- "PEACE IN
THE MIDDLE EAST"
- Senate Floor Statement by U.S.
Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla)
March 4, 2002
- "I was interested the other day
when I heard that the de facto ruler, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince
Abdullah, made a statement which was received by many in this
country as if it were a statement of fact, as if it were something
new, a concept for peace in the Middle East that no one had ever
heard of before. I was kind of shocked that it was so well received
by many people who had been down this road before. I suggest
to you that what Crown Prince Abdullah talked about a few days
ago was not new at all. He talked about the fact that under the
Abdullah plan, Arabs would normalize relations with Israel in
exchange for the Jewish state surrendering the territory it received
after the 1967 Six-Day War as if that were something new. He
went on to talk about other land that had been acquired and had
been taken by Israel. I remember so well on December 4 when we
covered all of this and the fact that there isn't anything new
about the prospect of giving up land that is rightfully Israel's
land in order to have peace.
- When it gets right down to it, the
land doesn't make that much difference because Yasser Arafat
and others don't recognize Israel's right to any of the land.
They do not recognize Israel's right to exist. I will discuss
seven reasons, which I mentioned once before, why Israel is entitled
to the land they have and that it should not be a part of the
peace process. If this is something that Israel wants to do,
it is their business to do it. But anyone who has tried to put
the pressure on Israel to do this is wrong. We are going to be
hit by skeptics who are going to say we will be attacked because
of our support for Israel, and if we get out of the Middle East--that
is us--all the problems will go away. That is just not true.
If we withdraw, all of these problems will again come to our
- I have some observations to make about
that. But I would like to reemphasize once again the seven reasons
that Israel has the right to their land.
- I. The Jews' Right to
- The first reason is that Israel has
the right to the land because of all of the archeological evidence.
That is reason, No. 1. All the archeological evidence supports
it. Every time there is a dig in Israel, it does nothing but
support the fact that Israelis have had a presence there for
3,000 years. They have been there for a long time. The coins,
the cities, the pottery, the culture--there are other people,
groups that are there, but there is no mistaking the fact that
Israelis have been present in that land for 3,000 years. It predates
any claims that other peoples in the regions may have. The ancient
Philistines are extinct. Many other ancient peoples are extinct.
They do not have the unbroken line to this date that the Israelis
have. Even the Egyptians of today are not racial Egyptians of
2,000, 3,000 years ago. They are primarily an Arab people. The
land is called Egypt, but they are not the same racial and ethnic
stock as the old Egyptians of the ancient world. The first Israelis
are in fact descended from the original Israelites. The first
proof, then, is the archeology.
- II. The Jews' Right to
- The second proof of Israel's right
to the land is the historic right. History supports it totally
and completely. We know there has been an Israel up until the
time of the Roman Empire. The Romans conquered the land. Israel
had no homeland, although Jews were allowed to live there. They
were driven from the land in two dispersions: One was in 70 A,.D.
and the other was in 135 A.D. But there was always a Jewish presence
in the land. The Turks, who took over about 700 years ago and
ruled the land up until about World War I, had control. Then
the land was conquered by the British. The Turks entered World
War I on the side of Germany. The British knew they had to do
something to punish Turkey, and also to break up that empire
that was going to be a part of the whole effort of Germany in
World War I. So the British sent troops against the Turks in
the Holy Land. One of the generals who was leading the British
armies was a man named Allenby. Allenby was a Bible-believing
Christian. He carried a Bible with him everywhere he went and
he knew the significance of Jerusalem. The night before the attack
against Jerusalem to drive out the Turks, Allenby prayed that
God would allow him to capture the city without doing damage
to the holy places. That day, Allenby sent World War I biplanes
over the city of Jerusalem to do a reconnaissance mission. You
have to understand that the Turks had at that time never seen
an airplane. So there they were, flying around. They looked in
the sky and saw these fascinating inventions and did not know
what they were, and they were terrified by them. Then they were
told they were going to be opposed by a man named Allenby the
next day, which means, in their language, ``man sent from God''
or ``prophet from God.'' They dared not fight against a prophet
from God, so the next morning, when Allenby went to take Jerusalem,
he went in and captured it without firing a single shot.
- The British Government was grateful
to Jewish people around the world, particularly to one Jewish
chemist who helped them manufacture niter. Niter is an ingredient
that was used in nitroglycerin which was sent over from the New
World. But they did not have a way of getting it to England.
The German U-boats were shooting on the boats, so most of the
niter they were trying to import to make nitroglycerin was at
the bottom of the ocean. But a man named Weitzman, a Jewish chemist,
discovered a way to make it from materials that existed in England.
As a result, they were able to continue that supply. The British
at that time said they were going to give the Jewish people a
homeland. That is all a part of history. It is all written down
in history. They were gratified that the Jewish people, the bankers,
came through and helped finance the war. The homeland that Britain
said it would set aside consisted of all of what is now Israel
and all of what was then the nation of Jordan--the whole thing.
