(April 22, 2019 / JNS) U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, 40, became the 19th Democrat to declare his candidacy for president in 2020, making the announcement on Monday.
The Massachusetts congressman and former U.S. Marine, who has been in the House of Representatives since 2015 and previously served four tours in Iraq, has kept with the mainstream Democratic stance on matters pertinent to the U.S.-Israel relationship.
In January, he tweeted: “On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, #WeRemember the 6 million Jewish victims of Nazi atrocities and the millions of others who were senselessly murdered. May their memories be a blessing and inspire us all to speak out against antisemitism and bigotry in all its forms.”
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, #WeRemember the 6 million Jewish victims of Nazi atrocities and the millions of others who were senselessly murdered. May their memories be a blessing and inspire us all to speak out against antisemitism and bigotry in all its forms.
— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) January 27, 2019
On the Iran deal: Military action, sanctions ‘leave us worse off’
Moulton, along with 149 other Democratic members of Congress, signed onto a letter to the Obama administration in 2015 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 July, Moulton announced his support for the Iran nuclear deal.
“After carefully reviewing the details of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, listening to my constituents including leaders in the Jewish community, and consulting with a wide variety of military and civilian experts, I have determined that the best course of action to prevent a nuclear Iran is by supporting and implementing the agreement,” he said in a statement. “It is not a perfect deal, and it is easy to point out the many ways in which it could theoretically be stronger. That being said, it is by far the best viable option before us.”
The former U.S. Marine added, “Both alternatives, military action and sanctions, leave us worse off than we are under the terms of the deal.”
In January 2016, along with then-Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wisc.), Moulton introduced the Iran Deal Implementation and Accountability Act to “ensure effective implementation of the Iran Nuclear Deal, reaffirm our relationship with Israel and counter destabilizing Iranian actions,” according to a statement released the congressional offices.
“We need a clear-eyed, bipartisan approach to make sure the Iran deal is strictly implemented and that we continue to support our allies in the region while countering Iran’s destabilizing actions,” said Moulton. “Our resolution maps out an effective path forward for the U.S. and international community for the months and years to come.”
As expected, Moulton blasted U.S. President Donald Trump for not re-certifying Iranian compliance with the accord in October 2017.
“President Trump’s decision not to re-certify the Iran nuclear deal is dangerous for our national security and helps empower the worst elements of the Iranian regime,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and this deal, while imperfect, remains the best available option to do just that.”
“Backing out of the Iran deal opens the door to Iran again posing an imminent nuclear threat to our allies in the region, especially Israel, and the world,” continued Moulton. “It gives credibility to Iranian hard-line extremists who objected to the restrictions imposed by the deal in the first place—the same elements who have attacked American troops in Iraq.”
He added, “We must continue to counter Iran’s range of hostile action in the Middle East that is outside the scope of the nuclear agreement, but our ability to do so will be hampered by undermining the deal and having to re-address the nuclear issue as well.”
Unsurprisingly, Moulton slammed the president for withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran deal in May 2018.
“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran deal turns our back on our allies and hands Iranian hardliners a gift that makes the world more dangerous—and America less secure,” he said. “Iran will now feel free to re-launch their nuclear program, and other nations will be encouraged to pursue their own nuclear development since America clearly cannot be trusted to uphold the agreements that we make.”
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Moulton, who has favored a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, was a co-sponsor of a 2017 bill that would have mandated the U.S. government to certify that its military funding to Israel is not used for the “Israeli military’s ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children.”
Nonetheless, Moulton was one of 342 representatives to vote in favor of a House resolution in January 2017 to rebuke U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334 that condemned Israeli neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria, from which the United States abstained, allowing it to pass.
“Although it rightly criticizes the continued expansion of Israeli settlements, it gives no mention to the continued, and recently intensified, violence by Palestinians and terrorists against innocent Israeli citizens,” he said, explaining his vote. “Biased or one-sided resolutions like this only move us further away from the shared goal of reaching resolution between the parties of this two-sided conflict.”
“I also reaffirm my belief, shared by a number of prominent Israeli voices, foreign policy experts, legal scholars and successive U.S. administrations, including the Obama administration, that the continued expansion of settlements is detrimental to the cause of peace,” he added. “Settlement construction is an attempt to alter the facts on the ground to the point where a reasonable two-state arrangement is more and more difficult to achieve. [Israeli] Prime Minister Netanyahu has been clear, calling his government ‘more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history.’ ”
Moreover, Moulton was one of dozens of Democrats to sign onto a letter in February 2018 calling on the Trump administration not to cease taxpayer funding to the Palestinians and the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), despite long-documented evidence that it has distributed textbooks that promote Palestinian incitement and violence against Israel and Jews.
“Alongside robust and expanding U.S. aid to Israel, Congress has regularly appropriated funds to help bolster Palestinian quality of life and governance, both bilaterally and through contributions to UNRWA, and security in the region,” states the letter. “This assistance also helps to improve the lives of millions of children in the Palestinian territories, where more than 50 percent of children live below the poverty line.”
Opposing Hamas, though a nod to CAIR
Moulton co-introduced the Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act in 2017 that would have made it U.S. policy to condemn the terrorist group’s use of human shields and act against those who participate in or support the practice. It unanimously passed the House in February 2018. Trump signed similar legislation in December 2018.
However, he 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.”
Moulton did vote in favor of a March 2019 resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred.
In the crowded Democratic field, Americans will have to wait and see whether Moulton’s youth and military experience can carry him to the finish line.