Jerusalem Summit
Arrow Jerusalem Summits Arrow Topics and Speeches Arrow Crisis in Morality and International Policy: How Israel can be a solution Arrow Eliot Engel
Crisis in Morality and International Policy: How Israel can be a solution
Dmitry Radyshevsky
Opening/Closing Remarks
Ehud Olmert
The Crisis in Morality and International Policy; How Israel May Be the Solution
Zalman Shoval
“JERUSALEM SUMMIT” – 12.10.2003
Clarence H. Wagner
Confronting Anti-Israelism
Malcolm Hedding
Anti-Semitism: the Basis of Immorality
Hillel Fradkin
May the Stone the Builders Rejected Become A Cornerstone? (Again)
Benyamin Netanyahu
The Failure of the U.N. in Dealing with the Global Moral Crisis
Uzi Landau
Keynote Address: “Finding the Right Road to Peace”
Eliot Engel
U.S. House of Representatives – Syria Accountability Act
Ron Breiman
Truth as the basis for peace
Michael D. Evans
It's About Islam, Stupid!
Avi Beker
How the UN breeds terrorism: the case of UNWRA
Paul Eidelberg
Ariel Center for Policy Research. A New Dark Age
 Topics and Speeches
Arrow

Arrow

Arrow

Arrow

Arrow

Arrow

Arrow

Arrow

Arrow

 

Congressman (D-NY) Eliot Engel

U.S. House of Representatives – Syria Accountability Act

Good morning everybody, thank you Morri. I hope you weren’t implying that present company needs some mental health benefits. Let me just say that I always like to listen when someone introduces me, and they are so nice about me and say so many good things about me. I always think that the two of the women in my life should be here to hear it, my wife and my daughter. I want you to know, Morri… I’m sorry, my wife, my daughter and my mother. My daughter and my mother would believe every kind word you said about me, and my wife would be scratching her head and wondering who you are talking about. But I think that’s the way of the world.

Well, you know, I got up this morning, I opened my door, they had an English newspaper, and there on the front page were the Palestinians in crisis again, Abu-Ala threatening to resign because Arafat won’t give him control over security. What a surprise. I was really, really shocked to hear such a thing.

I was going to talk generally about Israel, why I support Israel, why all Americans should support Israel and why all peace-loving people in the world should support Israel. But in view of the fact that the Syria Accountability Act, which I wrote, is finally being moved to the congress, I want to talk a lot about that act this morning.

Let me first say that when you look at the situation in the Middle East today, it is just absolutely unconscionable that 55 years after Israel was established, of all the nations founded in the 20th century Israel is the only one that still has to constantly fight to justify its existence. It’s absolutely a disgrace. And yet to this day when an Israeli gets up at an international conference, the United Nations, or any of its committees, delegates from the Arab countries walk out. If Israeli journalists ask a question of an Arab figure, they’re ignored and treated as a non-entity, as if they don’t exist. All of this is obviously part of a conscious effort to deny Israel its place among the community of nations.

This past year, the head of the UN had the gall to actually ask – this is Kofi Annan: “Is it possible for the entire world to be wrong and Israel to be right?” You know -- what a telling and silly question. Just as the minority in the world who once said the world is round, when all believed it was flat were right, just as those who said that the earth revolved around the sun and not the other way around were correct. So too, are we right to support Israel. How about the masses who joined the Third Reich and the Nazi regime when Jews were in the majority there? Maybe according to the Secretary’s perverted way of thinking they were right as well?

Ostracized by the international community, Israel is not allowed to sit on the Human Rights Commission. The body delights in passing resolutions affirming the legitimacy of armed struggle against Israel. And it’s currently chaired by Libya. Can you imagine? And Kofi Annan wonders if the world must be right, since they are all against Israel. Well, when you have the Human Rights Commission chaired by Libya, and you have a country like Syria sitting on the Security Council of the UN, is it any wonder that we scratch our heads and wonder if the world has gone mad?

We hear a lot about terror. And let’s talk about terror for a minute, because it leads up to the Syria Accountability Act. It’s not poverty that leads homicide bombers to act. That is a phony argument. It’s fanaticism. The bomber in August who took the lives of religious Jews returning from the Western Wall, and let me say I was in Israel at the time when that happened, going to the Western Wall – on Bus 22 there was a Muslim Imam with two children of his own. The woman who blew herself up in Haifa recently and murdered 21 innocent people was a law student. These are not impoverished people acting out of desperation. They are the product of the system which hates Jews -- let’s call it the way it is -- and admires and rewards violence and views as heroes those who take innocent lives, and it hates everything Israel represents.

Novelist Cynthia Ozick writing in the Wall Street Journal this summer commented about the depravity and sickness of a society which produces children who -- and I’m quoting her: “Who were taught to die and to kill from kindergarten on, the (inaudible) and slogan in praise of blood letting and of how despicable Hamas leader Abdel Rantisi is, a physician who is supposed to heal children but instead recruits them to suicide bombing missions”. An article in last week’s Wall Street Journal by the former head of the Romanian Intelligent Service detailed the role of the Soviet KGB in setting up Arafat and creating his persona. The forces at work against Israel are so much more sinister and complex than any of us can imagine.

