BOND FLOOR SPEECH ON ANTI-SEMITISM
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Mr. President, I rise today to address the age old plague of anti-Semitism. In July of this year Australia's largest synagogue in the west coast city of Perth was defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti that read "6 million more please with fries." Recently, in the U.S. and at least 14 other countries anti-Semitic incidents have been recorded and the trend is not promising. Mass expulsions, forced conversions, bans on land ownership, job and housing discrimination --- all mark a people that has been singled out not because of what they have done but because of who they are - Jews.
Many of us who came of age in the post-WWII era harbored the illusion that the last remnants of anti-Semitism perished in Hitler's gas chambers. Many believed that what American G.I's discovered in the Nazi concentration camps was so horrendous and shocking that it finally put an end to what the historian Robert Wistrich had dubbed "the longest hatred"-anti-Semitism.
Unfortunately, we are witnessing a rapid re-emergence of anti-Semitism. From the Middle East where sermons from mosques single out Jews for death; to Paris, where Jewish schools are firebombed and Jewish children are routinely attacked, to the conference against racism in Durban, South Africa, which quickly became a carnival attacking Israel; to the inordinate number of anti-Israeli resolutions in the U.N. General Assembly, to U.S. college campuses, where anti-Israel rallies become forums with chants that disintegrate into cries of "Death to the Jews", anti-Semitic acts have become commonplace and even fashionable once again. As Natan Sharansky wrote in Commentary Magazine, (NOV 2003), "Israel has become the world's Jew and anti-Zionism is simply a substitute for anti-Semitism."
In Washington, the recent attacks on Doug Feith and other neo-conservatives such as Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle charging Jewish DoD officials with manipulating U.S. intelligence in order to "force" the United States to take out Saddam in Iraq contain familiar anti-Semitic overtones. The fact is the Senate Intelligence Committee, after an exhaustive review of pre-war U.S. intelligence, found absolutely no evidence of pressure being put on intelligence analysts to change their assessments by any administration official.
The Jewish state has tried in earnest to sacrifice "land for peace". We witnessed Prime Minister Barak's offer to Chairman Arafat: shared sovereignty over Jerusalem, Muslim control of the Temple Mount, 97% of the West Bank and Gaza, and a land swap in the Negev for a corridor around Jerusalem that couldn't be given away, a "right of return" for thousands of Palestinian refugees, and a compensatory package for those that couldn't be re-absorbed. The offer was so generous that many were privately apprehensive about what would become of Israel if Arafat were to have accepted it. Yet, Arafat walked away from the negotiating table and responded with violence which has remained unmitigated ever since. Over one thousand innocent Israelis have lost their lives for simply riding on buses, or going out to eat pizza with their families.
Under Article 51 of the U.N. charter, a nation's primary responsibility is to protect the lives of its citizens. When Israel tried to do that, by building a defensive barrier to keep out terrorists, which has resulted in a 90% decrease in terrorist attacks, the U.N. General Assembly voted to refer it to the International Court of Justice, in the Hague. The ICJ declared Israel's security fence "immoral" and demanded that it be removed. The security fence will disrupt the Palestinian's travel but inconvenience is not final, death from terrorism is.
The ICJ decided that only Israel should be singled out for moral opprobrium - for building a security fence to defend the lives of its civilian population. This is occurring while Muslims with less dark pigment in their skin are systematically murdering Muslims with more dark pigment in their skin, in the Darfur region of the Sudan, to the tune of 1,000 a week. When a Jew or Israel is judged by a different, more stringent standard than that used to judge any other person or nation, there is just one term for it: anti-Semitism.
The scourge of anti-Semitism is prolonged when the institutions we depend upon for community and regional stability are infected by it. Take for example the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency was established in 1949 to provide humanitarian services to Arabs who left their homes during the war against Israel's independence. UNRWA is the only UN agency assigned to serve only one class of people, and the only refugee agency whose mandate does not include the resettlement of its wards. Fifty-four years after its founding, UNRWA is providing assistance to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who left. Soon it will be providing services to the grandchildren of the grandchildren. All other refugees are the responsibility of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who serves 21.8 million persons in 120 countries with the aim of resettling them.
This situation, unintended at first, is perpetuated now by a combination of naVveté, inertia and ill-design. It is responsible in large measure for the intractable nature of Palestinian and Arab claims against the State of Israel, and makes the Palestinians tools in the continuing Arab struggle to delegitimize and ultimately eliminate Israel. The difficulties created for the Palestinian people by this are legion.
With the exception of Jordan, Arab states in which they live have refused to grant citizenship to them or to their descendants born after 1948.
In some countries, Lebanon in particular, laws strictly limit the professions these persons may enter, the schools they may attend, or the places they may live.
UNRWA schools, according to the State Department, provide children with textbooks that "contain anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish content." This is a mild statement. In fact, many of the texts contain exceptionally lurid and hateful propaganda.
UNRWA administered camps are filled with weapons, as has been acknowledged by UNRWA personnel in statements to the media. The Government of Israel has charged that UNRWA warehouses have been and are being used to store weapons and bomb making material.
Each year UNRWA financed projects like the Union of Youth Activities Centers sponsor gigantic "right of return" " rallies throughout the West Bank and Gaza, encouraging people to believe the existence of Israel is temporary and will be reversed by the UN.
UNRWA is financed by voluntary contributions and, according to UN records, the United States has consistently contributed about 25% of UNRWA costs. In 2002, that amounted to $110 million. UNRWA is funded annually, providing an opportunity for countries to examine the mandate, propose changes, and decide whether or not it will renew funding. It is time to initiate a thorough investigation into the finances of this agency. We must work to eliminate institutional hatred as exemplified by the anti-Semitic culture resident within UNRWA.
Some will say that America would not be targeted by terrorism if it did not support Israel to the degree that it does. If we stand by and witness this hatred without intervening or supporting our democratic ally than we would become as venal as the rest of the world. Appeasement of hatred and murder would only come back to haunt us just as appeasement to terrorism in the 80's and 90's did on 9-11. Giving into the prevailing, fashionable wind of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism would directly contradict the ideals that this country has been founded upon.