Speaking to a packed sanctuary at Livingston’s Temple B’nai Abraham, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) affirmed his strong support for Israel and criticized recent Iranian actions in the Middle East.
A veteran member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Menendez pointed out his continued strong support for the Jewish state and reminded the audience of his voting record showing increased aid to the country, while urging both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist.
But he also said he’s not afraid to break from President Barack Obama when he disagrees on policies he feels are harmful to Israel.
“The day of the Obama speech in Cairo (laying out a new U.S. policy in the Middle East), I took to the Senate floor and reminded my colleagues and the president the Holocaust was not the reason for Israel to exist,” he said. “History shows Israel has existed as a state for thousands of years.”
On the brewing crisis with Iran, Menendez said he is working to resolve the nuclear issue with Iran because there are both national security and national interest issues involved.
“I understand this is an existential threat to the state of Israel. This is the last thing we need in this part of the world.”
During a short question and answer period, Menendez was asked if he thought the United States would support Israel should the country attack Iran unilaterally.
As far as this country becoming involved in a conflict, Menendez said “Israel must decide for itself what is in its best interests.”
“At the end of the day,” he said, “we will get to where we need to be. Iran should not doubt the seriousness of our purpose and if they do doubt us, ask Bin Laden or Moammar Gadhafi."
He was also asked about the United States providing technology to the Israelis in the event of a conflict.
Menendez said he “would not want to give Israel such technology immediately,” but might do so later on in a conflict.