THE RAVAGES OF TERRORISM -- (House of Representatives - March 18, 2004)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, it is once again the sad duty of a Member of the House, myself in this case, to talk about the ravages of terrorism and the damage it does. I was struck last week, as we all were, by the terrible depth of the tragedy in Spain when hundreds were killed by brutal thugs. But I must say I was also struck at the relative lack of attention to the deaths of 10 people in Israel who were also killed by terrorists.
Taking into account the very small size of Israel's population, the loss of 10 in that country is equivalent to hundreds in many other places, thousands in some others. The sad fact is that Israel has so frequently been the victim of brutal murderist terrorism, aimed wholly at people who are by no stretch of the imagination combatants, that the world has become a little numb to it. And that is a very sad fact.
Obviously victims of terrorism are, in the first instance, those who are killed, those who are maimed, those who love and care for them. And that is where our focus should be. But there is a second victim of terrorism and it makes this a self-perpetuating problem, and that is any serious effort to negotiate peace.
I have been one of those in this House who strongly supported the efforts of former President Clinton and former Israel President Barak to reach peace. It was a terrible, terrible moment in Israel's history when Yitzhak Rabin, a great fighter for peace in the most literal sense of the word, was murdered, in this case by right-wing terrorists within Israel.
And I continue to believe that Israel should be seeking peace based on the two-state solution because, among other reasons, it is very much in Israel's interest. But those of us who hold that position must acknowledge that the continued pattern of terrorism, which the Palestinian authorities do little or nothing to oppose, makes the accomplishment of that
goal extremely difficult.
I have been critical of some aspects of what the Israeli Government does. People say you cannot criticize another government. That, of course, is not true. People in this body spend most of our time criticizing other governments. It is perfectly legitimate to express points of view. Indeed, the more closely one feels allied to a nation, it seems to me the
more your obligation is to speak out, if there are some differences, in a constructive and helpful way.
But those who are urging Israel to do more have to take due account of the steady, relentless pattern of terrorism of which it is the victim. Look what happened in Spain. Two hundred people were brutally murdered and a government fell, because they think it was an inappropriate reaction in terms of trying to blame people. But would anyone now be pressing the Spanish Government to enter into negotiations with al Qaeda which appears to be the author of this?
When the U.S. was the victim of thousands of murders and, given the population, Israel has seen a comparable number, if not more, murdered by terrorists, none of us here felt that the answer was to go further with negotiations.
I am not opposed to peace negotiations. I think it is very much in Israel's interest. I think the ability to get out of the settlements so that Israel can be a Jewish democratic state, setting an example for the world of how to achieve democratic values in the Middle East, that is very important. So I don't think the peace process ought to be abandoned.
But I do believe it is important to take due note of what we are asking a democratic Nation to do: negotiate peace under difficult circumstances with an entity from which murderist terrorists come, and an entity which does too little to deal with it.
There have been some in the Palestinian Authority who want to show that they will make peace. But the role of Yassar Arafat has been so negative, so absent when it comes to any serious effort to preventing the terrorism, that it poisons the atmosphere.
So, Mr. Speaker, as we mourn the victims of terrorism in Spain, we
mourn the victims of terrorism everywhere. We should note that the victims of terrorism in the Middle East are not simply those who were murdered, as terrible as that is, but it is an effort to achieve peace.
I continue to believe that Israel should make every reasonable effort to achieve peace. I don't think we can fairly say to the Israeli Government peace must be achieved, because that is not entirely in their control. I remain, unfortunately, skeptical that they have a true partner for peace on the Palestinian side, although I think they should continue to see if they do.
But no one who understands democracy, no one who has seen the way we have reacted, the way Spain has reacted, the way other democracies have reacted, should feel that you can put pressure on Israel without taking into account the context of repeated murder in which they are asked to operate.