United for Israel

Congressman Lamborn’s remarks from CUFI’s “View from the Hill” panel 2017

It is great to be here among the best supporters of Israel in the world! Christians United for Israel has had unprecedented success in bolstering support for Israel, the US-Israel relationship, and bringing more friends into the pro-Israel fold than ever before.

I represent the 5th district in the great state of Colorado, and I am proud to have a number of CUFI members from my district attending this conference.

At 3 million members, CUFI is an unstoppable force. I personally have worked with many CUFI members, and in recent months have worked with Gary Bauer, the executive director for the CUFI Action Fund, and Jason Stevrak, the CUFI Action Fund chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill. I thank you both for your diligent work and time spent with my colleagues in Congress on behalf of Israel.

Why Support Israel?

I believe that Israel is the Promised Land and Jews are the Chosen People. Like the bible says in Genesis 12: 1–3, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Some believe that America has no business supporting Israel — that they don’t stand to gain by helping the only democracy in the Middle East. From a strategic standpoint, the US-Israel relationship is more than just a two-way-street. I would argue that America benefits more from this friendship than Israel does. This opinion is being challenged around our country and in the world, which is why our work is so important.

How I Support Israel

I have been to Israel 7 times, and each time I have learned more than ever how vulnerable Israel is, and how America’s relationship is so critical.

I serve as co-chair of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus and co-chair of the house Republican Israel Caucus. In these roles I educate my colleagues in Congress about important issues surrounding Israel.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I work very hard to ensure funding for Israeli missile defense programs. I have had the opportunity to visit Iron Dome and Arrow in Israel and am in constant awe of the cutting edge military technology Israel is creating. They are always ahead of the game and I am pleased to be able to advocate for this progress.

I also initiated tunnel detection and defeat funding in our defense laws.

The Taylor Force Act

I introduced the Taylor Force Act with Senator Lindsey Graham in the Senate to halt the practice of sending American taxpayer dollars to Palestinian Terrorists. Lee Zeldin is the original cosponsor with me in the House.

This legislation is named for U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force, who was brutally murdered by a Palestinian terrorist during an educational tour in Israel in March of 2016. Taylor was an Eagle Scout, a West Point graduate, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and an American citizen. He represents everything right and good about our country, and everything any parent would want their son or daughter to be.

The day after the attack, Abbas’ ruling Fatah party praised Taylor’s murderer as a “hero and martyr,” and gave him a hero’s funeral with thousands of people in attendance.

Palestinian Authority (PA) law requires financial rewards for such attacks, to the tune of $315M a year, or 8% of the PA budget. And the more Jews a terrorist kills, the more they or their families are paid!

It is absolutely unacceptable that the United States continues to give foreign aid to an entity that rewards terrorist acts in Israel, such as the cowardly murder of Taylor.

My bill, H.R. 1164, the “Taylor Force Act”, would withhold economic assistance to the PA until the Secretary of State certifies that the PA is taking credible steps to end terrorist acts, publicly condemning acts of violence, and terminates payments for acts of terrorism against U.S. and Israeli citizens.

Countering Opposition to the Taylor Force Act

Currently, my bill has 87 cosponsors. The Senate companion to this bill has 15. The House bill is sadly not bipartisan, but the Senate bill is.

There are three main talking points that those uninformed about our efforts will use to oppose this bill.

Some argue that money is not fungible, and that we know exactly where our foreign aid is going. If the Palestinian Authority knows they are getting hundreds of millions of dollars from American taxpayers, they know they will not have to spend their money on those programs, freeing up their own money to give to pay terrorist stipends.

A second talking point is that the Israeli Government is opposed to this legislation. While there are Israelis who have spoken out against the legislation, the current Israeli government has officially supported it. You heard just last night from Ambassador Ron Dermer that the State of Israel supports this legislation!

Member of Knesset Elazar Stern introduced a bill similar to the Taylor Force Act in the Israeli Parliament, which has received broad support across political parties in the Knesset.

A third talking point opposed to the legislation is that it would destabilize the West Bank, creating a vacuum in which a worse entity might take over. There are a few issues with this line of thinking.

  1. The region is already destabilized by nature of its president, Mahmoud Abbas, calling for violence against Israelis at every opportunity.
  2. Oftentimes, those who don’t support this legislation exclusively support a two-state solution. Ask your representatives: If asking the Palestinian Authority to stop rewarding terrorists with monthly stipends more than the average Palestinian paycheck is too much, why do they deserve a state?
  3. Removing an incentive to commit acts of terror will reduce the number of terrorist attacks — this will absolutely not destabilize the region but bring peace and stability to it.

How can we support a Palestinian state if PA President Mahmoud Abbas keeps reaffirming his support for terror payments?

Conclusion

We must not be silent; we must speak up about this horrific Palestinian practice.

Isaiah 62:1 says:

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.

I cannot thank CUFI enough for working on behalf of this important legislation. I may have introduced this in the U.S. House, but you all are working to get it passed by being here to advocate for it. Thank you!


Congressman Doug Lamborn represents Colorado’s fifth district. These remarks were originally delivered at the Christians United for Israel panel on July 17, 2017.