Stefanik returns from trip to Israel

Stefanik

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik returned from her eight-day trip to Israel talking about artificial intelligence, a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and “strains of anti-Semitism” within the Democratic Party.

Stefanik, a Republican from Schuylerville whose district spans northern New York, took the trip along with 72 members of Congress, 41 Democrats and 31 Republicans, the largest delegation to Israel ever from the 535 total members of Congress.

She had a schedule packed with back-to-back meetings and briefings, including conversations with Israeli military leaders and a discussion with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She also visited regions close to the Gaza Strip, a self-governing Palestinian territory mostly surrounded by Israel, and the Golan Heights, an Israeli-occupied region captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. In March, U.S. President Donald Trump broke with global convention and declared that the U.S. recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

“Israel and the U.S. have a special relationship. They are one of our most important allies around the world,” Stefanik said. “We have shared values when it comes to democratic values, when it comes to freedom of different faiths in their region. The fact that they are this thriving democracy is an anomaly in the Middle East today.”

Stefanik said Israel faces border threats from Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“It’s pretty clear, when you’re in Israel, they are in a very tough neighborhood,” Stefanik said. “To see how small, geographically, the country is, and how really almost every border, except maybe the Jordanian border, they are under severe security challenges.”

She said she visited an “Iron Dome” missile defense system the U.S. worked to develop with Israel. One of these defense systems is estimated to have a 90% success rate in intercepting inbound rockets.

“We were able to hear from some of the individuals and families that live on the kibbutz that face these sirens from rockets that go off on a weekly basis,” Stefanik said. “To hear their personal stories was pretty powerful.”

Stefanik said she is proud of her pro-Israel record and that she has been there twice before as a congresswoman.

She spoke out against two congresswomen who did not take the trip, and around whom there has been political controversy around recently — U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.

“Every member of Congress, when they’re a freshman … every Democrat, every Republican is invited to go on this delegation to Israel,” Stefanik said. “Both Tlaib and Omar chose not to accept that invitation.”

The two had chosen to skip the congressional trip and were planning their own visit to Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied West Bank on a tour organized by a Palestinian group.

“They should have gone on the visit with the rest of their colleagues; there were 41 Democrats on that visit,” Stefanik said. “I think it’s a shame that they did not go with the bipartisan delegation because we also had a meeting with the Palestinian Authority (in Ramallah in the West Bank). That’s important to get their perspective, when it comes to the regional challenges and a two-state solution.”

Omar and Tlaib were then banned from Israel by Netanyahu for their expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. This came hours after Trump tweeted that for Netanyahu to let these congresswomen visit would be “a show of great weakness” by Israel, and that Omar and Tlaib “hate Israel & all Jewish people.”

Netanyahu later said a “humanitarian request” by Tlaib to visit her grandmother in the West Bank would be accepted “on the condition that she pledges not to promote boycotts against Israel during her visit.” Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, rejected this offer.

Omar was still banned from the country at that time.

“I’m very disappointed in how they’ve conducted themselves when it comes to issues related to Israel,” Stefanik said. “I think we are seeing an increase in anti-Semitic rhetoric coming from members of Congress, which I deeply oppose.”

Asked if Omar and Tlaib have said anti-Semitic things or are anti-Semitic themselves, Stefanik said “yes.”

Stefanik disagreed with Trump’s comments that Jewish people who vote for Democrats have a “total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

“In my opinion, you vote for a Democrat, you’re being very disloyal to Jewish people, and you’re being very disloyal to Israel,” Trump said.

“I think some of the concerns with the president’s rhetoric was that he said ‘voting Democratic,’” Stefanik said. “I think that you can show your support for Israel whether you’re voting Republican or Democratic. I frankly think the Republican Party has proven its strong support for Israel, and I think what’s concerning is you have elected officials who are Democrats who are, on a weekly basis at this point, not only saying anti-Semitic rhetoric but really putting Israel under threat in terms of their right to exist.

