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Mar 26 2019
Trump’s Golan Decision Is Moral and Strategic
The vicious regime in Syria shouldn’t be rewarded for trying to conquer Israel in 1967.
By U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham
March 25, 2019
President Trump’s tweeted last week that the U.S. will formally recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel. The decision is strategically wise and morally important.
Israel secured the Golan Heights in 1967 after the Six Day War, a defensive conflict Israel fought in response to attacks from Syria and other Arab nations. Since then, the Golan has been a critical part of Israel’s defenses.
I witnessed that dynamic two weeks ago as I stood atop the Golan with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel. With Syria, ravaged by civil war, at our backs, we talked about the Golan’s strategic importance as high ground bordering an unfriendly nation. Before the Six Day War, Syria used the Golan to shell Israeli towns, villages and farms in the Galilee indiscriminately. Those dark days ended with Israel’s victory in the Six Day War.
Any thought of returning the Golan to the aggressor—Syria and the butcher of Damascus, Bashar Assad—would be disastrous for Israel, morally wrong and strategically dangerous.
Rewarding Syria for attacking Israel in 1967 and again in 1973 would dramatically change the cost-benefit calculations of other expansionist dictators. When a state decides whether to invade a neighbor, it has to take account of the risk that it will lose land instead of gaining it. If the Golan Heights are returned, it tells invaders that territory they lose will eventually be given back. That would unburden aggressors from much of the risk involved in starting wars—a recipe for more aggression.
Mr. Trump’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty in the Golan also sends an unequivocal message of condemnation of the Assad regime, which since 2011 has conducted a horrific campaign against Syrian citizens, raining barrel bombs and chemical weapons down on unarmed civilians. For Mr. Assad and his henchmen not to pay a price for a conflict in which around 500,000 people have been killed and countless atrocities have been committed would again be immoral and dangerous. It sends a message to every dictator around the world that there is no penalty for murdering your own citizens en masse.
Another negative consequence of the Syrian civil war is the foothold Iran has gained in the country. Tehran and its proxies, especially the terror group Hezbollah, played a major role saving the Assad regime. Their presence in Syria opens a new front in their war against Israel. As the U.S. redeploys forces to Syria, it is important to demonstrate America’s determination to confront Iran, which seeks hegemony in the region. Recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan helps convey that the U.S. stands with Israel and won’t pressure Jerusalem to take steps that would undermine its own security.
Mr. Trump has been one of the most effective American leaders in strengthening the country’s relationship with Israel. His decision to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel should prove yet another major, lasting achievement for his administration.
Unfortunately, there exists the possibility that Mr. Trump’s decision could be undone by a future president who is a friend to Syria or a foe of Israel. To guard against that possibility, Congress should immediately vote on the legislation proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Mike Gallagher, putting both chambers on record in support of the Trump policy on the Golan.
Mr. Graham, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from South Carolina.
Mar 26 2019
I support the Second Amendment. It’s a critical piece of our Constitution and our nation’s history.
While Republicans and Democrats – on this Committee and across America – can disagree on the Second Amendment, what’s clear to me is that recent tragedies in the United States are examples of a common problem – a failure to identify and lessen risk from individuals who may be showing signs of distress and the willingness to hurt themselves or others.
It is my hope that today’s hearing will shed light on an area where I believe bipartisan support could be achieved.
The use of Extreme Risk Protection Orders also known as “Red Flag” orders have shown promise in the states.
While no two state laws are the same, Red Flag laws generally work by a family or household member or law enforcement officer petitioning a court to temporarily restrict an individual’s ability to buy or access firearms. The burden of proof is placed on law enforcement to prove the person in question has become an imminent danger and there is a Due Process right for the individual to challenge the determination.
This is not a red or blue state issue. Politically, these laws are found in red, blue, and purple states.
In March 2018, the Trump Administration called on every state to enact Extreme Risk Protection Orders. President Trump also directed the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to states – at their request – regarding establishing and implementing Extreme Risk Protection Orders.
Outside groups with opposing views of the Second Amendment – the National Rifle Association and Giffords Law Center – have also expressed support for Red Flag legislation.
As we saw with the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, all too often individuals who pose a danger do everything except take an ad out in the paper in terms of sending warning signs.
In response to that terrible act, Florida passed a Red Flag law over a year ago. Here are some of the results:
- 21 million people call Florida home. Only about 450 ERPOs were ordered as of July 31, 2018.
- In Broward County, 108 people were impacted, including 28 cases where the person was accused of domestic violence, 45 from people who were suffering from mental illness and 34 people who were contemplating suicide.
- According to numbers from Pinellas County, the majority of risk protection cases have involved people with histories of mental illness who threatened to hurt themselves.
Today’s hearing will focus on the possibility of incentivizing states to create their own Red Flag laws – which would be unique to their states.
It is the start of a discussion. It is a learning opportunity for us all. Hopefully it can be productive and make our towns, communities, cities and states a little safer.
Quick Question and Answer on Red Flag Protection Orders
March 26, 2019
Why is Chairman Graham holding this hearing?
- Graham has been a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and supports a dialogue on the creation of ‘Red Flag’ Extreme Risk Protection Orders for people who show significant signs of potential harm to themselves or others.
- This hearing will be to learn more about the possibility of incentivizing states to pass them at the state level.
- It’s a learning opportunity about what works and what does not.
What is a ‘Red Flag’ Protection Order?
- Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws allow families, household members, or law enforcement officers to petition a court directly for an order temporarily restricting a person’s access to firearms if they show signs of potential harm to themselves or others.
What does the Trump Administration say about ‘Red Flag’ Extreme Risk Protection Orders?
- In March 2018, the Trump Administration called on every State to adopt an Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs).
- President Trump also directed the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to States, at their request, on establishing and implementing ERPOs.
The NRA supports the Second Amendment. What do they say about ‘Red Flag’ legislation?
- The National Rifle Association is supportive of Red Flag legislation at the state level.
- As Chris Cox, executive director for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action said, "We need to stop dangerous people before they act. So, Congress should provide funding for states to adapt risk protection orders.”
Where are ‘Red Flag’ ERPO’s in effect?
- Thirteen states including some of the most pro and anti-Second Amendment states have passed these type of laws.
- Vice President Mike Pence, when he served as Governor of Indiana, upheld and enforced a Red Flag Protection Order.
- Florida passed a law after the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
How has the Florida ‘Red Flag’ law worked in its first year?
- As of July 31, 2018 about 450 out of 21 million people who live in Florida were subject to an ERPO.
- In Broward County, 108 people were impacted including 28 cases where the person was accused of domestic violence, 45 from people who were suffering from mental illness and 34 people who were contemplating suicide.
- Numbers from another county, Pinellas, shows the majority of risk protection cases have involved people with histories of mental illness who threatened to hurt themselves.