Now we know that Israel is constantly being singled out among all the nations of the world, and I believe that is obviously a clear evidence of anti-Semitism. I speak out about Israel in order to condemn the hypocrisy of those morally bankrupt, non-democratic, corrupt, oppressive, repressive, despotic dictatorships who actually have the gull to criticize Israel. In fact, it’s more than just hypocrisy. We know what’s behind their actions, and we shouldn’t be afraid to call it what it is. Motivated by hatred and anti-Semitism, attempting to cloak themselves in the guise of respectability, as if they are only critics of certain policies or of a country, and not Jews. How many times have you heard someone say: “Well, I’m anti-Zionist but I’m not anti-Jewish?”? We all know that being anti-Zionist is being anti-Jewish. It’s bigotry, and we must not allow it to go unchallenged. How interesting that the world is indifferent to the slaughter of thousands of Kurds, the eradication of tens of thousands of Shi’ite Arabs in Iraq in the 90’s, the brutal occupation of Tibet by China, the killing of Chechens by Russians, the human rights abuses throughout Africa, Asia and the Arab world, the selling of blacks into slavery by Arabs in Sudan, but if one Israeli soldier al a checkpoint happens to question a seemingly pregnant Palestinian woman to be sure she’s not packing a bomb, it becomes an international incident befitting a Security Council motion and calls for international investigation. The world seems incapable of being able to distinguish between those who commit terror and the nation which has legitimate right to defend its citizens -- between the nation that’s giving back the land conquered in a war of self-defense, I might add, something no other country has ever done, and those who seek to destroy it. They fail to distinguish between the side which constantly takes risks for the possibility of peace and the aggressors who seek her destruction. The world makes no distinction between those who, at the risk of their own lives, attempt to limit the loss of innocent non combatants and those who wantonly and indiscriminately dispatch murderers seeking to kill and maim civilians and to inflict as much damage as possible.

Let’s talk about terrorism. That’s what we’re trying to get at with the Syria accountability act. President Bush put it very simply – you’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists. There are people who thought that was overly simple, I think was actually a great statement. Because you can’t have it both ways. Similar to the Jewish experience throughout the millennia, we know what happens to Israel will eventually happen to the rest of the world. When terrorism first reared its ugly head in the 1970’s the world was virtually silent, for after all the victims were Jews and Israelis. But now we see that, allowed to get away with impunity, they have accelerated their attacks. Now terrorism hits a night club in Bali, the most populist Islamic nation in the world, and even in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. The reality is, as my friend Daniel Pipes who’s here today has pointed out, the problem is not really with terrorism but rather Islamic fundamentalism. Terrorism is the weapon they use, but the ideology is behind it, whether in the Philippines, Malaysia, or the Middle East – it’s predicated upon radical teachings. In the New York Times Magazine’s article several months ago, Paul Bergman documented that in the 50’s and 60’s he wrote about his desire to turn Islam into a political movement that’s (inaudible) desire. Based on (inaudible) hearing from the Koran and the rejection and destruction of anything Western, or different to the hegemony and domination of the world, it’s clear that each of us has to choose, as President Bush said, which side we are on and where our sympathies in this conflict lie. It is beyond me how any decent moral person cannot sympathize with the plight of Israel in its efforts to live a normal life and to defend itself.

Front page of the paper again this morning: homicide bombers in Baghdad. What starts here will go around. What goes around comes around, and if people think that terrorism is going to only be confined to the Middle East or to Israel, they are sadly mistaken. As a New Yorker, I’ll never forget September 11th, and neither will anyone else. Now a couple of years ago, when Israel retaliated to defend itself, I took to the House floor and I said: “If the United States was right to go halfway around the world to destroy the Taliban in Afghanistan -- and we were -- then Israel surely has the right to get at terrorism and destroy terrorists in its own backyard”. The hypocrisy of people that say the United States has the right to act and other nations have the right to act, but somehow or other tiny Israel has to show restraint – if I heard one more word from the State Department talking about Israel using excessive force in putting down terrorism, that’s enough to make me scream. There is never excessive force in putting down terrorism. And as President Bush said, Morri quoted it: “Israel has the absolute right to go after terrorists wherever they rear their ugly heads”. And Israel, like any other country, like the United States, doesn’t have to wait till terrorists strike, Israel has the absolute right to go after terrorists anyplace, anytime, anywhere. Just like in Iraq for those of us who hear people cry that the United States should somehow cut and run, it would absolutely be the absolute worse thing that the United States could do. Regardless of how one feels or felt about the war in Iraq, cutting and running is not something you do, it would give the terrorists great pleasure to think that they drove the United States out of Iraq. That’s what terrorists are trying to do here. And the Syria bombing – Israel was absolutely right and justified to strike at terror camps. There can be no sanctuaries for terror camps, which leads me to Syria, and the Syria accountability act.

