US war veterans serving in Congress

#28 - Vets in Congress: Elaine Luria and Lee Zeldin

(L-R) Lee Zeldin & Elaine Luria (Photo credits: Reuters)  (photo credit: JERUSALEM POST)
(L-R) Lee Zeldin & Elaine Luria (Photo credits: Reuters)
(photo credit: JERUSALEM POST)
Reps. Elaine Luria (D-VA) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) are both considered rising figures within their parties. Although they represent different sides of the aisle, the two have occasionally cooperated on Israel-related issues. Thus, last November, they spearheaded a letter to UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, urging him to enforce Security Council Resolution 1701.
The letter called on Guterres to lead an international effort to limit Hezbollah’s capabilities, “and to avoid the devastating but avoidable outcome of which you have previously warned.” Most House of Representatives lawmakers – more than 240 from both parties – joined the letter.
Luria, the 45-year-old retired Navy commander, represents Virginia’s 2nd congressional district, which includes Virginia Beach and Williamsburg, as well as portions of Norfolk City. She is a freshman congresswoman, having been elected in 2018 after defeating Republican incumbent rep. Scott Taylor.

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In November 2018, even before being sworn in, she took a trip organized by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for new members of Congress. It was her first trip to the Jewish state. She told The Washington Post that she was struck by how US support to Israel allows residents “to live in their communities normal, secure lives without the fear of mortars and rockets falling on their roofs repeatedly when those types of activities do break out.” In May 2020, Luria spearheaded another letter – this time to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The letter urged him to call on the International Criminal Court to halt its investigations into the US and Israel, saying they were politically motivated.
Zeldin is one of two Jewish Republicans in Congress. He represents eastern Long Island. Like Luria, he is also a veteran, having served in the US Army from 2003 to 2007, and was deployed to Iraq. During the Republican National Convention last month, he was given a speaking slot – signaling his growing popularity in the party. He is considered an ally of US President Donald Trump, and was appointed to serve on his impeachment defense team.
Zeldin is also one of the founders of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Black Jewish-Relations. The caucus was announced during The American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum in 2019, “to raise awareness of each community’s sensitivities and needs in Congress and around the country and to provide resources to members of Congress to empower them to bring Black and Jewish communities together, combating stereotypes and hate and showcasing commonalities.” Luria is a member of the caucus as well.