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MORE ANALYSIS on WHETHER the ISRAEL RESOLUTION is FOREIGN POLICY

Now, I was glad that several comments came as a result of the House of Delegates Israel resolution passed 70-2 last week.  I think most of my fellow conservatives were fascinated more with the dual walkout by a number of Democratic delegates to avoid the vote.

I wrote the post last week in about ten minutes.  I assumed that the issue would be self-evident once it was exposed to the readers.  But here’s what I received:

Scott asked:  Sandy, just out of curiosity, what is there in this resolution that contradicts US policy to Israel?

A valid question and here’s my answer based on these clauses:

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That support for the State of Israel be encouraged; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the cordial and mutually beneficial relationship between the Commonwealth of Virginia, the United States, and the State of Israel be encouraged; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the State of Israel has the right to live in peace and to defend itself, that Israel be recognized as neither an attacking force nor an occupier of the lands of others, and that peace can be achieved in the Middle East region only through a whole and united Israel governed under one law for all people; and, be it

Now I agree with every bit of it.  Every bit.  But my opinion is not relevant.  It also does not matter if it is congruent with US policy.  For an American state to “encourage” a “mutually beneficial relationship” between IT, the Federal Government, and a foreign nation is taking a foreign policy position.  It suggests that the Palestinians should not be supported and maybe other Arab states that have disputes with Israel – real or imagined – are not worthy of Virginia’s support.  It takes sides in a volatile area of the world.

Iran is mentioned in this resolution:

 WHEREAS, today, Israel faces continued threats to its safety and security from Iran and other Middle Eastern countries; now, therefore, be it

How is this not taking sides in a dispute between Israel and Iran?  I know full well what Senator Santorum once said (rightly) in a debate to Rep. Paul:  Iran is not Iceland!  I agree with a pro-Israel foreign policy.  BUT it is NOT Virginia’s call to make.  The Commonwealth is constitutionally incompetent to officially proclaim what US foreign policy should be.

The Biblical basis for Israel’s existence is hotly disputed.  There are some followers of Christ Jesus who say that the Bible promises the land to the Children of Israel.  Now, of course the Commonwealth cannot decide theological claims – that is another issue altogether – but to cite these Bible verses for the justification for this claim the Commonwealth is making in this resolution is also taking a foreign policy position:  That Israel is entitled to lands in the Middle East that are in dispute.

Again, yes I largely agree with it!  (I do offer this caveat:  Israel the nation today is not the same as Israel the people group in the Bible!)

I want to thank Steven Brodie Tucker for taking up for me.  Always appreciated.  Here is his answer to Scott:

Scott, it isn’t that States aren’t allowed to contradict foreign policy, it’s that they aren’t allowed to conduct it. Plus, this is the very point upon which the Federal Government sued Arizona in their attempt to pass an identical law to the federal laws which the federal government refused to enforce.

The next objection was cited by Paul Blumstein:

States are not practicing foreign policy since whatever the vote turns out to be has absolutely no power in that arena.

It does, however, remind the Federal Government that they are beholden to the people and this is how the people of Virginia would like their government to behave.

I respectfully disagree with Paul.  I believe such resolutions can cause conflict, get people hurt or killed and hinder Virginia business chances in Arab nations.  They can be used as a flash point – a Virginia citizen or businessperson or missionary might be killed or hurt by an angry mob that sees this resolution as a official governmental act – and IT IS AN OFFICIAL GOVERNMENTAL ACT!  There could be sensitive business/commerce negotiations worth millions of dollars – that could bring a factory here and employ OUR people – that could be hurt – the Arab company might decide to go to another state – or nation.  These are not meaningless words.  They have consequences.  Read my prior blog entries on related issues.

If Paul Blumstein wants to petition the Federal Government to conduct a pro-Israel foreign policy – I’ll sign!  He is right to do so.  Campaign for change.  Write for a political blog – start your own!  BUT the COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA cannot officially call for a pro-Israel foreign policy.

Here was Tucker’s response to Paul:

Sandy has a point. Though, at this point, since the US Constitution doesn’t mean anything anymore…. I don’t know how badly I feel about it. I suppose, however, that our Delegates should be principled and follow the Constitution, even if they are the only side of the aisle that does.

Yes Republicans and conservatives must be principled.  At all times.  Thanks to Paul Blumstein and Scott for coming by, reading and commenting.  Lest anyone misunderstand the foreign policy intent of this resolution, read who it is being sent to:

RESOLVED FINALLY, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates transmit a copy of this resolution to the President of the United States, the United States Secretary of State, the United States Secretary of Defense, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the President of the United States Senate, the Virginia Congressional Delegation, and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, requesting that they further disseminate copies of this resolution to their respective constituents so that they may be apprised of the sense of the General Assembly of Virginia in this matter.

We are sending this resolution to the President, the Secretary of State and to a foreign leader to “further disseminate copies of this resolution” in their own sphere of influence so all in those spheres will know that the “sense of the General Assembly of Virginia” is in this matter.  No.  I say this is an intervention into a foreign policy area that is not allowed by the Constitution.  And I plan to honor the oath I took when I took my first summer job – it was with the Federal Government (perhaps ironically but I was a military brat in Germany and there were summer jobs available on base) and I was asked to swear allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America.  I intend to follow that Constitution!  I would have voted NO, tried to urge my fellows to say NO and maybe walked out in protest, too.

UPDATE:  The resolution was modified in the Senate but the operative clauses, although less offensive, still has these clauses intervening in foreign affairs:

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the State of Israel be commended; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the cordial and mutually beneficial relationship between the Commonwealth of Virginia, the United States, and the State of Israel be commended; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the State of Israel has the right to live in peace and to defend itself, that Israel be recognized as neither an attacking force nor an occupier of the lands of others; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the State of Israel’s legal, historical, moral, and God-given right of self-governance and self-defense throughout the entirety of its land be supported; and, be it

RESOLVED FINALLY, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates transmit a copy of this resolution to Ralph Robbins, executive director of the Virginia-Israel Advisory Board, Robert G. Sugarman, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Michael D. Siegal, chairman of the Jewish Federation of North America Board of Trustees, requesting that they further disseminate copies of this resolution to their respective constituents so that they may be apprised of the sense of the General Assembly of Virginia in this matter.

I have emphasized the clauses I find offensive from a Constitutional standpoint.  It still takes sides in the dispute over lands and over if Israel is an occupier or started an attack.  It still encourages good relations between Israel, the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The WHEREAS clauses still refer to a Biblical basis for Israel to occupy the land:

WHEREAS, Israel has been granted its lands under and through the oldest recorded deed, the Old Testament, a tome of scripture held sacred and revered by Jews and Christians as presenting the acts and words of God; and

WHEREAS, as the grantor of those lands, God stated to the Jewish people in Leviticus 20:24, “Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey”; and

***

WHEREAS, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob promises in Genesis 12:3 “to bless those that bless Israel”; and

The resolution is still severely flawed and constitutionally unacceptable.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood “Sandy” Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia’s first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

2 Responses to “MORE ANALYSIS on WHETHER the ISRAEL RESOLUTION is FOREIGN POLICY”

  1. Paul Blumstein says:

    Your points are well taken. Sometimes emotion makes us temporarily forget principle.

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    Tom White Says:

    Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

    Check out NewsMax!

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