Senator Menendez on Israel

The reverberations of President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo continue in Congress. On Monday, June 16, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a "minority" American with a compelling personal biography, in a subtle criticism of the president, passionately defended Israel on the Senate floor.

Born less than two years after his parents arrived in this country from Cuba, Menendez is well aware of the blessings of freedom and the horrors of tyranny. Weaving contemporary realities with ancient Biblical and archeological history up to modern times, he made a powerful case for Israel based on facts, not wishful thinking.

Some highlights.

Especially in light of the threat of Iran, and in light of the threats extremists pose to so many innocent civilians around the globe, the importance of Israel as a strategic ally and friend to the United States could not be clearer. It is hard to overstate the value of having such a stalwart democratic ally in such a critical part of the world, an ally in terms of intelligence gathering, economics, politics, and culture.


Let's be very clear, while the Shoah (Holocaust) has a central role in Israel's identity, it is not the reason behind its founding, and it is not the main justification for its existence. The extreme characterization of this mistaken view is the following: the Western powers established Israel in 1948 based on their own guilt, at the expense of the Arab peoples who lived there. Therefore, the current state is illegitimate and should all be wiped off the face of the map.

This flawed argument is not only in defiance of basic human dignity but in plain defiance of history. It is in defiance of ancient history as told in Biblical texts and through archeological evidence. And it ignores the history of the last several centuries.


There has been a continuity of Jewish presence in the Holy Land for thousands of years. Jewish kings and governments were established in the areas that is now Israel several millennia ago.

Menendez then gave a brief history of the state of Israel, pointing out the almost immediate declaration of war by Arab states following the formation of the Jewish state.


He continued:

But the Arabs who left Israel after its modern founding weren't the only displaced population in the Middle East. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of Jews who left Europe during and after the Holocaust in the 20th century, more than three quarters of a million (750,000) Jews fled or were expelled from their homes in Arab and Middle Eastern nations--in cities that many of their families had lived in for nearly a millennium.

Watching the chaos in Iran and given his personal history, it is obvious that Menendez gets it. Why doesn't Obama?