Washington DC - Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, has been committed to strengthening the US-Israel relationship, preventing a unilateral Palestinian statehood resolution at the UN, and stoping Iran’s nuclear program.
“For almost 15 years, I have served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” said Sherman. “I have been the lead Democratic member on the subcommittee dealing with Terrorism and Nonproliferation since 2003. Throughout my term in Congress, I have worked to support U.S. friendship and increased cooperation with Israel, our only close ally in the Middle East. “
Read Congressman Sherman’s Full Statement on US-Israel Relations:
Urging UN Member States to Vote No on Unilateral Palestinian Statehood
Recently, I wrote to Permanent Representatives from 81 countries to the United Nations to oppose a unilateral attempt by the Palestinians to declare statehood at the UN this month. The 81 countries, from every corner of the world, are the likely "swing states" (out of 193 total UN member states) that are not firmly decided on the issue. I asked the UN ambassadors not to support this pending resolution, but to “cast a vote instead for the principle of peace through negotiations." Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, personally expressed his appreciation for my efforts.
In the letter, I warned that Palestinian efforts to achieve statehood unilaterally through a UN resolution could have dire consequences for the Middle East peace process. The unilateral Palestinian
move violates the all-important principle that the only way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is through negotiations leading to a peace treaty fully accepted by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
In addition to my own letter to 81 UN Ambassadors, I signed onto a similar letter spearheaded by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer to approximately 40 European heads of state who are wavering on whether to stand with the US and Israel on this issue.
the matter is pending at the UN. Regardless of the outcome there, I will continue to battle against efforts to de-legitimize Israel.
Increasing Economic and Diplomatic Pressure on Iran
Iran remains the number one state sponsor of terrorism. I reintroduced the Stop Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program Act in April of this year. My new bill is the toughest Iran sanctions bill ever introduced.
Among the provisions of the bill, the Stop Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program Act would impose sanctions on companies that provide Iran with financing by paying in advance for future oil deliveries, or that sign long-term deals with Iran for sales of oil or gas. It would also target firms that help Iran borrow funds on world markets. It would target companies that do business with Iran’s radical Revolutionary Guards, an elite army that controls much of Iran’s economy and exports terror abroad. The bill would also sanction firms that provide Iran with equipment or technology relevant to mining uranium.
Securing Continued Aid to Israel
In 2008, the US and Israeli governments announced a new 10-year aid program that will ensure that Israel retains an edge in military strength over its adversaries. Under this new arrangement, aid will be increased from the $2.4 billion provided in military assistance in 2008 to an average $3 billion per year over the 10 years covered by the plan.
I am pleased to report that Congress provided the full $3 billion in security aid to Israel for 2011. While it will be necessary to trim federal spending in many areas, including on foreign and security programs, I am fighting for full funding of our assistance to Israel, at the level of $3.075 billion for 2012, in accordance with the 10 year plan. Israel typically spends most of its aid money buying U.S.-made items.
Leading the Effort to Fund U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation
Several years ago I wrote the US-Israel Energy Cooperation Act, which became law in late 2007. The Act provides for cooperative research between American and Israeli scientific institutions in various fields of energy. The Israeli government matches the US contribution, so that for every dollar Congress appropriates, two dollars of research is performed.
For the third year in a row we were able to secure funding for research programs under the Act. Currently, six cooperative programs are underway in various fields: energy grid management, biodiesel, photovoltaic and solar micro-turbines, and other fields in which the unique talents of American and Israeli researchers offer the opportunity of genuine breakthroughs.
This is another significant step in our efforts to cooperate with our ally Israel, which has a proven record of innovation in the field of energy research. Our national security depends on the development of alternative energy. Funding for the US-Israel Energy Cooperation Program has already advanced innovative new energy projects.
Protecting Parental Rights Regarding Male Circumcision
As many have heard, a measure had qualified for the November 2011 ballot in San Francisco which would make it illegal to perform circumcision on males under the age of 18. Efforts were begun to put a similar measure on the city ballot in Santa Monica. I regarded these measures as interferences in parental rights and an attack on a traditional religious practice of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years. The proponents of these measures made clear their anti-Semitic motivation. That is why I recently introduced the Religious and Parental Rights Defense Act of 2011, a bill to prevent San Francisco and other municipalities from banning the circumcision of males under the age of 18.
Not only is the circumcision on the eighth day of life an ancient tradition of our people, modern science shows clear benefits from male circumcision. According to a United Nations study, male circumcision offers a sixty percent reduction in HIV risk. I agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics that parents should have the right to freely decide whether circumcision is in the best interest of their male children. American parents, Jews and gentiles alike, have chosen circumcision for over 75% percent of their male children. Congress has a legitimate interest in making sure that a practice that reduces disease and health care costs remains available to American parents. Moreover, Congress has acted on many occasions over the years to make sure that local laws do not interfere with the free practice of religion.
My bill is still pending before the United States Congress. But its purposes have been largely achieved. Immediately after I asked him to do so, Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced legislation protecting parental rights regarding male circumcision in the California legislature. You may remember Mike Gatto as my former District Chief of Staff who represented me at literally hundreds of events in the San Fernando Valley prior to his election to the Assembly. I’m pleased to report that Assemblyman Gatto’s bill, protecting both parental rights and religious rights, passed both the State Senate and the State Assembly and is expected to be signed by the Governor soon. Accordingly, neither San Francisco nor any other California city will be able to interfere in the rights of parents to circumcise their male children.