New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez is visiting Israel and Jordan this week in his first official trip to the Middle East since becoming chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. During the trip, he openly expressed his opinions about the current state of affairs in the Middle East, declaring that the United States must take stronger action against both Iran and Syria. Menendez insisted that the U.S. must become more assertive in these areas to “stand up for America’s interests” as well as the interests of Israel.
Writing in Ha’aretz on Monday, Senator Menendez commented, “I arrive in a thriving Israel, but there is trouble in the neighborhood. From Egypt to Syria and beyond, the Arab revolutions have been a mixed bag for Israel.” He wrote further that, as opposed to remaining on the sidelines, the Obama administration “cannot allow the Iranians to continue to stall through talks while simultaneously bringing hundreds of new centrifuges online.”
Additionally, the senator called on the United States to actively intervene in Syria, despite the fact that Islamic terrorist groups are a significant element within the corps of rebels battling the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“The United States must play a role in tipping the scales toward moderate opposition groups and work to build a free and stable Syria,” Menendez wrote. “I know that there are real concerns about providing arms to the opposition, and I understand those concerns. But the choice is not between arming and not arming. The choice is between responsibly stepping in and leaving it to others who will simply arm the extremists.”
In advance of the trip, the senator met with 14 of New Jersey’s Jewish leaders.
“I am grateful to the members of the Jewish-American community who participated in the roundtable discussion,” said Menendez. “We covered many of the complex issues pertaining to Israel, its alliance with the United States, and its relations with other nations of the Middle East.
“The opportunity for direct, frank conversation with my friends in the Jewish-American community is an invaluable preparation for my upcoming trip to the Middle East. I have every intention of keeping the conversation going when I return.”
A bill Monday to give munitions to rebel fighters in Syria. So far, the United States has only provided non-lethal aid to the opposition fighters, in the form of medical supplies and food.