The United States has been a long-time friend and ally of the Jewish state of Israel. For decades, our country has rightly supported the nation of Israel as one of our greatest allies on the international stage. But in recent years, Israel has been subject to an increasing amount of unfair criticisms. 

Since its inception, Israel is a shining example of western civilization and democracy in a region of the world that has been characterized by chaos and terror for years. The Middle Eastern countries and terrorist organizations that heap so much scorn upon Israel would certainly benefit if they followed Israel’s example. However, many in this part of the world simply despise western values. Additionally, Israel has been an indispensable ally in the war on terror.

The unfair criticisms hurled at Israel stem from land disputes with the Palestinians. While I certainly sympathize with Palestinians who want a peaceful solution to their disagreement with Israel, we cannot forget the influence that the terrorist organization of Hamas—who is funded by the Iranian government, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism—exerts on the Palestinians. Just recently, a senior Hamas official even went as far as saying that Palestinians across the world have a duty to kill all Jews. Israelis have been supportive of a two-state solution with a sovereign Palestinian state, but as long as Hamas continues to target civilians, including women and children, Israel has every right to defend itself.

Last month, we passed a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives condemning the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is designed to destroy Israel’s economy. Leaders of the BDS movement have repeatedly refused to distance themselves from Hamas. Generally speaking, people around the world who participate in the movement refuse to do business with companies from Israel. While I of course supported the resolution to condemn the BDS movement, I was disappointed that the measure was simply non-binding words.

Rather than etch anti-BDS sentiment into policy like the Senate has done in a bipartisan fashion, we simply condemned it. The Senate passed a bill earlier this year by a margin of 77-23, that actually puts some teeth on the condemnation. It is not—as some people have suggested—an infringement on the freedom of speech. The legislation does not prohibit people or companies from participating in BDS either. It simply allows states and local governments to refuse to do business with those who participate in BDS. In fact, courts have ruled that the U.S. government has a substantial interest in preventing American citizens from participating in the BDS movement.

It is our duty to stand with our Israeli friends, who are courageous defenders of western values. We must not allow those who sympathize with the terrorist organization of Hamas to dangerously control the narrative.