Stanley and Trudy Stern, Lee Zeldin, and Baruch and Esther Weinstein.
Lee Zeldin speaks for NORPAC

By Michele Justic

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R) (NY-1) served for four years in the U.S. Army, including being deployed with the elite 82nd Airborne Division to Iraq with an infantry battalion of fellow paratroopers in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. So, when he said often on Tuesday, August 16, at a Cedarhurst NORPAC event that “it’s been an interesting year,” it is a comment worth examining.

Congressman Zeldin spoke to a full and receptive crowd at the home of Esther and Baruch Weinstein, filling in members of the growing political-advocacy group on the issues of the day concerning the tumultuous Middle East and the topsy-turvy domestic scene. Congressman Zeldin serves on the Financial Services and Foreign Affairs committees and is co-chairman of the House Republican Israel Caucus.

He began by wryly commenting on the expectation to apply “equal pressure” regarding the Palestinian rioting reportedly in response to the installation of metal detectors at the Temple Mount. Unlike the media reports, Congressman Zeldin points out that “Israelis are protecting security. Palestinians are looking to harm security.”

Confirming a suspicion many hold, Zeldin noted that though everyone in this country is encouraged to speak out, there are those “who oppose the president and have pledged to completely oppose anything and everything the president does on any given day to the point where he literally can’t say or do anything right.” As a contrast, he exclaims, “I want our president to be successful!” This idea goes hand in hand with wanting the country to be successful.

Zeldin related how the violence in Charlottesville was painful to watch but that there is “responsibility in more than one place . . . There were those who were charged to protect the peace and stepped out of the way to allow people with baseball bats to converge in the middle.” The good news of the night came when he related how contrary to the fractured image, members of Congress often meet from across the aisle to go to dinner together and work together on particular issues. He reports that they can craft policies together if they get involved in the process early enough.

Personally, he sadly recounts how though he never faced anti-Semitism growing up, he faces it on a regular basis on social media now, predicting that while at the event, he would receive dozens of hateful messages on his Facebook page. He would like to see this country more united, commenting, “There is more we agree with than disagree with.”

Economically, things are improving with a growing GDP and shrinking unemployment rate. The basic philosophy of “growing the economy faster than growing government” is leading the way for tax reform and other domestic policies.

Though the tensions in North Korea have lightened slightly, he addressed the complicated mess of affairs in the Middle East. He did not support the Iran nuclear deal and strongly feels it should not be certified again. Though he admits the Obama administration left behind a successful plan for Iraq, things are far more complex with the “30 way civil war” in Syria and the growing potential for problems in Libya. He expressed the need to “build international support while isolating the challenge” regarding tensions in Lebanon though that strategy crosses over to other areas as well.

Legislatively, he is a strong supporter of the Taylor Force Act, which would end American aid to the Palestinian Authority unless the Authority ceases to pay stipends to the terrorists and their families, and anti-BDS legislation where he feels we should not invest in companies seeking to harm Israel economically.

Congressman Zeldin often supports President Trump even on controversial issues, though he confessed to disagreeing with him on a few matters such as not relocating the embassy in Israel.

He summed up his mission: “It is a privilege to go to Congress to fight for you.” He expressed gratitude to NORPAC and the event attendees for helping him to hopefully continue that mission through the 2018 election.

 

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