Congressional leaders slam efforts to demonize Israel

Steny Hoyer: "If this is a new era of openness, it matters more than ever that the Arab people have a view of Israel unclouded by bigotry.”

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, JPOST CORRESPONDENT
April 5, 2011 20:52
2 minute read.
US Congressman Steny H. Hoyer.

US congressman steny hoyer 311. (photo credit: Courtesy of US Congress Web site.)

 
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WASHINGTON – A leading US Congressman blasted demonization of Israel and anti- Semitism in the Arab world Tuesday, and stressed that action against incitement must be part of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

“If this is a new era of openness in the Middle East, then the work of defending Israel from ideological attacks becomes even more pressing,” House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer told the Anti-Defamation League’s leadership conference.

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“That’s because, if this is a new era of openness, it matters more than ever that the Arab people have a view of Israel unclouded by bigotry.”

But he said that effort would be a hefty undertaking given “the lingering effect of generations of anti-Semitic propaganda and incitement of hatred,” often peddled by Middle East leaders who have used the issue to deflect attention from their own shortcomings.

He said that effort was particularly important in the Palestinian Authority, which he has taken to task for problematic material in its textbooks.

“Strong action against incitement must be a part of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process – so that Israelis and Palestinians can one day have a peace that is lasting and durable,” he declared.

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Hoyer welcomed the recent retraction Judge Richard Goldstone offered on the findings of a UN commission of inquiry he headed accusing the IDF of war crimes in its confrontation with Hamas, but warned that “words, once said, are nearly impossible to take back.”

Hoyer also welcomed the Obama administration’s response to another UN action, a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements on which the White House used its first UN veto.

Republican Steve Chabot, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Middle East subcommittee, followed Hoyer and told the crowd that he found himself in the rare position of agreeing with just about everything Hoyer said.

However, he took exception to the administration’s decision to accompany its UN veto with a statement echoing many parts of the resolution criticizing settlements.

Chabot stressed the importance of opposing efforts to isolate and demonize Israel.

“When it comes to the delegitimization of Israel, one need look no further than New York, [to] the United Nations,” he said. “The discredited UN Human Rights Council is at the heart of [the] anti-Israel movement.”

He noted that Goldstone worked under the auspices of the council, and that its activities would be reviewed as part of a series of hearings the House Foreign Affairs Committee would be conducting.

“United Nations reform [is] an action I believe is long overdue,” he said. “As the UN’s leading bankroller, we have that obligation. And as Israel’s closest ally, we must remain steadfast.”

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