Pennsylvania Congressman Brendan Boyle visited Penn to discuss the current state of Israel and its relationship with the United States.
The Penn Israel Public Affairs Committee, Penn Government and Politics Association, and Penn Democrats co-hosted an event for Boyle, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives, to discuss the U.S.-Israel relationship on Feb. 12 in Houston Hall.
While GPA provides ways for students to exchange and implement different political values, Penn Dems campaigns at local and national levels to promote progressive political ideas. PIPAC, according to its official website, aims to educate “the current issues and challenges surrounding the U.S.-Israel relationship.” It supports “the U.S.-Israel alliance through involvement in the American political process” and works “on and off Penn's campus to bolster support for a Jewish, democratic state of Israel living in peace and security.”
During the event, Boyle said that while "Israel is stronger today than any time in the history of the modern state," with its strategic advantage over its neighbors in terms of weapon and armed forces capabilities, Israel's future is more threatened and uncertain today than at any time since 1948.
Some of the reasons that Boyle mentioned include the United Nations' bias against Israel, many European countries' foreign policies that differ from those of the United States, and the worldwide Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement aimed to pressure Israel economically and politically amidst its violation of international laws.
Boyle said there is a “growing international effort to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist."
“Israel’s standing in the world under Netanyahu is in a lower position today than it was at the beginning of his tenure," he added.
Currently in his second term, Boyle represents Pennsylvania’s 13th congressional district and sits in the House Committee on the Budget and House Foreign Affairs Committee. Last year, Boyle introduced the House Resolution 276 that aimed to include Holocaust education into U.S. public school curricula.
Students attending the event had an opportunity to have a dialogue with Boyle, who is politically experienced in the Middle Eastern politics.
College sophomore and GPA member Justin Iannacone said he was glad that Boyle could speak to Pennsylvanian constituents and that students could converse with representatives from this area.
Boyle also discussed his predictions on the future relationship of the United States and Israel.
Boyle noted that he doesn’t think the United States will soon change its support of Israel, though he added that the current affairs' trajectory “would increasingly create conflict between the United States and our European allies.”
When asked by an audience member about his view on Israeli settlements on the West Bank, Boyle said that continuing settlements can be a deterrent to the two-state solution, which calls for both Palestinians and Israelis to coexist peacefully within recognized borders, and has the risk of pushing even moderates into opposition of supporting Israel.
Boyle said it is important to stay respectful of each country's political sovereignty in domestic affairs, but continuous building of Israeli settlements make the support and defense of Israel challenging.
“We are not questioning necessarily the right to do it, but we are questioning the wisdom in doing it,” Boyle said.
This is the second time that Boyle came to Penn. Last year, Boyle also talked about the U.S-Israel relationship in a similar event hosted by PIPAC and Penn Dems.
PIPAC political committee chair and College sophomore Ariela Stein said PIPAC tries to bring different local congressmen to Penn to discuss the importance of the U.S.-Israel alliance.
By bringing “congressmen and other people from both sides of the aisle,” Stein said the event hopes to “support Israel from a bipartisan standpoint.”
PIPAC president and College junior Samara Wyant, the former circulation manager for The Daily Pennsylvanian, agreed. While she said a pro-Israel stance is often associated with right-wing politics, Wyant said "there's different flavors of being pro-Israel."
"I think this event really solidifies the fact that we have a congressmen coming who didn't even go to Trump's inauguration but yet is one of the strongest supporters of Israel in Congress."
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