A happy Passover greeting to all my many friends

It is important to remember why this celebration exemplifies God’s mercy on His people.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Iranian President Ahmadinejad 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As millions around the world begin to celebrate the feast of Passover at sundown on Friday, April 6, it is important to remember why this celebration exemplifies God’s mercy on His people. When the children of Israel cried out to the Lord because of their great suffering at the hands of the Egyptians, we know “God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them” (Exodus 2:25). God responded with 10 plagues sent to do unimaginable damage on Egypt in order to deliver His people.
When the first nine plagues did not soften the heart of Pharaoh, the Lord sent his tenth and final plague: the slaughter of the first-born males in each family. By believing and obeying specific instructions from the Lord, the Israelites were spared this horrific plague and ultimately the destruction led to their freedom from Egyptian tyranny.
God foretold the liberation of the children of Israel when he told Moses “I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage” (Exodus 6:6). These promises to the ancient Israelites were near to my heart as I grew up, which is why I took the first opportunity to go to Israel when I was a young woman. The day after I graduated from high school in 1974, I took a flight to Israel.
I went to work for the summer on Kibbutz Be’eri near Beersheba. Aside from the beauty of the country and deep cultural and spiritual appreciation of the Jewish people, the experience gave me a clear realization: Israel is under a constant external threat. During my time, we worked on the kibbutz from four in the morning until noon, and at all times we were accompanied by soldiers carrying machine guns. While we were working, they were making sure there were no land mines in the fields.
As a recent high school graduate, I knew very little of the complex geopolitical threat that Israel faced from all sides of its borders. Today, Israel still faces those threats and more. For this reason, the United States must declare, in no uncertain terms, that it is our policy to utilize all military strength to support and defend our strongest ally in the Middle East, Israel.
On March 4 of this year, President Obama made the case that diplomatic sanctions are working in Iran. His words, “Now is the time to let our increased pressure sink in, and to sustain the broad international coalition we have built,”point to the need to let diplomacy take its course. These are powerful words and I certainly commend both the Bush administration and the Obama administration for the increasing economic sanctions on Iran.
HOWEVER, HAS any evidence surfaced that these sanctions are hindering the development of a nuclear weapon? If Iran had years instead of months, sanctions would certainly be advisable under the circumstances. Unfortunately, report after report seems to lend credence to the fact that Iran is growing dangerously close to having nuclear capability.
Furthermore, there are those that wrongly believe that Iran can be contained or that Iran is strictly Israel’s problem. Make no mistake; a nuclear Iran threatens the safety and security of a region that directly affects the interests of the United States. If Iran were to obtain a nuclear weapon, many surrounding Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan, will most likely do everything in their power to obtain one, beginning a deadly nuclear arms race.
Additionally, Iran has made clear through its intrusion into our own hemisphere that it will not only provide support to rogue nations south of our border, it could also provide secrets of nuclear capability. Just imagine the devastation of a nuclear Cuba or Venezuela.
To Israel, the threat is real and very close. Just over 950 miles away from Jerusalem (roughly the distance by air from Washington, DC, to Miami) is Tehran and its fanatical leadership. The chilling escalation of tensions between Israel and Iran leaves the United States with but two choices: stand with our long-time democratic ally or marginalize their position leaving them even more vulnerable to attack. I write this not to express the obvious, but to urge the American public to stand up and demand that our elected officials clearly explain their policies on stopping a nuclear Iran.
The president mentioned “too much loose talk of war” in his March 4 speech. I recognize some may wrongly see this as a call for military action against Iran. Nothing could be further from the truth. Military action should only be utilized when all diplomatic means have been exhausted. However, even with rapid implementation of sanctions on every aspect of the Iranian economy, I am concerned that Iran has more than enough capabilities to not only complete a nuclear weapon, but to use it, if necessary.
In the 38 years since I worked in Israel, I have been privileged to visit the country many times. I always return with a stronger reality and greater concern for Israel’s safety and security. However, having returned just two weeks ago from an House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence trip to the country, and having met privately with numerous Israeli leaders including Prime Minister Netanyahu, the dangers our great friend Israel faces today are more acute and more serious than ever.
Friends, feel assured and confident this Passover, I pledge to do everything in my power to protect and secure one of our most precious allies, the great State of Israel.
A Happy, Healthy Pessah.The writer is a US Congresswoman