Some two-dozen politicians and diplomats, in addition to Jewish, business, media and other leaders, convened on June 5 at the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill for the inaugural U.S.-Israel Leaders Summit marking Israel’s 75th anniversary.
Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.) told the audience that the United States stands firmly with them, committed to ensuring Israel’s survival and success.
“Today, we are not just celebrating the State of Israel but also the enduring values that bind us,” he said. “A greater ally the United States could not have than Israel. … We are nations focusing on the same God.”
The summit, which drew six members of Congress on a Monday (typically a travel day for members), came three-and-a-half weeks after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) hosted Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-Mich.) anti-Israel “Nakba Day” event, noted Natasha Srdoc, co-organizer of the event and founder of the International Leaders Summit.
“It was timely and relevant to set the record straight and to host the inaugural U.S.-Israel Leaders Summit, commemorating Israel’s 75th anniversary on Capitol Hill and strengthening America’s partnership with Israel,” Srdoc told JNS.
The event also included a screening—the Capitol Hill premiere—of the documentary “Upheaval: The Journey of Menachem Begin.”
Begin was a “courageous and pioneering leader who forged peace in the region,” Srdoc said. “It reminds us all about how his principled work helped pave the way for Arab leaders to begin dialogue with Israel and led to the signing of the Abraham Accords.”
Stuart Weinblatt, senior rabbi of the “modern Conservative” synagogue B’nai Tzedek in Potomac, Md., was another speaker at the event. He called the relationship between Jews and Israel “the greatest love story.”
“It’s a story of a people who were promised a parcel of land for eternity, and have believed in that promise and remained faithful to it throughout the ages,” he said at the summit. “While they lived there, they nurtured it, and it, in turn, nurtured them.”
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) stressed the importance—more than ever—that economics plays in the U.S.-Israel relationship, which he said is critical not only to peace in the Middle East but around the world. He cited the significance of the supply chain and sharing technologies, including missile systems.
“A strong defense is the greatest deterrence,” he said.
Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) is currently suing the Biden administration in his personal capacity over the Taylor Force Act, which bars U.S. support of the Palestinian Authority while the latter pays stipends to terrorists and their families.
“I pitch myself, when I talk to folks, as one of the biggest pro-Israel hawks in all of Congress, and I believe that I am. There’s nothing that comes across my desk that’s pro-Israel that I don’t sign and support,” he said at the summit. “That’s just a rule in my office, and everyone knows that.”
Jackson said people in his district “recognize that Israel is on the tip of the spear with regards to the national security of our country.”
“If we don’t make sure that Israel is strong and healthy, and they have what they need to defend themselves, then we will find ourselves in the Middle East in short order in a situation that we don’t want to be in,” he said.
‘Truly having to innovate’
Rep. John James (R-Mich.) praised Israel for understanding how to do more with less.
Israel “truly understands the meaning of being surrounded by those who would hurt you and truly having to innovate. Truly having to be creative,” he said. “Truly leaning upon our Lord for sustenance and our future.”
America is blessed to call Israel one of its greatest allies, according to the congressman.
“I’ve always been—and look forward to continuing to be—a very vocal and unapologetic champion of Israel. But talk is cheap,” he said. “I’ve taken tangible actions to support the Israel-United States relationship building.”
“For 75 years, Israel has defied the odds,” he added. “I can only imagine what the next 75 years hold.”
Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) said he blesses Israel, so that he, too, will be blessed.
“I believe that God does love truth, and Israel is a nation of truth,” he stated. “This isn’t just a geopolitical incident. This is [the] reality of God’s design, and if it’s God’s design, it must be supported and encouraged.”
Alex Traiman, CEO and Jerusalem bureau chief of Jewish News Syndicate, also spoke at the summit, which featured wines sponsored by the Psagot Winery in Samaria.