Eliot Engel, staunch supporter of Israel, concludes 32 years in Congress

“I said at the start of my time here, that Israel would not have a better friend in Congress then Elliot Engel,” he said in his last speech at the House floor.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meets with US Reps. Ed Royce (left) and Eliot Engel. (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meets with US Reps. Ed Royce (left) and Eliot Engel.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
WASHINGTON – Eliot Engel, the outgoing chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted over the weekend that it has been “the honor of a lifetime” to serve the Bronx and Westchester residents.
“After 32 wonderful years, today is my final day as a Member of Congress,” he tweeted. “I am eternally grateful for having been afforded the opportunity to represent you in Washington for 16 terms.”
Engel, who is considered a staunch supporter of Israel, lost his reelection primary bid last June to Jamaal Bowman. In his last speech on the House floor in December, he went through some of his service’s meaningful stations.
“When I was first elected to Congress 32 years ago, then majority leader Tom Foley of Washington State asked me my top three choices for committee assignments,” Engel recalled. “I had to write it down one, two and three. For one, I wrote Foreign Affairs. For two, I wrote Foreign Affairs. And for three I wrote Foreign Affairs.
“I did it because I wanted to emphasize the fact that I had hoped to be on the committee. Even though people said to me, Why do you want to be on Foreign Affairs? It’s not a committee that’s back home. It’s not something that you can meet people on. It’s foreign affairs; it’s all over the world.
“I haven’t regretted being the member of the committee and being the chairman of the committee on foreign affairs for one day. To me, what’s going on in the world is so important, and this Congress needs to be engaged in this.”
“I said Foreign Affairs because since I was a kid growing up in the Bronx, New York, in public housing, since that time I’ve been fascinated with America’s leadership role in the world,” he said. “All four of my grandparents were immigrants, Jewish immigrants from what’s now Ukraine, who fled the pogroms of the early 20th century, looking for a safe haven and opportunity. And guess what? They found it in America.
“They came here before World War I. If they hadn’t come here, they almost certainly would’ve perished in the Holocaust. This country has been a refuge to people who are hurting for many, many years, and I’m grateful for it.”
Engel also addressed the US-Israel relationship.
“I said at the start of my time here that Israel would not have a better friend in Congress than Elliot Engel,” he said. “And no matter where you stand on US policy towards Israel, it would be tough to argue that I haven’t lived up to that commitment.
“I’ve been proud to stand with our ally Israel, our closest friend in the Middle East and, I would argue, in the world throughout my career. I believe that the United States and Israel share an incredibly important partnership. And the cornerstone of this relationship is the support it receives from both sides of the aisle. Congress should continue to give this partnership its full support in the future. No one should play partisan politics with America’s relationship with Israel,” Engel said.