“I disagree with the president broadly saying that you can’t be pro-Israel if you vote Democrat — I think you can be pro-Israel and vote for Republicans or Democrats — but I think the real challenge, nationally, right now is within the Democratic Party, you have strains of anti-Semitism that are very, very concerning.”

When asked if Republicans are showing the same problems, Stefanik said they are not.

“I don’t believe so,” Stefanik said. “If you look at the headlines, it is consistently two elected officials within the Democratic Party that continue to make news with very concerning statements.”

Stefanik has previously called for Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, to resign after racist remarks. While she specifically referred to his “white-nationalist,” “white-supremacist” and “racist” words, part of his racism involved anti-Semitism, including retweeting neo-Nazi Mark Collett, saying he sought out the “Polish perspective” on the Holocaust and meeting in Austria with members of the Freedom Party, a far-right political party founded by a former Nazi SS officer.

The Enterprise was not able to contact Stefanik after this was researched to ask for clarification on her statement.

Stefanik said Democrats have also been critical of Omar and Tlaib, including Max Rose, a Democratic representative from Staten Island who said they do not speak for the party.

She also cited Eliot Engel, a Democrat representing the Bronx who is chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, who said he disagrees with Omar and Tlaib but asked Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. to let them in.

Israel and Palestine have been locked in a decades-long conflict over territory, and Stefanik said she supports a two-state solution, which would involve splitting up the region into two individual countries.

“I support a two-state solution,” Stefanik said, “but it has to recognize Israel’s right to exist.”

She said the two-state solution is preferred broadly by the members of the delegation that visited and that it has been pursued by recent presidents, including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

“What has been such a challenge is there have been numerous offers for a two-state solution made by Israel, and they were not taken by the Palestinians,” Stefanik said.

Stefanik said the U.S. and Israel share a similar commitment to technological innovation.

“Israel is known as a ‘startup nation,’” she said. “If you look at the number of technology companies that are founded in Israel, it is a huge number. They are one of the most competitive places in the world to start a tech company. … Israel has more companies on the NASDAQ than all of Europe combined.”

Stefanik has a say in U.S. military policy because she sits on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. She also is a member of several subcommittees and caucuses related to military intelligence and readiness.

Stefanik said she addressed this innovative link when she met with Netanyahu, asking him to create a partnership with the U.S. in artificial intelligence development.

Israel, she said, is tech-savvy and a partner of the U.S. in missile defense capabilities.

Stefanik wrote a bill that founded the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, which is chaired by the former CEO and former chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt.

“So when you think about the amount of data in the world today, you can also think about the amount of data the U.S. Department of Defense — whether it’s the Army, the Navy or the Air Force — all this information they’re gleaning,” Stefanik said. “We need to be able to analyze that data very quickly. AI capabilities allow us to do that.”

She said that while AI would be used to analyze data, individuals would still be in charge of making decisions. She added that she wants to assess potential ethical questions that crop up about AI.

“We want to take a very different path than China, for example,” Stefanik said. “They have citizen scores of Chinese citizens.”

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(36) comments

hermit thrush

ilhan omar really has made a couple problematic statements about israel, but the things that have come out of trump's mouth are vastly worse. this is nothin but a partisan hit job from elise.

hermit thrush

*nothing

Farmer Liz

This is so rich. She supports the most racist president in the history of our country, and has the nerve to cry antisemitism against her fellow congresswomen. Glass houses, black kettle, and all that..

Jackie

Well done Elise. You get it!

Nice_Commenter

Yes! Conservatives love Jewish people! Go Tucker Carlson's website the Daily Caller, then look at the comments section. The Conservatives there certainly talk about Jews a great deal! Lots of "fun" nicknames for Jewish people. Ask yourself who you know who hates Jews, then ask yourself who they voted for. I have family members who openly say they hate Jews and 100% of them are Republican. The factthey are trying to label Democrats with this (and people believe it) is why "Conservatism" is a cult.

Holmes -- the real one

Projection, plain and simple. Part and parcel of the Trump technique.

Krsparks

Interesting that she forgets that her president just insulted American Jews by calling them dumb. And just today Rockland County NY GOP is exposed for video released that's full of hate. I'm all about supporting Israel but maybe some of their actions need to be called out. We send them a great deal of money and nobody questions it. The GOP should be informed that abortions are free and legal in Israel.

