October 11, 2023

Watson Coleman Calls for Three-Pronged Approach to Foreign Aid in Response to Current Needs in Israel, Palestine, and Ukraine

Today, Congresswoman Watson Coleman released the following statement:
Three foreign aid challenges are facing our country simultaneously. The continued need to assist our ally Ukraine in its resistance to Russian aggression, the need to help our ally Israel in its defense against barbaric attacks by Hamas terrorists, and the growing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. In New Jersey, our diversity is our strength, our unity is our power. We are able to unite disparate voices into one shared family. Similarly, we must recognize that these three challenges must be met.
These challenges demand clear-eyed and level-headed leadership with an eye toward both justice and compassion. These are not contradictory goals. In fact, justice and compassion must move forward in concert.  Moments of international crisis such as this are best addressed with swift, diplomatic, and globally minded action focused on protecting humanitarian efforts first and foremost, as well as providing our allies with the material needs to defend themselves.
Ukraine’s national sovereignty continues to be denied by Vladimir Putin’s Russian forces. Atrocities have been committed against innocent civilians in Ukraine. Ukraine’s resilience in the face of superior military numbers has been nothing short of miraculous. The maintenance of Ukraine’s stability is a national security priority of the United States. A failure of the United States to defend its ally Ukraine would be a signal to Russia and other world powers that the United States’s pledge to its allies is shallow. Other allies including Israel, Taiwan, and Armenia would be at risk. 
Israel’s Iron Dome defense system has been tested and depleted by the thousands of rockets fired at Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah. While the sheer number of rockets overwhelmed the Iron Dome in places it successfully prevented an even greater loss of life than what was experienced. Soon Israel will need assistance in replenishing its Iron Dome system. 
At the same time, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, half of whom are children, are facing one of the greatest civilian humanitarian crises in decades. Even before the events of recent days over 90 percent of the over 2.1 million Gazans lacked access to clean drinking water. Four out of every five Gazans lived in poverty. It is one of the most densely populated places on earth. The comments from some members of the Israeli cabinet amount to threats of war crimes against the civilian population of Gaza. To date, over 950 people have been killed in Gaza, including at least 140 children. 
I have seen pain in the eyes of my fellow New Jerseyans, both Jewish and Muslim. That pain has manifested in many ways, from a deep fear, to an inconsolable grief, and an acute anger. 
I ask all those in pain to heed the call of the father of a young woman kidnapped by Hamas at a concert in southern Israel. Through his grief, he begged for his daughter’s safe return and with grace also begged for peace. “Enough with these wars,” he said. “The other side also has captives, the other side also has mothers that are weeping. We are two people with one father. Because of these things, let’s make real peace.
For far too long our leaders have failed the young people of Israel and Palestine. Most have never known a world without fear. The leaders of Israel, Palestine, and others owe it to the innocent children of the region to do better, to put pain, fear, and anger aside, to make a serious commitment to a peace based on justice and compassion, and leave their children a world based in dignity and mutual respect and end this cycle of violence.
These three crises require Congressional leadership to address. Sadly, Republicans have spent more than one week fighting amongst themselves and depriving the House of appropriate leadership. House rules strictly limit actions that can be taken without a Speaker in place. Democrats are united and look forward to getting back to the business of governing. Last night, while Republicans fought amongst themselves, Democrats voted by acclamation to renominate Congressman Hakeem Jeffries as their nominee for Speaker. Electing Speaker of the House Jeffries would signal to our allies that the United States takes its responsibilities seriously. If just six Republicans can put aside partisanship for the good of the country and vote for Congressman Jeffries, Congress can finally return to regular order and provide the assistance that is so desperately needed.