The United States must maintain its pivotal role in promoting the long-term stability of Israel as an independent Jewish, democratic state.
As the Fourth District’s Congresswoman, Jesse will be deeply committed to ensuring that. She believes that the close relationship between Israel and the United States is the natural result of overlapping strategic interests and moral ideals.
The United States is a stronger place when it is living up to its core values and working alongside Israel to promote security, democracy, personal liberty, responsible entrepreneurship, and the rule of law. As someone of proud Jewish heritage, having grown up with a Jewish father and many Jewish family members, Jesse has long appreciated the need for Jewish self-determination and the importance of Israel as a place of refuge for Jews across the world. The recent surge in global anti-Semitism has only underscored these imperatives.
In 2018, Jesse had the opportunity to travel to Israel with a group of innovators around social change, as part of a program to connect changemakers in the United States with changemakers in Israel to learn about and from each other. That trip allowed her to have some understanding of the issues facing Israel and the complexities of the region beyond what one sees on the news. While it is impossible to develop a full sense of a country based on one visit, Jesse is grateful for the small window she now has into Israel’s challenges and opportunities. Her predecessors in the Fourth District have long led in Congress on issues facing the people of Israel and she looks forward to building on those efforts.
Jesse’s commitment to Jewish self-determination in Israel is paired, by necessity, with a long-term commitment to a two-state solution. This goal, while daunting, represents the best path toward establishing peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians alike. Jesse understands a commitment to support Israel as one that combines concern for Israel’s immediate security needs with a long-term outlook aimed at peaceful co-existence in two states. This perspective will guide her decision-making as a member of the House of Representatives.
Below, are Jesse’s positions on some of several key issues concerning Israel, the Palestinians, and the Middle East.
- Two-State Solution. We are at a critical moment in Israel’s history. The actions that leaders take today will have lasting and serious consequences for the peace and security of the region, as well as the rights and dignity of both Israelis and Palestinians. Jesse believes that the best approach to achieving long-term stability is a two-state solution: a secure, democratic, Jewish state of Israel and an independent, viable, peaceful Palestinian state. Such an outcome is a crucial American interest and must play a central role in U.S. foreign policy efforts moving forward. As far off as a two-state reality seems at this moment, it remains a future worth fighting for. Alternative proposals unacceptably threaten either the Jewish or democratic nature of Israel. The United States and Congress must recommit to encouraging Israelis and Palestinians to take the small, difficult steps that will someday lead to peace. At the moment, this may mean simply fighting decisions that imperil the long-term hopes for a two-state solution, like the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank which could facilitate a de-facto annexation of the territory. For example, Jesse is deeply disheartened by the Trump administration’s apparent encouragement of unilateral Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank. In the long-term, the United States should work to bring both parties back to the table, playing a facilitating role that recognizes their mutual need for peace, security, and self-determination. In the short term, the U.S. must use its influence to preserve the core elements of a two-state solution to be directly negotiated by the two parties, including borders based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed upon swaps, and a shared capital in Jerusalem for both states.
- U.S. Aid to Israel and the Palestinians. Israel’s existence has been marked by existential military threats coming from many directions and in many different forms. Jesse strongly supports continued U.S. aid to Israel both in terms of financial contributions towards Israeli defense and with regards to the exchange of security and military intelligence. A more secure Israel is both a good in itself and a step towards achieving the vital U.S. interest of a two-state solution. Jesse is also committed to preserving U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority and supporting institutions aimed at producing more stable living conditions among Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Such efforts are both a demand of human rights and a strategic imperative in the long-term pursuit of mutual peace and security. Of course, efforts must be made to ensure that such funding is not used to promote violence or reward those who perpetrate crimes against Israelis. Additionally, Jesse believes we need to explore funding people-to-people programs and economic development as conflict resolution tools to achieve our goal of a two-state solution.
- Iran. The current situation in Iran and Iraq is deeply concerning and Jesse opposes the Trump administration’s effort to move the U.S. to a dangerous war footing. As it relates specifically to Israel, however, Iran has openly threatened the state of Israel and is a sponsor of terrorism across the world. The U.S. must work to prevent Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weaponry for the sake of Israel, the Palestinians, and the world. Jesse believes that the Trump administration made a dangerous error in pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The deal was succeeding in restraining Iranian nuclear development while simultaneously working to counteract the actions of a dangerous, anti-democratic Iranian regime. Furthermore, by abruptly pulling out of the agreement, the Trump administration undermined U.S. credibility around the world. The U.S. cannot possibly become an honest broker in the Middle East by breaking promises aimed at securing peace and stability in the region. Jesse is hopeful that the Iranians will agree to come back to the table to negotiate a new deal. In Congress, she will take any steps available to encourage the U.S. to come back to the underlying principles of the JCPOA and to find a way forward that ensures the international community is working together to reach a better deal.
- Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). Jesse opposes the global BDS Movement because, first and foremost, it does not support a two-state solution or the vital need for a Jewish state. Jesse strongly opposes any anti-Semitic rhetoric coming from this movement and will forcefully do so whenever she sees it – as we all should. She believes that BDS is misguided and not the most effective approach to the pursuit of peace or security for Israelis or Palestinians. Jesse is very much opposed to BDS as a movement, and would support anti-BDS legislation like HR – 246. She does, however, firmly believe in civil liberties and the First Amendment, which guarantees the right to free speech. As Americans, we have the right to offer political opinions and to perform acts of political expression. As such, Jesse is also opposed to efforts to curtail free speech aimed at BDS proponents. She believes in informed democratic debate and the thoughtful exchange of ideas and she does not believe that Israel’s defense requires the silencing of its critics.