Democrats, calling on the Obama administration to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear-weapons program.
“The ongoing implementation of the Joint Plan of Action agreed to by Iran and the ‘P5+1’ nations last November increases the possibility of a comprehensive and verifiable international agreement,” stated the letter. “We understand that there is no assurance of success and that, if talks break down or Iran reneges on pledges it made in the interim agreement, Congress may be compelled to act as it has in the past by enacting additional sanctions legislation.”
“At present, however, we believe that Congress must give diplomacy a chance,” it continued. “A bill or resolution that risks fracturing our international coalition or, worse yet, undermining our credibility in future negotiations and jeopardizing hard-won progress toward a verifiable final agreement, must be avoided.”
While Democrats said that they are skeptical of Tehran, “robust diplomacy remains our best possible strategic option,” and that “we must not imperil the possibility of a diplomatic success before we even have a chance to pursue it.”
Ryan signed onto a similar 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.”
“If the United States were to abandon negotiations or cause their collapse, not only would we fail to peacefully prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, we would make that outcome more likely,” they continued. “The multilateral sanctions regime that brought Iran to the table would likely collapse, and the Iranian regime would likely decide to accelerate its nuclear program, unrestricted and unmonitored. Such developments could lead us to war.”
The following September, Ryan announced his support for the Iran nuclear deal.
“This deal is not perfect and I have not arrived at my decision lightly, but after careful consideration, I believe this agreement is our best available option to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, stringently monitor any nuclear activities with an independent, respected international agency and implement this deal with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China as our partners,” he said in a statement.
“Most importantly for me, because I don’t trust Iran, supporting this deal strongly positions America should Iran violate this agreement and continue to pursue a nuclear program,” he continued. “If we give diplomacy a chance, and Iran violates the agreement, we will have the support and backing of the international community.”
He added that he would vote against “legislative attempts to undermine this important deal,” and that were the United States to leave the deal, it would “be blamed by the world community for sinking the deal, the stiff sanctions would be removed and Iran would immediately restart its dangerous nuclear weapons program without anyone in the entire world monitoring their progress.”
Unsurprisingly, Ryan applied that tone in response to U.S President Donald Trump withdrawing America from the nuclear accord in May 2018, calling it “a grave mistake.”
Ryan was also one of 342 representatives to vote in favor of a House resolution in January 2017 to rebuke U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, condemning Israeli neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria, from which the United States abstained and allowed it to pass.
In response the Oct. 27, 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Ryan tweeted: “This deadly racist attack earlier in the week. Today’s horrible anti-Semitic attack in Pittsburgh. There’s too much hatred. We must all push back on it, and call it out.”
This deadly racist attack earlier in the week. Today’s horrible anti-Semitic attack in Pittsburgh. There’s too much hatred. We must all push back on it, and call it out. https://t.co/mmCflX5mPF
— Congressman Tim Ryan (@RepTimRyan) October 27, 2018
The following week, he tweeted: “This weekend, millions of Jewish and non-Jewish people will come together to #ShowUpforShabbat. I stand in solidarity with them. Together, we are stronger than hate. Together, we will show the world that anti-semitism has no place in our communities.”
Although Ryan is viewed as a moderate, whether he can stand out among the more than a dozen Democrats running for president is to be determined. At best, he could be highly considered as a possible vice-presidential nominee in an attempt to appeal to Midwestern and working-class voters.