Elizabeth Warren on Israel: A Hawk, or Hawk-ish?
Now that Senator Elizabeth Warren is on Hillary Clinton’s VP short list, it’s time to evaluate whether or not she’s fulfilled her Senate campaign promises vis-à-vis Israel. By evaluating her voting record, public statements, and institutional ties since assuming office, I’ve broken her positions down into three key issues, evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5 (Jewish) stars. So, how do Warren’s actions compare to her campaign promises?
Campaign Promise: “I unequivocally support the right of a Jewish, democratic state of Israel to exist, and to be safe and secure. The U.S.-Israel relationship is rooted in shared values and common interests, based on a commitment to liberty, pluralism, and the rule of law. These values transcend time, and they are the basis of our unbreakable bond.”
She Has Long History of working with Pro-Israel Groups
Warren’s first trip out of the country as a Senator was to Israel and Jordan. Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Boston, has noted that she maintains a strong relationship with the Massachusetts Jewish community and works with them on Israel issues.
Warren has also attended her fair share of AIPAC policy conferences and annual dinners hosted by the AIPAC Boston chapter; she counts Steve Grossman, a former Massachusetts treasurer who was also president of AIPAC, among her supporters.
She Co-Sponsored the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act
In 2014, the Senate overwhelmingly approved the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act; Senator Warren was a cosponsor of the legislation, which branded Israel a “major partner,” increased US weapons stockpiles in Israel, and presaged more cooperation in defense, energy, and agriculture between the two nations.
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Campaign Promise: “To me, it is a moral imperative to support and defend Israel, and I am committed to ensuring its long-term security by maintaining its qualitative military edge. Israel must be able to defend itself from the serious threats it faces from terrorist organizations to hostile states, including Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and others…As a United States Senator, I will work to ensure Israel’s security and success, and I will support active American leadership to help bring peace and security to Israel and the region.”
She Supported Israel’s Right to Defend itself During 2014 War with Gaza
Elizabeth Warren supported Senate Resolution 498, which expressed “support for the State of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks” from Hamas. In defense of her vote, which was controversial in some circles, Elizabeth Warren said, “When Hamas puts its rocket-launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself.”
She Vigorously Defended Iron Dome Funding
In 2014 during Israel’s war with Gaza, Warren voted for increased funding for Israel’s missile defense system, adding when challenged, that “Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren’t many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law…And we very much need an ally in that part of the world.”
She Voted to Protect Israel from Iran
Warren was one of the first Democrats to declare her support for an Iranian nuclear agreement last summer. Though controversial in the pro-Israel community, the deal has been praised by most in the security community, including Israel’s top general, as a “strategic turning point.”
At the end of the day, if the questions from the Israel detractors get too tough, you can count on her to be able to pull a fast one:
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Two State Solution
Campaign Promise: “I am also a strong proponent of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which I believe to be in the interest of Israel and the United States, with a Jewish, democratic state of Israel and a state for the Palestinian people. The U.S. can and should play an active role in promoting a diplomatic resolution to the conflict that is agreed to by the parties, but I do not believe that a lasting peace can be imposed from the outside or that either party should take unilateral steps – such as the Palestinians’ application for UN membership – that move the parties further away from negotiations.”
She Refused to Sign a Letter Opposing Terrorist Group Hamas and Unilateral Palestinian Measures
In 2014, 88 senators co-signed a letter urging the Administration to take steps to ensure that no US assistance to the Palestinians is diverted to the terror group Hamas, to support the Palestinian Authority’s effort to govern in Gaza, and to discourage Palestinian unilateral measures at the UN and the ICC, noting that these measures would “undermine the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.” Elizabeth Warren was one of only 12 Senators who did not sign onto this letter.
She Rejects Pressuring Israel to End Settlement Expansion
Historically, Warren has “rejected the idea of leveraging American funding to pressure Israel not to expand the building of West Bank settlements.”
Nathan Guttman contributed reporting for this piece.