ISRAEL


Mark Edward SouderU.S. Representative
[R] Indiana, United States

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Mr. SOUDER. Mr. Speaker, actually my main subject I want to cover tonight is Israel, but I didn't want today to pass again without making comments about the health care bill, because clearly that is the number one subject on the minds of the people in Indiana as well as the rest of the country.

One of the things that has happened here, without getting into what I believe are the demerits of the bill, the 17 percent of the American economy, and many companies in my district are threatened and their choices threatened, but I think one of the frustrations here is the arrogance of the process.

Initially, we were promised that it was going to be live on C-SPAN and we would see all the negotiations. We are all familiar with how that was abandoned. Then many Members refused to do town halls. They wouldn't answer phone calls. They still won't answer their phone calls or mail. Then we saw deals made in the Senate bill unprecedented in American history.

As I pointed out earlier today, Thomas Jefferson got all of 13 States as part of the first Louisiana Purchase in inflation-adjusted dollars of $150 million. Buying one vote from Louisiana in the other body cost $300 million.

Then when 17 percent of the American economy is at stake, not some annual budget process but 17 percent of the American economy, the Founding Fathers had set up a process in the Senate that is being abused to go down to where it is 50 plus the Vice President can pass the bill. Now we are going to apparently pass this in the House, if they have the votes, and it is going to be deemed passed. We are not even going to vote. No wonder so many American people are losing confidence in government. It wasn't that we were high before, but we have hit new lows. And it is going to be difficult to establish confidence with the American people if we continue at this pace.

But another part of the arrogance of this government is happening in Israel. I would like to insert this article from the Jerusalem Post into the Record. It is an article that makes some nuanced points.

But first let me start and say Israel has an historic importance to the world and to ourselves not just because of its history before the Diaspora and the tremendous history of the Jewish people and the Nation of Israel, but also it was a returning homeland for those after the Holocaust from around the world where they could gather again to the land from which they had been evicted.

Then it is important because it is a democratic bastion in the Middle East, where there are not democratic bastions. We are trying to see if Iraq can form a democracy, and Turkey is kind of a democracy as well. But Israel has been from its founding such a democracy, since its refounding in 1948. Not only that, but they are our best and really only consistent ally in the Middle East. But it is also because Israel is going to be of importance in future world history as well in many ways. In fact, not only should all Americans be concerned about what is happening in Israel, but many people have special concerns about the future of Israel and how the United States responds to Israel.

Therefore, it is extremely disturbing to watch the arrogance of this administration to bully our best ally. This article in the Jerusalem Post says this is the worst that the United States has treated Israel since 1975. The American leadership is mistakenly painting Israel into a corner is the thrust of this article. In one of the more sophisticated statements in it by Mr. Avner, who has written on the '75 crisis, he said, ``If the United States wishes to advance a peace process, it must never paint Israel into a corner.'' And he points out that what is needed is constructive ambiguity.

Now, that is an interesting term because most of us like to be very forthright. And I would say that most people in Israel would like to be forthright most of the time. But when dealing with historic conflicts that have gone back to how the divisions first occurred in what I believe when God gave Israel its land, and divisions that have occurred since then, straightforwardness does not bring peace. Constructive ambiguity brings peace.

So when the United States takes sides in calling Ramat Shlomo a settlement, they chose words that were from the other side. That sends a message that becomes then very difficult for Israel. The question is, have we switched our positions or are we not as fully behind Israel? Now, anybody who has ever visited there, reads about it, follows Israel, realizes that its enemies on all sides at least claim they want to destroy it. And from time to time they have had wars with which to attempt to destroy it. You don't have to be kind of really informed on international issues to realize that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear bomb. Why are they trying to develop a nuclear bomb? They want to destroy Israel from the face of the earth. It is their stated goal.

Now, the people in Israel may be divided on a lot of things and they have a lot of opinions in their country, but they are a tad worried about Iran. And they believe that the United States and the rest of the world don't seem to be taking it as seriously as they do. Maybe because, for example, you can get a bomber over Jerusalem from Amman, Jordan, in a minute and a half. So they tend to be a little uncertain when there is some doubt. And so they have a deep concern. In this case they have a concern that we are all going to talk, talk, talk while they are going to be in danger because of a nuclear weapon. If we are going to address this, we need to stop giving the signals that we do not stand behind Israel, and we need to stand directly behind Israel and let the world know that is what our U.S. position is and do a little bit of constructive ambiguity.

Obama Repeating 1975 Mistakes (By Gil Hoffman) EX-RABIN ADVISER SAYS US GOVERNMENT'S STANCE RECALLS US-ISRAEL SINAI CRISIS. The American leadership is mistakenly ``painting Israel into a corner,'' as it did during a 1975 confrontation between the two countries, Yehuda Avner, who was an adviser to then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin at the time of the crisis, said Monday.

Ambassador to the US Michael Oren was quoted as telling Israeli consuls general on a conference call Saturday night that the current crisis with the US was the worst since the 1975 confrontation between then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Rabin over an American demand for a partial withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula.

Avner said he did not have enough inside information about the current crisis to compare the two. But he compared the language of Kissinger 35 years ago to that of current US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who he said spoke in a manner that was more emotional than diplomatic.

``The US must never create a situation in which Israel sees itself as being abandoned, because it encourages belligerence on the other side and inflexibility on the Israeli side,'' Avner said. ``If the US wishes to advance a peace process, it must never paint Israel into a corner as it did by calling Ramat Shlomo a settlement. What's needed now on all sides is constructive ambiguity.'' Avner, who worked under four Israeli prime ministers, recalled the details of the 1975 crisis, which he recounts in his new book The Prime Ministers.

He said the March 1975 incident erupted when Kissinger demanded that Israel give up the Jidda and Mitla passes in the Sinai, and Rabin refused. Because of his refusal, Kissinger left a meeting with Rabin in anger and accused Israel of ``shattering the cause of peace.'' At the height of the confrontation between the two men, Kissinger told Rabin: ``You will be responsible for the destruction of the third Jewish commonwealth,'' and Rabin replied, ``You will be judged not by American history but by Jewish history.'' Avner said he hoped the current crisis would be resolved as successfully.

Then American president Gerald Ford wrote Rabin a fiercely worded letter that [Page: H1492] Avner said was among ``the most brutal'' Israel had received from the US.

``I wish to express my profound disappointment of Israel's attitude over the course of the negotiations,'' Ford wrote. ``You know the importance I have attached to the US efforts to reach an agreement. Kissinger's mission, encouraged by your government, expresses vital US interests in the region. Failure of the negotiations will have a far-reaching impact on the region and our relation. I have therefore instructed that a reassessment be made of US policy in the region, including our relations with Israel with the aim of reassuring that our overall American interests are protected.'' Within six months, Kissinger succeeded in brokering an interim accord between Rabin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat whereby Israel agreed to pull back its forces out of the Jidda and Mitla passes but retained the heights above them while American forces were stationed in the passes.

Avner said that since that compromise was reached, no Israeli has been killed on the Israel-Egypt border. END

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