Nearly three months into his term representing the South Shore of Nassau County, Rep. Anthony D’Esposito’s social media is mostly focused on combating crime, stopping illegal immigration, and honoring police officers. Last week, while he toured the border with Mexico, Ukrainians marked the anniversary of their country’s invasion by Russia, and in Israel violence escalated with the murder of brothers Hallel and Yagel Yaniv outside the Arab village of Huwara, which resulted in a vigilante arson spree committed by Jewish youths on the following day.
Since his election last November, he tweeted only twice about Israel, noting an AIPAC meeting in the Five Towns shortly after the election, and the terrorist attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem in January. Prior to becoming the Congressman for the district covering the Five Towns, Long Beach, and West Hempstead, D’Esposito served as a Hempstead Town Councilman. In that role, he supported the town’s anti-BDS law, its partnership with Israel, and providing resources to law enforcement agencies to identify and combat anti-Semitism.
With a diverse constituency and the priority given to local and federal matters, D’Esposito cannot be expected to tweet an opinion on every single incident that occurs in Israel, but as there are prominent Republicans in the House who seek to distance the United States from foreign affairs, D’Esposito’s voice matters in demonstrating that the majority of Republicans remain committed to supporting Israel.
Likewise concerning Ukraine. In the week when President Joe Biden visited the war-torn country on a secret trip that involved a flight to Poland on an unmarked flight, followed by a ten-hour ride aboard a train, some Republicans tweeted that he should have been visiting East Palestine, Ohio, and funding border security rather than the Ukrainian war effort.
“There’s not bipartisan support among the American people for fighting a war in Ukraine that does nothing for Americans except force them to pay for it,” Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene told Fox News host Tucker Carlson. “The problem is that the warmongers and our supreme leaders in the Biden administration are so clueless, they are so stupid, they are so disconnected with what the American people want, that they are literally going to lead us into World War III.”
In her interview with Carlson, Greene announced a bill to audit military aid for Ukraine. “It’s going to force Congress to give the American people an audit and that is exactly what the American people need.” She later tweeted that the president had no constitutional authority to fund, arm, and train the Ukrainian military. Earlier last month, Taylor Greene and ten of her party colleagues sponsored a resolution to halt all aid to Ukraine. Because House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s position was secured by a narrow majority with compromises made to far-right firebrands such as Paul Gosar of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, and Taylor Greene, they have an outsize influence within the party in comparison to its mainstream, which remains solidly supportive of our country’s foreign policy concerning Israel.
A couple of weeks ago, my Republican colleague Moshe Hill gave credit where it is due, noting how Rep. Ritchie Torres eloquently defended Israel against leftist hecklers. Aside from his support of Israel, Torres is a solidly liberal Democrat, but he is not shy to confront the “Squad” on this matter. As D’Esposito represents a district with a sizable population of Orthodox Jews with family members living and learning in Israel, he should take the lead in doing the same, speaking out against the America First members of his party.
The same goes for Ukraine. As Councilman, he welcomed local Ukrainian Americans to the steps of Hempstead Town Hall last August, in celebration of Ukraine’s independence anniversary as the blue and yellow flag flew above the seat of the country’s largest suburban town. But since his election to Congress, he has not spoken, written, or tweeted about the biggest crisis in Europe since World War II. He ran on a platform of combating crime, relying on his experience as a city police officer in addressing concerns about gangs and bail reform. For the most part, these matters depend on town, county, and state policies.
Now that he is in Washington, I expect my Congressman to be more outspoken on global issues such as Israel and Ukraine. When time allows, he should visit both of these countries and learn firsthand how our foreign aid is being spent – not to let the isolationists within his party dominate the discussion.
His party colleagues on Long Island, Rep. Nick LaLota and Rep. Andrew Garbarino, also haven’t spoken or tweeted about Ukraine in the past year. No comment needed on Rep. George Santos, who is cozying up to the party’s far-right in order to keep his ill-gotten seat.
When D’Esposito was in his second week in office, I wrote him a letter on foreign policy. As I have family members in Israel, living within range of rockets launched from Gaza, I am concerned about their security. I also have relatives in Latvia, a member nation of the European Union and NATO, who are fearful of Russia’s imperial ambitions. In Belarus, I have a relative who cannot speak publicly about the dictatorship of Alexander Lukashenko. Fortunately, Belarusians still have access to the Internet and the ability to discern a free voice from propaganda. But they cannot act on it, as Russian troops occupy their country and bankroll the Lukashenko regime. They live in a country where the security force still carries the KGB initials, and cities have streets honoring Lenin and Marx.
Three months into his job, D’Esposito is more knowledgeable about domestic and foreign policies. In a fragmented party, he represents a diverse district with constituents who can provide firsthand testimony on the situations in Israel and Ukraine. As their elected voice in Washington, he should amplify their aspirations and concerns, using his platform to defend democracy abroad.
By Sergey Kadinsky