Holmes

The left has nothing but hate and rage as Trump succeeds.

Nice_Commenter

Succeeds in destroying our economy. Succeeds in making the biggest budget deficit ever. Succeeds in spending $100 million for the security costs for his golf outings. Success!

Holmes -- the real one

LOL. "....succeeds...."

LAW

That's a lie, Comrade.

Holmes -- the real one

You know, this kind of piece on Stefanik just underscores the impression that "NNY360" considers its readership to be gullible and ready to be spoon fed whatever tainted pablum is on the conservative shelf.



Well, that and the "opinion poll" on what is your favorite potato chip.

Scoot24

I can see it bothers you when the usually liberal media prints an article that doesn't support the brainwash by your belittling of others intelligence. We know you progressives are (think) smarter than everyone else. You do realize that Stefanick will win by a landslide again.

Holmes -- the real one

Thanks Scoot24 for the chuckle. "..usually liberal media..."

Selah.

So, I am guessing that your notion of belittling intelligence is equated to mentioning the poll on potato chip preferences. Let me assure you that I view it simply as a reflection of what NNY360 sees as the important issues on the community mind.

Surely you know that gullibility is not limited to those who bring little intellectual energy to the table. Gullibility is most prevalent in those who limit themselves to a narrow range of introspection and who seldom employ critical thinking.

Gullibility is what Stefanik is banking on as far as votes are concerned.

Airball55

Hogwash...this is always been a left leaning paper and you know it. I find it fascinating that if an article comes out that represents someone like Elise (not your party of choice) in a positive light you always go down this road. Then again we can always print articles that involve folks more along your thinking lines...like Bill Mahar who has openly rooted for people to die and for the economy to tank so hard working tax paying folks lose their savings. Pathetic. Critical thinking?? I don't see much of that in your comments but I do see closed thinking. Present ideas and solutions. Elise is doing what she was sent to do, work for her constituents, serve on her committees with the utmost class and professionalism and support tax breaks and deregulation. Vote her out if you don't like it. But Tedra isn't the answer, you need someone in the middle of the political spectrum if you wish to beat Elise...who continues to shine.

Nice_Commenter

Trump started out his campaign with the racist lie that Obama was born in Kenya. Basically if a news outlet refuses to print Trump's open and obvious lies they are left leaning.

Holmes -- the real one

Nobody should ever complain about NNY360's assessment of the intelligence of the readers they are attempting to appeal to.

Today's opinion poll:

"What's the statute of limitations on spoilers?"

LAW

Oddly enough, you told the truth for once.



The Republican pablum is tainted and that's all they have to offer.



As Trump, the Leader of the REPUBLICAN PARTY, boasts "I like stupid people".

Holmes -- the real one

Elise -- might as well be a sock puppet for Trump.

Airball55

Well done as usual Elise. Although your comments on the antisemitism and the democratic party aren't deepest ever spoken (it's obvious this is so true) it is nice to see true representation visiting a crucial ally of ours. Good work...from a full brained supporter

Nice_Commenter

Yes, Conservatives live Jewish people. Go to the comments section of any Right Wing web site and you will find lots of fun nicknames for Jewish people.

Scoot24

Don't you love how the liberals/progressives think they are smarter than everyone else?

Nice_Commenter

Its called facts. Look at who the top half of the high school class voted for, and who the bottom half voted for. If you are a scientist you are most likely a Democrat. If you are an Evangelical who thinks the Bible was written in English you are probably a Republican.

Scoot24

No stereotyping there. You and your elitist friends on here continue to prove your smarter than everyone else attitude is killing the Democrat party. BTW, I was in the top 10% of my high school class and top 25% of my college class and I am a registered Independent having the ability to look at each issue for what it is without getting caught up in what party supports it. You, on the other hand can only be all liberal due to your history of anti anything not liberal. Being confident in your beliefs is different than arrogance.




