Iron Dome’s Supporters Deserve Our Thanks

A picture shows an Iron Dome defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on January 20, 2015, two days after an Israeli air strike killed six Hezbollah members in the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights. The strike on Syria killed an Iranian general, Tehran confirmed on January 19, as thousands of supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah gathered to bury one of the six fighters killed in the same raid. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

A picture shows an Iron Dome defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on January 20, 2015, two days after an Israeli air strike killed six Hezbollah members in the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights. (Photo: JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Congress understands that stopping anti-Israel rocket attacks saves lives on both sides of the conflict.

Imagine going to bed worried that an alert will go off in the middle of the night and you’ll have to gather up your family and scramble to a shelter.

Imagine sending your kids off to school worrying about their safety from airborne threats on the way, and when they get there. Imagine living through air raid alerts on a regular basis, huddled in your sealed room, wondering if, should destruction rain down from the skies, your shelter will be strong enough to protect you from harm.

Imagine shopping for a home or apartment and, in addition to price and location, needing to ask about a panic room.

Millions of Israelis don’t have to imagine this scenario. Whether Jewish, Arab or Christian – rockets can’t discriminate- this is their reality day to day: In the south, rocket attacks from Hamas in Gaza; In the North, from Hezbollah in Lebanon. In the center of Israel, a country no bigger than New Jersey, safety is relative as rockets with increasing sophistication and power project terror at longer and longer ranges.

So far in 2015, there have been 23 rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza, most recently on Oct. 21, when a projectile landed in Sh’ar Hanegev. Last year, which included the summer conflict that started Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, the number was 4,005, resulting in 8 deaths, 60 injuries and 1,663 Palestinians killed in counterstrikes.

The ability to track rockets as they launch, calculate their trajectory and eliminate the most dangerous projectiles saves lives, likely many thousands of them.

Striking back at the launch sites doesn’t solve the problem. Had Gazans applied the same devotion to productive endeavors like agriculture and tourism as they do toward bloodthirsty rocketry, the area would be thriving today, rather than the blockaded ruin.

The situation would be far worse for both sides if not for the technology of Iron Dome, shared by Israelis and the United States. The ability to track rockets as they launch, calculate their trajectory and eliminate the most dangerous projectiles saves lives, likely many thousands of them. When rockets do not reach their intended targets, Israelis are the obvious beneficiaries, but innocent Palestinians are spared the threat of collateral damage from a counterstrike that would be tactically necessary after any lethal attack.

Members of the United States Congress understand this and since 2009 have consistently voted to increase funding for this technology. It should be a political no-brainer. No matter where you stand on Israel’s politics and policies, decent people and particularly leaders should agree that everyone has a right not to blown up by a rocket.

Moreover, it serves the higher purpose of the Israeli Palestinian peace process (such as it is) to decrease the incentive and effectiveness of this senseless violence. Whether Hamas and Hezbollah will one day realize the futility of this strategy is anyone’s guess, but it’s our sacred obligation to send that message.

That is why I am proud to be a part of the Congressional Tribute honoring standout members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who have supported Iron Dome – with up to $371.2 million in this year’s Defense Authorization bill.  The honorees are Ed Royce (R-CA) , Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa; Doug Lamborn  (R-CO), Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces; Nita Lowey (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee; Ted Deutch (D-FL), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa; Hal Rogers (R-KY), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee; Peter Roskam (R-IL), Co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus; Eliot Engel (D-NY) Ranking Member of Foreign Affairs Committee; Mike Rogers (R-AL), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.

Investment in Iron Dome has never been more important, given our lack of leadership in the Middle East that has created a dangerous void easily filled by Isis on one side and the Russians on the other. With billions of post-sanction dollars flowing into Iran courtesy of the nuclear deal, Iran may well increase their own investment in Hezbollah in the form of upgraded weapons.

Those same weapons could easily make their way south to Gaza. With anti-Jewish bloodlust on the rise in Israel, missiles may, God forbid, soon become the new knives. And how long before they get their hands on biological or radioactive payloads?

All the more reason to keep close tabs on your representatives and senators. Thank them if they have already boosted Iron Dome. If not, ask them to close their eyes and picture themselves dashing to one of those sealed rooms in the middle of the night as a piercing siren sounds.

Eli Verschleiser is a financier, real estate developer, and investor in commercial real estate. In his Philanthropy, Mr. Verschleiser is a board member of the American Jewish Congress, Co-Founder of Magenu.org, & President for OurPlace, a non-profit organization that provides support, shelter, and counseling for troubled Jewish youth. You can follow him on Twitter: @E_Verschleiser

Iron Dome’s Supporters Deserve Our Thanks