WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) vowed today to block all legislation that “divides” the United States and Israel from coming to the floor for consideration.
“All the words in the world mean nothing if you do not back them up with actions,” Ryan told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Monday evening.
“That is why, two years ago, when the rockets were falling on Tel Aviv, the House approved emergency support for the Iron Dome. That is why, within just two months of my becoming speaker, we voted to fund every penny of our security assistance commitment,” he said. “That is why my first overseas trip as speaker will be to return to Israel.”
Ryan is headed to the Middle East over the Easter break.
“A friend is a priority. And America’s leaders should act like it,” he said. “Now, that’s what I think most Americans believe, on both sides of the aisle. But I do hear people raising doubts every now and then. They say things like: ‘The Middle East is a mess. It’s none of our business. Why are we involved? Why are we picking sides?'”
“They say our alliance is not an asset, but a liability. They say that it hamstrings America, that it cuts against our interests. And in my experience, it does us no good to airily wave off our opponents — or to dismiss them as narrow-minded. That doesn’t bridge the divide. That deepens it.”
Ryan said that the U.S. “learned the hard way” in World War II “that even if you don’t go looking for trouble, it has a way of finding you.”
“The threats are very different now. North Korea thumbs its nose at the world as it plays with its nuclear weapons. Iran openly backs tyrants and funds terrorist groups as it jockeys for dominance in the Middle East. An emboldened Russia is only too happy to try to reclaim its neighbors as client states. And with the rise of ISIS, an even deadlier strain of Islamist extremism has taken hold,” he said. “Once again we face an aggressive militant ideology—with an assist from a gang of rogue states.”
“And why is our relationship with Israel so important? Because in the fight against terrorism and proliferation, our interests are one and the same. For the terrorists, Israel is the first target, and we are the ultimate one. That’s because we share the same values.”
Ryan received cheers when he called the Iran nuclear deal “terrible” and the “worst of our lifetime — not since 1939 have we seen horrible foreign policy like this Iran deal.”
“I don’t think it’s an accident that every few months we hear of Iran launching yet more ballistic missiles. Instead of dismantling Iran’s nuclear program, we legitimized it. This is a huge threat to Israel. And it is a threat to our country too,” he said.
“But whatever you think about the Iran deal, I want to make something clear: Whether you opposed it or supported it, whether you are optimistic or skeptical, it is your right to petition your government on any issue at any time. And if anybody questions that right, I just want you to know that we stand with you.”