Kevin_Beary_is_racist

How is “Make America Great Again” working out for the North Country? Seems like the area has had a total loss in the job numbers each year Trump has been president.

progressivextian

Then why do 71% of Jewish voters vote Democratic?

Nice_Commenter

Opposing apartheid in South Africa didn't make you anti-white. What a sad joke, and the hilarity is that many of her supporters are anti-semitic. As our president said "fine people".

Airball55

Not true. Many supporters of both sides can carry that thought. Don't be like the other RL on here. I personally am a liberal through and through in regards to people personal lives and right to believe or live how they want in regards to sex, drugs, etc. Fiscally mostly a conservative. I also voted for Elise. I also voted for Bill Owens. See the problem with the typical broad stroke of the anti-right sentiment on here? Well...maybe you can't sadly.

Holmes -- the real one

All manner of nutcases can "carry that thought" but let's be real -- the majority of those who do are ultra "conservative" fascists and republicans, not democrats. The so-called "evangelicals," although they claim to support the Jews, see Israel as the location of the apocalyptic end times drama and they view the Jews as rejecting the true Messiah and as doomed for their unbelief.

A person can call themselves anything they want -- the real test is what do they do. And -- although talk is cheap etc., insults are actions -- and actions that tell a lot about their source and nothing about who they are aimed at.

Airball55

Goodness...do you actually believe what you write?? LOL. But we are in agreement on the second paragraph. 100%. This is exactly why we are getting what we are getting. A tweeting nutjob and his enemies who have gone off the deep end to sack his you know what while forgetting why they were elected in the first place. I know of a writer on here who wants to "scourge" the earth of Republicans...Ironically you all side by it. Speaking of actions....Hypocrisy at it's finest. The Times allows this hate speech, but, by the first amendment it's allowable I suppose. Trump's presidency has exposed the absolute divide. I would have never thought that the hate is as deep as it is on either side of the aisle but after listening to Biden, Harris, Cuomo, Sanders, et al...it is a proven fact. Sadly, they are lifetime politicians. Trump, just a sideshow entertainer who has exposed the failure of the ultra liberal left. And the party has done nothing to help it's chances. This is also reflective of your comment on talk being cheap.

Holmes -- the real one

Re: Airball55's reply

Yes, Airball55, I do believe what I write.

Yes, it's disturbing and sad that it's true -- but it's true.



And if you are objecting to my statements on the evangelical view of Israel, it’s role vis a vis “the end times,” or the fundamentalist “Christian” view of the Jews, you have only to spend a little time in their fold.



Taking the bothsiderism approach may feel nice but it doesn’t reflect the facts. I prefer facts and I stick with that when I comment.

rdsouth

Isn't Stefanik supporting deficit increasing measures and impositions on private lives? Bet you're disappointed.

Airball55

Not sure what you are getting at here specifically but feel free to post a link. I know she 1. supported the tax cut. 2. Helped small business all over with record setting regulatory cuts 3. Did all this while getting crucial grant money to this area for needs that were overdue...and so on. As for the left side of NY, Mr. Cuomo...well, we need not go there. Now...if we can get the federal government to address Health Care...we are all on the same page. The Affordable Health Care act has been anything but for many middle class families and small businesses. Mine included.

Nice_Commenter

If you are voting for Republicans due to "fiscal conservatism" you are sadly mistaken. Historically the largest increases in government spending come when Republicans take power. Did spending go down even one bit under Trump? Of course not, he has blown over $100 million on security for his golf outings.



I am 100% correct in my assertions, Republicans are ignorant. They say they are "fiscally conservative" but when you ask them facts about numbers they draw a blank.

Airball55

And here comes the name calling. I am enjoying my tax break. I am enjoying the job numbers in record setting fashion. But those jobs aren't coming back...remember when that was said. Spending isn't the only issue in regards to fiscal conservatism or whatever you wish to call it. Look at NYS...your democratic governor and legislature. Crushing a state where the brightest leave daily...record taxation and regulation. But hey, maybe we can charge for license plates and build another casino..maybe that will work. Sigh...

rockloper

Like anyone with at least one brain would care what she says.

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