Congresswoman: Antisemitism, Iran threat highlight need for US-Israel ties

Republican Congresswoman Ann Wagner of Missouri spoke against BDS and promoted the necessity of joint Palestinian-Israeli business ventures over the Green Line.

Congresswoman Ann Wagner speaks to the House of Representatives, October 2019  (photo credit: screenshot)
Congresswoman Ann Wagner speaks to the House of Representatives, October 2019
(photo credit: screenshot)
Growing global antisemitism and the dangers of Iran make it more important than ever that the US maintain close ties to Israel, leading Republican Representative Ann Wagner of Missouri said during a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, in which she spoke against BDS and promoted joint Palestinian-Israeli business ventures over the Green Line.
“Israel is deeply invested in achieving peace in the Middle East, and so is the United States of America,” said Wagner, who is a member of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee. “And we will all stand collectively with Israel as they work toward the achievement of this goal.”
At “a time of heightened antisemitism that we are seeing across the globe, it is more important than ever that we maintain a strong connection to this very key ally of ours in Israel,” said Wagner. Such a stance is also significant given that Iran is threatening Israel, including through its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas.
Part of a small congressional delegation that traveled to Israel in August, Wagner was on a trip sponsored by the US Israel Education Association (USIEA). The trip focused on security issues and the work of the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry, co-led by Avi Zimmerman of the Ariel settlement and Ashraf Jabari of Hebron.
According to the chamber, it has a membership of some 250 Israeli and 250 Palestinian business people. Jabari was among a small number of Palestinian entrepreneurs who attended the US-led economic workshop in Manama, Bahrain, in June.
Wagner and other US Republican representatives on the trip met with Jabari in Hebron. At the end of the day on September 26, they made a presentation to the House regarding the trip, and placed a photo of the Jabari meeting in the room.
“People-to-people connection between Israelis and Palestinians are building blocks of the entire peace process,” she said. Wagner was one of the co-sponsors of the bi-partisan anti-BDS House Resolution 246.
She and the other members of the group have spoken of wanting to bring Jabari to Congress to present an alternative economic vision of how to move forward with Israel, so as to debunk some of the existing myths of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict including the idea that settler-Palestinian business initiatives are harmful.
Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State – the congressional representative to the UN General Assembly – said the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce’s work must be part of the Trump administration’s peace plan. McMorris Rodgers said she planned to discuss the matter with US envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt.
McMorris Rodgers noted that Palestinians themselves were working in settler-run industrial parks to manufacture products that had been targeted for boycott by the BDS movement, because those jobs offered them more opportunities.
“That is the reality on the ground, in the West Bank,” McMorris said. “Jews and Arabs from Israel and Palestine are working and living together today in peace...The economic relationship must be foundational to peace.” That cooperation, she added, is being threatened by BDS.
“Perhaps our struggles over the last 20 years to create a two-state solution there has blinded us from the fact that this is really about people, it’s not about lines drawn on a piece of paper,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne of Alabama.
Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee, who also took part in the trip, told Congress that the PA was not using its money to help the Palestinian people, but rather to pay terrorists. In such circumstances, he said, it is difficult to get to a peaceful resolution.