The Strategic Imperative of U.S. Military Assistance to Israel

Earlier this month, the world watched in horror as Iranian-backed terrorists went from door to door, kidnapping, killing and injuring innocent Israelis. More Jews were murdered this past Oct. 7 than on any single day since the Holocaust.

As Israel confronts these barbaric attacks, it is not enough for American leaders to rhetorically support the Jewish state. Israel needs concrete military assistance to defend itself, which Congress should provide immediately. The United States must also do everything it can to stanch the flow of money that allows Iran to support such terror operations.

Since Israel’s creation 75 years ago, the United States has been unwavering in its support of Israel, which has emerged as the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance. This investment has borne fruit, propelling Israel’s armed forces to the vanguard of technological advancement and nurturing a robust defense industrial base in the country. Such strides have not only fortified Israel but have also advanced our strategic interests and are helping defend American lives.

In recent years, voices advocating a reduction or even cessation of military assistance to Israel have emerged. These calls have already done real harm. After Hamas terrorists launched nearly 4,500 rockets at Israel over 11 days in May 2021, Congress took nearly a year to approve funds to replenish Israel’s stock of interceptors for the Iron Dome missile shield.

That delay means that as Hamas fires even greater numbers of rockets, Israel has fewer interceptors to protect its civilians than it needs or than it could have had if Congress acted expeditiously.

The opposition to assistance for Israel is disconnected from the prevailing realities in the Middle East — where Israel works toward peace with its Arab neighbors, including Saudi Arabia. Oct. 7 reaffirmed the necessity of our strong support of Israel, particularly the supplies it needs to continue defending itself against the Iran-backed offensive: Iron Dome interceptors, precision-guided munitions and spare parts.

It also affirmed who the enemies of regional peace are: Iran, its proxies, and Salafi-jihadist factions wreaking havoc on Israelis. In addition to resupplying Israel, Congress and the administration must also work to disarm and defund this Iranian-led threat network. Tehran should not be allowed to profit from selling oil to American adversaries such as China, taking Americans hostage, or arming the Russian war machine.

Proposed reductions in aid for our partners and windfalls for our adversaries signal a wavering commitment to our partners’ security. The withdrawal from Afghanistan serves as a stark reminder of the repercussions of reneging on our promises. That retreat led to an erosion of our credibility, a vacuum swiftly exploited by Russia, China and Iran in their pursuit of aggressive actions across the globe.

We must heed this cautionary tale and avoid repeating history’s costly missteps. Failure to support Israel, or defang Iran, now would only further embolden other U.S. adversaries, not least China as it eyes Taiwan.

It is critical that the United States remain a committed partner to Israel and fortify the foundations of peace, stability and prosperity in the region, securing a brighter and safer future for both nations.

August Pfluger, a former Air Force F-22 fighter pilot who flew nearly 300 combat hours in the Middle East, represents the 11th District of Texas in Congress. Michael Makovsky, a former Pentagon official, is president and CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America.

Originally Published in Washington Times.