By Jeanette M. Nuñez, State Representative, District 112
Recently, I was honored by several members of the Miami AIPAC chapter to discuss the State of Israel. I believe this was a very succesful collaboration between the members of AIPAC and myself and I am honored to have their support. On behalf of the members of the Miami chapter of AIPAC, I would like to share with you a position paper, entitled, “The State of Israel”.
America’s support for the democratic state of Israel can date as far back as 1919, with President Woodrow Wilson’s endorsement of the Balfour Declaration. The document, which declared that the British favored a Jewish homeland in Palestine, is considered the first real step towards the reclamation and settlement of the Jewish homeland. Since that time, the U.S./Israeli relationship has evolved, from a once sympathetic and supportive stance for the creation and maintenance of an independent Jewish homeland, to an outright full supportive relationship that includes substantial economic and military aid. What was once a vision of a homeland for thousands of misplaced refugees after World War II has now become one of the strongest democratic and military presences in the Middle East, and one of the United States’ closest allies.
Israel exists under the constant threat of terror, under siege from rocket-fire on a daily basis. This parallels the ever expanding danger the world, and the United States, faces in the wake of the resurgence of terror tactics used by extremist organizations and governments. This imminent danger, the danger that the United States faces daily, particularly since the tragedy of 9/11, has forged a unique relationship with Israel that allows us to develop along with them, a smart and strong defense system against terrorism. No other country in the Middle East works with the U.S. as diligently as Israel does to fight the very real threat of terrorism.
Prevention of a Nuclear Threat in Iran
One of those real threats is Iran. A nuclear armed Iran is most certainly a threat to not only the Middle East but the entire world and it is a shared goal that the United States and Israel do everything they can to prevent Iran from obtaining such dangerous weapons. Until Iran decides to curb their uranium enrichment programs, or change their aggressive, repressive, and dangerous current regime, we must continue to support all sanctions against Iran and anyone that does business with them, which is exemplified in Florida being the first state to divest from Iran. The best course of action is to leave all options on the table when dealing with such a determined and volatile entity.
Florida and Israel
Out of the fifty states in the union, only twenty-two have active trade agreements with Israel. Our great state of Florida is one of those twenty-two states. The economic advantages to Florida’s trade agreement with Israel are endless. Considering that Israel now ranks as Florida’s 21st leading trade partner, it is clear that the agreement is mutually beneficial. Florida also enjoys the use of technology developed in Israel, such as drip irrigation and smart camera technology at the Port of Miami and elsewhere. In addition to the millions of dollars worth of manufactured goods Florida exports to Israel every year, some Florida companies have received substantial funding for U.S. government-funded military contracts with Israel through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. This program is the main source of U.S. military assistance to Israel. The reciprocal relationship extends beyond material goods as well, and takes the shape of mutual training of first-responders, police, and firefighters
All of Florida’s elected officials, federal or state, Republican or Democrat, have shown their full support for the sovereign state of Israel. This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue of the only democracy in the Middle East having our full support to be able to defend themselves against outside malignant influences.
Israel sets the example in the Middle East for a functioning and steady democracy. They share our same vision of strong democratic and humanitarian values. With the often volatile and changing currents in the Middle East, most recently with the events in Egypt and Libya, it is important now more than ever to maintain a close and supportive relationship with Israel and what they stand for in the region. We must remain vigilant and continue safeguarding our alliance with Israel.
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