That was what Britain promised to give the Jews in 1917. In the
beginning, there was some Arab support for this action. There
was not a huge Arab population in the land at that time, and
there is a reason for that. The land was not able to sustain
a large population of people. It just did not have the development
it needed to handle those people, and the land was not really
wanted by anybody. Nobody really wanted this land. It was considered
to be worthless land. I want the Presiding Officer to hear what
Mark Twain said. And, of course, you may have read ``Huckleberry
Finn'' and ``Tom Sawyer.'' Mark Twain--Samuel Clemens--took a
tour of Palestine in 1867. This is how he described that land.
We are talking about Israel now. He said: "A
desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given over
wholly to weeds. A silent, mournful expanse. We never saw a human
being on the whole route. There was hardly a tree or a shrub
anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of
a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country."
- Where was this great Palestinian nation?
It did not exist. It was not there. Palestinians
were not there. Palestine was a region named by the Romans, but
at that time it was under the control of Turkey, and there was
no large mass of people there because the land would not support
- This is the report that the Palestinian
Royal Commission, created by the British, made. It quotes an
account of the conditions on the coastal plain along the Mediterranean
Sea in 1913. This is the Palestinian Royal Commission. They said:
"The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer
track, suitable for transport by camels or carts. No orange groves,
orchards or vineyards were to be seen until one reached the Yavnev
village. Houses were mud. Schools did not exist. The western
part toward the sea was almost a desert. The villages in this
area were few and thinly populated. Many villages were deserted
by their inhabitants." That
- The French author Voltaire described
Palestine as ``a hopeless, dreary place.'' In short, under the
Turks the land suffered from neglect and low population. That
is a historic fact. The nation became populated by both Jews
and Arabs because the land came to prosper when Jews came back
and began to reclaim it. Historically, they began to reclaim
it. If there had never been any archaeological evidence to support
the rights of the Israelis to the territory, it is also important
to recognize that other nations in the area have no longstanding
claim to the country either. Did you know that Saudi Arabia was
not created until 1913, Lebanon until 1920? Iraq did not exist
as a nation until 1932, Syria until1941; the borders of Jordan
were established in 1946 and Kuwait in 1961. Any of these nations
that would say Israel is only a recent arrival would have to
deny their own rights as recent arrivals as well. They did not
exist as countries. They were all under the control of the
- III. The Jews' Right to
- Historically, Israel gained its independence
in 1948. The third reason that land belongs to Israel is the
practical value of the Israelis being there. Israel today is
a modern marvel of agriculture. Israel is able to bring more
food out of a desert environment than any other country in the
world. The Arab nations ought to make Israel their friend and
import technology from Israel that would allow all the Middle
East, not just Israel, to become an exporter of food. Israel
has unarguable success in its agriculture.
- IV. The Jews' Right to
- The fourth reason I believe Israel
has the right to the land is on the grounds of humanitarian concern.
You see, there were 6 million Jews slaughtered in Europe in World
War II. The persecution against the Jews had been very strong
in Russia since the advent of communism. It was against them
even before then under the Czars. These people have a right to
their homeland. If we are not going to allow them a homeland
in the Middle East, then where? What other nation on Earth is
going to cede territory, is going to give up land? They are not
asking for a great deal. The whole nation of Israel would fit
into my home State of Oklahoma seven times. It would fit into
the Presiding Officer's State of Georgia seven times. They are
not asking for a great deal. The whole nation of Israel is very
small. It is a nation that, up until the time that claims started
coming in, was not desired by anybody.
- V. The Jews' Right to
- The fifth reason Israel ought to have
their land is that she is a strategic ally of the United States.
Whether we realize it or not, Israel is a detriment, an impediment,
to certain groups hostile to democracies and hostile to what
we believe in, hostile to that which makes us the greatest nation
in the history of the world. They have kept them from taking
complete control of the Middle East. If it were not for Israel,
they would overrun the region. They are our strategic ally. It
is good to know we have a friend in the Middle East on whom we
can count. They vote with us in the United Nations more than
England, more than Canada, more than France, more than Germany--more
than any other country in the world.
- VI. The Jews' Right to
- The sixth reason is that Israel is
a roadblock to terrorism. The war we are now facing is not against
a sovereign nation; it is against a group of terrorists who are
very fluid, moving from one country to another. They are almost
invisible. That is whom we are fighting against today. We need
every ally we can get. If we do not stop terrorism in the Middle
East, it will be on our shores. We have said this again and again
and again, and it is true. One of the reasons I believe the spiritual
door was opened for an attack against the United States of America
is that the policy of our Government has been to ask the Israelis,
and demand it with pressure, not to retaliate in a significant
way against the terrorist strikes that have been launched against
them. Since its independence in 1948, Israel has fought four
wars: The war in 1948 and 1949--that was the war for independence--the
war in 1956, the Sinai campaign; the Six-Day War in 1967; and
in 1973, the Yom Kippur War, the holiest day of the year, and
that was with Egypt and Syria. You have to understand that in
all four cases, Israel was attacked. They were not the aggressor.
Some people may argue that this was not true because they went
in first in 1956, but they knew at that time that Egypt was building
a huge military to become the aggressor. Israel, in fact, was
not the aggressor and has not been the aggressor in any of the
four wars. Also, they won all four wars against impossible odds.