Several years ago the Congress passed a law, and my friend Debby is here and she remembers it well – called “ILSA”, which is the Iran Libya Sanctions Act. At that point I wanted to offer an amendment in Congress that would have included Syria in the Act. You know, it’s really galling to me that back in 1979 the US State Department for the first time put forth a list of countries which aid terrorism -- terrorist countries. In 1979 Syria was a charter member of that list. Syria has remained on that list unabated for 24 years. And yet, here in 2003 Syria is the only country still on that list with which we have normal diplomatic relations. Never made sense to me why the United States ought to have normal diplomatic relations with a terrorist country. And so I decided -- I thought it was time to get tough with Syria. If you look at the track record of Syria as with Iran in the fight against terrorism, I believe that Syria has an even worse record than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. And after September 11th for me as a New Yorker and as an American, the equation changed. We can’t sit back anymore. This is going to be a long fight. This is going to be a costly fight. And you begin the fight and you fight the fight going after nations which harbor terrorists. Now, it’s no secret that Syria has a stranglehold on Lebanon. It’s no secret that the people on Lebanon’s southern border, the terrorists, Hamas, are wrecking havoc and causing all kinds of destruction and could be stopped tomorrow if Syria wanted it. This is Hamas, the group which blew up over 200 US marines. This is the group that goes out not only to destroy Israel, but would destroy the United States as well. We put together the Syria Accountability Act. Wrote it in my office with my chief of staff and put it forward two years ago in the United States congress. We were told at that time that the administration would not support the bill because the United States had impending moves in Iraq and they didn’t want to do anything that might hurt the effort in Iraq. But his year I redoubled my effort and redoubled my effort because I thought there was no longer a reason for the Administration to oppose the bill.

Let me tell you what the bill does. Very simple, it’s very simple and very easy. It calls on Syria to do four things. Number one: first and foremost, stop its support for international terror. Number two – get out of Lebanon. Stop occupying Lebanon.
(Applause)
Number three; stop its programs of weapons of mass destruction. And number four, immediately stop aiding America’s enemies in Iraq. We know that people and armaments are going through Syria right now into Iraq. So it calls on Syria to do those four things. If Syria does those four things, there are no sanctions. But if Syria does not do those four things, then sanctions kick in and immediately all dual-use items such as computers are blocked from going to Syria. And the President of the United States has a pick of at least two of the following sanctions: freezing Syria’s assets, stopping trade with Syria, restricting Syrian diplomats, restricting Syrian air flights, and pointing out, even more importantly, that Syria is a terrorist nation and the United States will do everything in it’s power to end it. That’s the bill simple and clear and concise.
(Applause)
Now I am happy to tell you that the bill passed the International Relations Committee last Thursday by a vote of 33 to 2, so I think that is certainly a vote that shows strong bi-partisan support, and let me say the bill currently has 280 co-sponsors in the House, 76 co-sponsors in the US Senate, a majority of both the House and Senate and even greater, a majority of both parties in both the House and Senate -- a majority of Republicans in the House and Senate, a majority of Democrats in the House and Senate. And the good news I am here to report to you, and this is really the first time we’re saying this publicly, is that the bill is going to be on the House floor this coming Wednesday, is going to be voted on, and I believe we are going to have a strong victory for support of this bill Wednesday in the US House of Representatives.
(Applause)
And you heard it first here. And then we are going to go to the Senate and get it passed, and we’ve gotten assurances by the Administration that if the bill passes both Houses, the President will sign it into law. The Administration no longer opposes the bill, and Secretary John Bolton came to the International Relations Committee a few weeks ago and told us so. So I’m actually going to be leaving a day earlier than I thought I was because I want to make sure I’m on the House floor arguing for the bill as the sponsor of the bill, as the author of the bill. And I guess in conclusion what I want to say is – I really believe that we can make progress in the war on terrorism. We are making progress in the war on terrorism. Yes, it pains us greatly when we see horrific things, but I believe that the United States and Israel and other nations of the world, and sometimes it seems like there aren’t very many others – the other nations of the world, when they understand the fact that terrorism can rear its ugly head any place, and it’s not something that just happens over there, it is something that can happen everywhere, then, perhaps, the nations will join with Israel and the United States in fighting terrorism. It’s not just the fight for the survival of Israel. It’s not just the fight for the survival of the Jewish people – it’s not just the fight for the survival of the United States, it’s not just the fight for the survival of democracy, it’s the fight for decency, for moral clarity, and the fight, actually, for world civilization. So we go on Wednesday, we pass the bill, with your strong support and other support. I came here to the Jerusalem summit because I wanted to be a part of this. This is truly a wonderful undertaking; I commend you and everybody here who makes this possible. Everybody who was getting together and saying that we need to speak with moral clarity. There is no moral equivalence between homicide bombers and a nation which is trying to defend its very being. Thank you, and I look forward to participating with you for the rest of the day.

go back

http://www.isranet.org/    http://www.cherfund.org    http://www.pmw.org.il    http://www.professors.org.il   
 
Design: Gala-Studio   Layout, programing, hosting: Virtual Style Ltd
All rights reserved © Jerusalem Summit
 
VISITS
3347209
Page:133057