Congressman Jason Smith – Religious Liberty

Congressman Jason Smith

This past week, an Iranian led militia attacked, torched, and attempted to storm our Embassy in Baghdad. It came on the heels of Iran killing an American contractor based in Iraq one month prior. These are just two recent examples of Iran’s continued assault on American democracy, and our support for the rule of law, individual and religious freedoms, and the State of Israel.

In response, President Trump stood resolute. He ordered a strike in Iraq against those responsible for the death of the American contractor and the attack on our embassy in Baghdad, including Iran’s Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani was not only a known terrorist responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers, but he was also the Iranian Regime’s chief architect of past, present, and future terror plots against Americans and our allies. These plots included additional attacks on U.S. facilities, diplomats, and personnel. The President’s decisive leadership was a show of strength that saved American lives.

Let’s not forget how Iran became this emboldened in the region. When President Obama signed the disastrous Iran Nuclear Deal in 2015, he essentially greenlighted Iran’s war on American values by failing to reign in their destabilizing actions. Obama allowed Iran to fill their coffers with billions in U.S. cash to advance their ballistic missile program, expand their support for terrorism, and strengthen their reach across the region. Within two months of the deal, Iran’s Supreme Leader boldly declared that Israel would not exist in 25 years. Then to show he was committed to his goal, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) began major ground offensives with thousands of troops leading tens of thousands more of their militant extremists. In no time, these Iranian backed terrorists secured a base of operations to carry out terrorist attacks against Western Countries and our friends in Israel, while furthering their influence in places like Iraq.

Since the beginning, President Trump has done things differently and consistently fought back against Iran and other terrorist threats to the United States. During his first three years in office, he left the horrendous Iran Deal, designated the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization last April, and has used a maximum pressure campaign against the Iranian Regime that has crippled their economy. He has eliminated terrorist leaders like Qassem Soleimani and others, like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, and Hamza bin Laden, the son and potential successor of late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Sadly, the fight for the preservation of our American values, like individual freedom and religious liberty, has followed us home.

In 2019, the U.S. saw a sharp rise in anti-Semitic crimes; New York City alone experienced over 210 of them. There, in just the past month, a Jewish man in his 60s was hit in the face with a brick, then a mother and her child were pelted with eggs walking on the street in their Brooklyn neighborhood, and later two Jewish teenagers were assaulted in that same neighborhood. The anti-Semitic attacks reached a climax during the Hanukkah holiday when a man broke into a rabbi’s house and stabbed five Jews with a machete during their holiday festivities. These abhorrent and un-American attacks have no place in our country. America was founded by people seeking religious freedom and our Republic safeguards that right in our First Amendment.

Prior to the Hanukkah attack, President Trump had already signed an Executive Order to combat the rise of these anti-Semitic crimes. His recent actions, including his response to the attack on our Embassy in Baghdad and the death of the American contractor in Iraq, sends a clear message: the open season on our American values—including our support for the rule of law and religious freedom—is over. I’m grateful that President Trump showed the world that our resolve and commitment to liberty at home and abroad has never been stronger.