“I am a born-again Christian,” Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) said on the “Yishai Fleisher Show,” and as such, “every time I come to Israel … it is always an eye-opening and heartwarming experience to see the interrelationship between our two shared faiths.”
Garrett, who visited Israel with a bipartisan Congressional delegation last month, represents New Jersey’s 5th congressional district in the House since 2003. His district includes the northern-most and western-most portions of the state. Garret began his political career serving in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1992 to 2003. In 2007, Garrett led nineteen US lawmakers in introducing a bill in the House supporting a UN membership for Taiwan, which the US helped revoke under President Nixon. Garrett is a staunch supporter of US military aid to Israel and of the US friendship with the Jewish State.
The group with which the Congressman traveled included Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Rep. Raoul Labrador (R-ID), and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC). The trip was sponsored by the US based Christian organization Proclaiming Justice to the Nations and hosted by “Yes! Israel.” Garrett was accompanied by his wife, Mary.
“Ever since I’ve been in Congress I’ve supported the Israeli position on where their capital should be. I believe any sovereign nation has the right to make that determination,” Rep. Garrett told Yishai Fleisher. The Christian lawmaker introduced the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2013, requiring moving the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Israel’s legal capital, Jerusalem.
“I’ve been under two presidents – President Bush and President Obama – and both have taken the wrong view [on Jerusalem],” said Garrett. “And the other problem is the US State Department, [has] always been the fly in the ointment, trying to prevent Congress from moving forward on that legislation. It’s a battle in the United States, and there are some of us who would take right side.”
The congressional fact-finding mission included briefings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, a strategic helicopter tour with the Israeli Air Force, a visit to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, meetings with Israelis and Palestinians in Gush Etzion to discuss coexistence, a visit to the Gaza border city of Sderot, as well as tours of ancient Shiloh and Ariel University, and briefings with a range of lawmakers at the Israeli Knesset.
The congressmen also met with American expatriates and held a Town Hall meeting in Jerusalem that attracted around 200 Israeli-Americans.
“As a member of Congress, I certainly look at my trip from a geopolitical perspective, to see Israel as our one true friend in the region and how [our friendship] benefits the United States,” Garrett told Fleisher.
“On the other hand, I am a born-again Christian and I see the faith-based aspect to it as well,” he continued. “My wife and I very much appreciate that aspect of the relationship. Every time I come to Israel—I’ve been here several times now—it is always an eye-opening and heartwarming experience to see the interrelationship between our two shared faiths.”
Fleisher asked Garrett how it felt to be in Jerusalem – “a flowering yet embattled capital” — at a time of increased terror attacks.
“It seems that my history of coming here has been during traumatic, tragic times—during the bus bombing period, during the period when cafés were being bombed—and I’m here now when the knifing incidents,” he replied. “So I guess I have a track record. Unfortunately for the people that live here, you live under constant attack, surrounded by neighbors who do not appreciate that you just want to live in peace.”
Congressman Garrett served on the Iran Sanctions Committee in 2010. “We tried to have the toughest sanctions we could have on Iran,” he told Fleisher. “We tried to force Iran’s hand on the nuclear situation and we got pushback from the administration and State Department, who said, ‘No, no, we don’t want those tough sanctions in place, just give us more flexibility’ – a famous word for this president – ‘so we will be able to work with them.’ Of course we see now that as a result of giving the administration as much flexibility as we did, unfortunately, we ended up with the terrible nuclear deal that we’ve suffered under and will suffer under for the next decade.”
The Congressman agreed with Fleisher’s assessment that the Iran deal was “not really about the bomb but [about] the return of billions of dollars into the coffers of Iranian terrorists’ efforts.”
Garrett was one of only 25 members of the House of Representatives who voted against the so-called Corker legislation – the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which effectively allowed the State Dept. and the White House to hammer out the nuclear deal with Iran without interference from Congress.
“The Corker legislation prevented us from doing what the US Constitution actually required us to do, which was to approve an Iran deal or treaty, and at the end of the day we were not able to do that because we needed 218 votes in the House and 60 votes in the Senate to disapprove [the Corker bill]. By [passing the bill], we facilitated this administration to go forward with a bad deal on the nuclear portion and also to facilitate the undoing of what we were trying to do in 2010 as far as additional sanctions on the financial portion [went] as well.”
Fleisher pointed out that Iran subsequently signed a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin “powered by the money flowing into Iran, and this new axis includes Russia, Iran, Shi’ite Iraq, Shi’ite Syria, and Shi’ite Hezbollah in a united front.”
“They’ve been empowered for a long time by our administration,” Garrett replied, “but now it’s on steroids, if you will. To address this, we passed legislation in the House with regard to the releasing of the $110 billion to slow it down or put an end to it. In the United States there are number of legal claims from the past half-dozen years by Americans who have been injured by [the Iranian] regime, so the legislation would prevent any of that money from being released until all of the Americans claims against the regime have been compensated first, which I think is the absolute appropriate thing to do.”
Fleisher thanked Garrett for his support, adding, “I hope I will be able to shake your hand when the United States of America recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel and moves the embassy back to Jerusalem. That will be a great day.”
Garrett agreed. “I look forward to shaking your hand once again rather soon, and I hope it will be on that day.”