Rep. Max Rose: I’m hopeful for Israeli-Palestinian peace irrespective of the leadership

The Jewish veteran says Israel could serve as a model for national service in the United States

Congressman Max Rose (D-NY) returned from Israel this week with a renewed commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship and an unflagging belief in the possibility of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. 

“I will never lose hope on the potential for a peace resolution in the region, whether that is [with] Mahmoud Abbas or down the road, whoever replaces him,” Rose told Jewish Insider in a phone interview this week, just a day after he arrived back in the United States. 

Similarly, on the Israeli side, Rose said that “irrespective of who leads Israel, whether it is Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, whether it is Mr. [Benny] Gantz, or whether it is someone else down the road… I am especially hopeful after this trip that America’s firm alliance, strategic support for Israel as a Jewish, democratic nation will continue. This has got to be something that rises above politics. And that’s also the case for [whomever] is in political power in Washington DC.”

Rose was one of 41 Democrats — the majority of whom are, like him, freshman members of Congress — who took part in a weeklong visit to Israel led by the American Israel Education Foundation, an affiliate of AIPAC. The group met with Netanyahu, Gantz and Abbas, as well as Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs, business leaders and IDF troops. 

But unlike the majority of the freshmen on the trip, this was not Rose’s first visit to Israel. The Jewish war veteran said he had traveled to Israel 10 years ago, though his experience this month was wildly different. 

“The most memorable part was certainly the opportunity to see firsthand the incredible security conundrum that Israel finds itself in — and has found itself in since its inception,” Rose said. “To see that firsthand, to go to the border with Syria, to go to the border with Lebanon, to go near the border with Gaza, to travel through the West Bank, you can really see the incredibly tenuous situation that it’s in.” 

Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) meets with active IDF soldiers.

Rose, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, said he was particularly excited to meet with IDF soldiers during his time in Israel.

“Anytime that I get the opportunity to meet with and speak to soldiers… there’s such a shared bond and shared culture,” he said. Rose said he views the Israeli model as something that could “speak potentially to the need for a national service model in the United States. It brings people together from all different parts of the country, it establishes a common bond that rises above other divisions.”

Rose told JI that taking part in the AIPAC trip was a no-brainer for him, despite criticism that lawmakers should be remaining in their district or that the trip is a biased look at the region. 

“In my district, many people of Jewish faith know that I have personally been to Israel as a member and witnessed firsthand the tenuous security situation that they’re in — as well as the economic and diplomatic and historical miracle… that’s very important to many people in my district,” Rose said. “It’s important to Jews and to Christians… as well as people who are concerned with issues of national security, both global and domestic.”

Rose said the AIPAC-affiliated trip was “very valuable and informative” but it was not a “silver bullet. This trip is representative of just the beginning of our work.” 

Rose and his wife, Leigh, visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The New York Democrat also pushed back against the media firestorm surrounding Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who are expected to visit Israel on a separate trip later this month. 

“This is representative of a trend in media generally, because media enjoys this type of story,” he said. “The narrative that I was focused on throughout my time there, was the fact that this was the largest congressional delegation to Israel in history. That is monumental.”

Rose said he believes that “those who did not make this trip, they need to make some type of trip to Israel, and there are plenty of opportunities for them to do this.” The freshman Democrat said while “there are plenty of people who enjoy speaking about… drama, reality TV politics. I’m not one of them.” 

He also addressed the reports of increased violent antisemitic attacks on Jews in New York, including in his district. 

“We’re not seeing a revival of antisemitism,” he said. “We know antisemitism never went away, but it has certainly been increasing, and I do believe that — as it has been throughout history — it is often tied to culturally divisive rhetoric and economic anxiety.”

“We have got to invest in educating our youth about the history of antisemitism,” he continued. “We have to support our law enforcement as they show that there are consequences for engaging in acts like this. And we cannot be nuanced with our response either. This is wrong, and there’s no place for these types of actions in the United States of America.”

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