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Suozzi: More Bipartisan Support Needed For Israel

December 22, 2023

Publication: Long Island Press

By: Michael Malaszczyk

Credit: Michael Malaszczyk/Screenshot

Former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) has pledged to be a strong voice in support of Israel if he wins the Feb. 13 special election in New York’s third congressional district – something he says is needed in the Democratic Party.

Suozzi spoke to reporters via Zoom from Jerusalem, in a trip he had been planning to take for a while.

“I’ve always had a philosophy that you have to go and see what’s happening on the ground,” Suozzi said. “Whether it’s a local issue or whether it’s an international issue.”

Suozzi added he had spoken to the parents of Plainview native Omer Neutra, who currently serves in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and is being held hostage by the terrorist group Hamas.

“Hamas is not some random loose coalition of desert fighters,” Suozzi said. “This is a sophisticated, disciplined terror army that is set on destroying Israel and killing Jews. That’s their mission, and they’ve said they want to do due Oct. 7, again. That’s why it’s important that people are educated about what’s happening.”

The special election for this seat — which is currently vacant due to the expulsion of George Santos – is notable, as reported by the Jewish Insider, as both candidates have ties to Jewish communities in the district. The Republican candidate, Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip, is a veteran of the IDF, while Suozzi, during his 2017-2023 tenure in Congress, was known as “one of the most reliable non-Jewish Democratic votes” in favor of Israel.

With little separating Suozzi and Pilip on support of Israel, Suozzi says that his party affiliation is a reason to support him, as it would increase bipartisanship on the issue.

“Right now, Republicans have 95-99% support for Israel,” Suozzi said. “Democrats have more like 90 or 95% support for Israel — and the ones that don’t support it are very loud. Another Republican who supports Israel – we’re okay there. You need strong, outspoken Democrats if you want bipartisan support for Israel for years to come.”

Members of that percentage of Democrats who don’t support Israel much would include some of “the Squad,” including Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the latter of whom was recently censured by the House for criticizing Israel.

Pilip, during her campaign announcement, hit at Suozzi over the group, claiming herself as “the only member of this race who never wanted to be part of the Squad.”

“What this [claim] is based upon is that I was on Morning Joe one morning, and I was on hold,” Suozzi said. “And while I was on hold, the story was reported that President Trump – about the immigration issue – had said about the squad, ‘they should go back to where they came from, they should go back to their own country.’ My father is an Italian immigrant. I grew up hearing stories about people saying that to him. That’s un-American to say something like that. So I said ‘I’ll be an honorary member of the Squad today.’ But I don’t agree with the Squad on many issues, and certainly not on Israel.”

Suozzi also discussed his support for Muslim-Americans as founder of the Congressional Uyghur Caucus, and expressed support for a two-state solution in Israel, but said it cannot happen while Hamas is in power.

“My dream for this on this particular issue is that there’ll be a two state solution one day – the question is how to get there,” Suozzi said. “But right now, it’s not going to happen with Hamas. No way that they they have shown just how they refuse to play by any of what we would call the rules.”

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