An intimate but influential assortment of civically-engaged community members gathered on Tuesday night (Mar. 18) at the home of Israel activist and power broker Dr. Joseph Frager in Queens, New York. The 30 or so area residents, among whom were esteemed rabbis, entrepreneurs, publishers and pundits, had come together to hear from Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte. They, in turn, expressed their own support for the senator – verbally and financially – as she prepares for an international junket beginning in Israel this week.
Why host a fundraiser for for a New Hampshire legislator in Queens, New York, you ask? As it turns out, the freshman senator has distinguished herself in a number of ways that have proven of particular interest to New York's Jewish community. In particular: her hardline stance on Iran's burgeoning nuclear weapons program, and her unwavering support for Israel even as Secretary of State John Kerry issues statements undermining U.S. support for the Jewish state as such. It is perhaps for these reasons that she found herself in the home of one of America's most prominent Zionists. And to borrow a line from Dr. Frager “We [American friends of Israel] need all the support we can possibly get.”
Sen. Ayotte's talk covered a wide range of topics, taking aim at what she characterized as the “failed” foreign policy of the Obama administration. And the majority of those remarks focused on our country's weak-willed approach to thwarting Iran's nuclear ambitions, as well as its latest series of missteps in attempting to broker some sort of peace agreement between Israel's government and the Palestinian Authority.
Referring to Iran's nuclear program, Ayotte asserted that we are at a “critical moment” vis-à-vis the safety and security of not just Israel, but the United States as well, and that this risk “cannot be overstated.”
“We must do everything we can to dismantle and stop Iran's nuclear program,” the senator emphasized. Ayotte went on to argue that the current administration is too focused on reaching an agreement with Iran, rather on the actual terms of such an agreement, which must be both “transparent and enforceable” to be worthwhile.
Ayotte dismissed as “ridiculous” arguments that Iran must be allowed to pursue uranium enrichment for purposes of non-military research. “A peaceful nuclear program doesn't require secret underground facilities,” the senator quipped.
Citing intelligence reports that estimate Iran will have ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile) technology capable of reaching the U.S. east coast by sometime next year, the senator explained that a “fig leaf of an agreement,” though apparently deemed acceptable by the Obama administration, won't do anything to protect Israel, the United States, or the rest of the world.
Sen. Ayotte went on to express fears, based on her own discussions with foreign leaders, that America's acquiescence to Iranian nuclear weapons would cause Iran's Arab neighbors to feel a similar sense of entitlement, leading to an arms race throughout the Middle East. Thus, Ayotte concluded, the U.S. cannot accept an agreement that allows Iran to enrich uranium at all. She also called for new, stronger sanctions against the rogue nation, should they continue their nuclear activities in defiance of the international community.
Turning her attention to the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Sen. Ayotte described Secretary of State John Kerry's approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict as “naive.” She questioned the Secretary of State's ability to flesh out a meaningful agreement between Israel and the Palestinians when the Palestinian Authority will acknowledge neither Israels existence nor its right to self-determination, and Hamas adamantly refuses to renounce terrorism.
Addressing the imbalanced nature of the so-called peace process, the senator noted: “Israel has made so many concessions. I haven't seen the Palestinians make similar good faith gestures.”
Hearkening back to her earlier remarks, Ayotte expressed her support for Israel, should it feel forced to confront the Iranian threat directly.
“If Israel has to act beyond sanctions to end Iran's nuclear program,” the senator declared, “I will be there in the Senate to say that we have Israel's back.”