They are great warriors. They consider a level playing field
being outnumbered 2 to1. There were 39 Scud missiles that landed
on Israeli soil during the gulf war. Our President asked Israel
not to respond. In order to have the Arab nations on board, we
asked Israel not to participate in the war. They showed tremendous
restraint and did not. Now we have asked them to stand back and
not do anything over these last several attacks. We have criticized
them. We have criticized them in our media. Local people in television
and radio often criticize Israel, not knowing the true facts.
We need to be informed. I was so thrilled when I heard a reporter
pose a question to our Secretary of State, Colin Powell. He said:
Mr. Powell, the United States has advocated a policy of restraint
in the Middle East. We have discouraged Israel from retaliation
again and again and again because we've said it leads to continued
escalation--that it escalates the violence. Are we going to follow
that preaching ourselves? Mr. Powell indicated we would strike
back. In other words, we can tell Israel not to do it, but when
it hits us, we are going to do something.
- But all that changed in December when
the Israelis went into the Gaza with gunships and into the West
Bank with F-16s. With the exception of last May, the Israelis
had not used F-16s since the 1967 6-Day War. And I am so proud
of them because we have to stop terrorism. It is not going to
go away. If Israel were driven into the sea tomorrow, if every
Jew in the Middle East were killed, terrorism would not end.
You know that in your heart. Terrorism would continue. It is
not just a matter of Israel in the Middle East. It is the heart
of the very people who are perpetrating this stuff. Should they
be successful in overrunning Israel--which they won't be--but
should they be, it would not be enough. They will never be satisfied.
- VII. The Jews' Right to
- No. 7, I believe very strongly that
we ought to support Israel; that it has a right to the land.
This is the most important reason: Because God said so. As I
said a minute ago, look it up in the book of Genesis. It is right
up there on the desk. In Genesis 13:14-17, the Bible says: The
Lord said to Abram, ``Lift up now your eyes, and look from the
place where you are northward, and southward, and eastward and
westward: for all the land which you see, to you will I give
it, and to your seed forever. ..... Arise, walk through the land
in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give
it to thee.'' That is God talking. The Bible says that Abram
removed his tent and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which
is in Hebron, and built there an altar before the Lord. Hebron
is in the West Bank. It is at this place where God appeared to
Abram and said, ``I am giving you this land,''--the West Bank.
This is not a political battle at all. It is a contest over whether
or not the word of God is true.
- The seven reasons, I am convinced,
clearly establish that Israel has a right to the land. Eight
years ago on the lawn of the White House, Yitzhak Rabin shook
hands with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. It was a historic occasion.
It was a tragic occasion. At that time, the official policy of
the Government of Israel began to be, ``Let us appease the terrorists.
Let us begin to trade the land for peace.'' This process continued
unabated up until last year. Here inour own Nation, at Camp David,
in the summer of 2000, then Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak
offered the most generous concessions to Yasser Arafat that had
ever been laid on the table. He offered him more than 90 percent
of all the West Bank territory, sovereign control of it. There
were some parts he did not want to offer, but in exchange for
that he said he would give up land in Israel proper that the
PLO had not even asked for. And he also did the unthinkable.
He even spoke of dividing Jerusalem and allowing the Palestinians
to have their capital there in the East. Yasser Arafat stormed
out of the meeting. Why did he storm out of the meeting? Everything
he had said he wanted was offered there. It was put into his
hands. Why did he storm out of the meeting?
- A couple of months later, there began
to be riots, terrorism. The riots began when now Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon went to the Temple Mount. And this was used as the
thing that lit the fire and that caused the explosion. Did you
know that Sharon did not go unannounced and that he contacted
the Islamic authorities before he went and secured their permission
and had permission to be there? It was no surprise. The response
was very carefully calculated. They knew the world would not
pay attention to the details. They would portray this in the
Arab world as an attack upon the holy mosque. They would portray
it as an attack upon that mosque and use it as an excuse to riot.
Over the last 8 years, during this time of the peace process,
where the Israeli public has pressured its leaders to give up
land for peace because they are tired of fighting, there has
been increased terror. In fact, it has been greater in the last
8 years than any other time in Israel's history. Showing restraint
and giving in has not produced any kind of peace. It is so much
so that today the leftist peace movement in Israel does not exist
because the people feel they were deceived. They did offer a
hand of peace, and it was not taken. That is why the politics
of Israel have changed drastically over the past 12 months. The
Israelis have come to see that, ``No matter what we do, these
people do not want to deal with us. ..... They want to destroy
us.'' That is why even yet today the stationery of the PLO still
has upon it the map of the entire state of Israel, not just the
tiny little part they call the West Bank that they want. They
want it all.
- We have to get out of this mind set
that somehow you can buy peace in the Middle East by giving little
plots of land. It has not worked before when it has been offered.
These seven reasons show why Israel is entitled to that land."
- If you wish to comment on this speech
to the Senator, you may email him here: Jim_inhofe@inhofe.senate.gov