Arab-American Congressman Rahall Responds to Middle East Violence
‘Enough is Enough’: Rahall Urges Bush To Include Israeli PM In Calls To Arab Leaders
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) called on President Bush, who today is making calls to Arab leaders, to also contact Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and tell him that it is time for the disproportionate use of violence to end and for negotiations to begin.
Full text of Rahall’s letter to the President follows:
Dear Mr. President:
In the past few days the Middle East has been rocked with violence in ways that we have not seen in years. As the United States is a close ally of Israel, I am calling on you, as you are making your calls to Arab leaders, to tell Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that enough is enough. It is time for the disproportionate use of violence to end and for negotiations to begin.
The United Nations is sending a special envoy to the region, Egypt is acting as a regional liaison and is prepared to negotiate the release of the Israeli soldiers, and the United States is in a unique position to approach the Israeli government and appeal for cooler heads to prevail. Many of our allies are already calling for negotiations. Prime Minister Blair has said that the only way to resolve this is through talks, and not fighting and expressed his concerns about how this not only destabilizes the Middle East, but the rest of the entire world. Both Presidents Putin and Chirac have also called for an end to Israel’s military solution, as has Secretary General Annan.
Not only are innocent civilians losing their lives as we speak, but also vital support systems, services and infrastructure needed for day-to-day living are being bombed hourly. Also in severe jeopardy of losing its life is the new pro-American, pro-democracy government of the land of my grandfathers, Lebanon. Only a year and a half ago, as we all will recall, the Cedar Revolution brought such new life and new hope for this country. The United States is sorely in need of democratic states in the Middle East with which we can work, and the U.S. and Lebanon have long shared the values of life and liberty that we all hold dear.
Additionally, the Lebanese Government has little knowledge nor collusion with, nor agreement with what the military wing of Hezbollah does. They have condemned these recent actions, as I have done. Every actor in the region knows this, yet some try to convince the world otherwise for their own motives, whether it is for land, for reoccupation or to send signals to other countries.
If these reasons are not sufficient, I would call on you to discuss an end to Israel’s military action for the sake of our own people and institutions in Lebanon. The large number of American interests and Americans in country make the ongoing violence a danger to our citizens as well. It is unconscionable to think that our tax dollars have helped to pay for weaponry that may in turn harm our own citizens.
Mr. President, I was in Beirut 24 years ago almost to the day when Israel was bombing that country to rid it of the PLO when President Ronald Reagan had the courage and sense to personally call then Prime Minister Menachem Begin and say enough is enough, stop the bombing and, Mr. President, I personally call on you today to include Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in your calls and say enough is enough.
With warm regard, I am