I am a staunch supporter of the State of Israel and her citizens’ right to live in peace and security. Since Israel’s independence in 1948, the United States and Israel have shared a special relationship based on our shared values of personal freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. Israel has blossomed from desert sands into a shining example of economic progress and cultural diversity – all while under the threat of attack from hostile neighbors.

As Florida’s first Jewish Congresswoman, I take seriously the threat of anti-Semitism at home and abroad. Near the beginning of my time in Congress, I teamed up with former Republican Senator Arlen Specter to write a resolution – passed unanimously by both houses of Congress and signed by President Bush – to declare May as Jewish American Heritage Month, both in an effort to reduce bigotry and hate, and to recognize the incredible Jewish contributions to our nation.

These are challenging times for Israel, and the United States must support the safety and security of that nation as she strives to protect her citizens. While Israel faces intense international criticism for exercising its legitimate right to self-defense, its enemies, which include Hamas or Hezbollah rockets, global anti-Semitism, and biased United Nations resolutions, continue to threaten its safe and secure existence.

Ultimately, we will not achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians until their leaders sit down together to agree on the road ahead. I believe that the only solution that will create a lasting peace and enable Israel to thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is a two-state solution. Any negotiation toward such a solution will require many difficult issues to be broached, and I am under no illusions as to the challenges that must be overcome.

We have a special relationship with the State of Israel. I was honored to lead a group of eight of my Congressional colleagues on a delegation trip to the Middle East. I led this delegation trip so that other Members of Congress who had not yet been to Israel could understand the importance of the Jewish State, as well as the threats it faces. I am confident that in the future our steadfast support will strengthen Israel and advance the prospects for peace in the Middle East.