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July 27, 2006

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SP

Darrell Issa is Lebanese-American and along with a handful of other Lebanese-Americans in Congress has tried to get resolutions supporting Israel's military campaign to include mention of protecting Lebanese civilians.

SP

Here's the relevant Washington Post article, ustaz - and Lebanese-American reps in Congress put out a statement and participated in a conference called by the Arab American Institute when the latest conflict erupted.
http://www.aaiusa.org/press-room/2313/aainews072506

House's Support of Israel Draws Warning
Lawmakers Urge More Sympathy for Lebanon

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 26, 2006; A10

Even as the fighting continues and the civilian casualties mount in Lebanon, sentiment in Congress is overwhelmingly on Israel's side. Last week, the House passed a resolution, 410 to 8, that went even beyond the Bush administration in supporting for Israel in its battle with Hezbollah militants.

A bid by the four House lawmakers of Lebanese descent to add language urging restraint against civilian targets was rejected in negotiations. The resolution's only nod to those caught in the crossfire came in a recognition of "Israel's longstanding commitment to minimizing civilian loss" and an expression of condolences -- in the last sentence of a three-page document -- "to all innocent victims of recent violence in Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories."

But a few lawmakers from both parties are warning that the United States and Israel may pay a price -- in world opinion and in public support -- if Congress does not find a middle ground in the search for a peaceful resolution.

"We're going to be vindicated," predicted Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a Lebanese American who failed to secure language urging "all parties to protect innocent life and civilian infrastructure." "On the night of the vote, that wasn't the will of the Congress. But . . . 10 weeks from now, the fighting will be over. In 10 weeks, I think we will regret not having shown more empathy for the suffering of innocent Lebanese."

Rep. Nick J. Rahall II (D-W.Va.), another lawmaker of Lebanese descent, said that "the longer carnage continues, there will be reassessment in American public opinion of the American role in bringing this to a stop."

Discussions in Congress yesterday, however, revolved not around the civilian carnage dominating diplomatic debates but Democratic lawmakers' threats to boycott a speech by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki today if he does not renounce his denunciations of Israel's actions. Even some of the Lebanese American lawmakers involved last week say they never had a chance to prevail.

"Israel obviously dominates the House," said Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.). "If these were innocent people dying by the hundreds in Israel, there would be another resolution on the floor this week. But I knew it would be a losing proposition. The House tilts so far toward Israel and so far against anything else, I knew it would be like going into a tsunami."

Recognizing the political dynamics from the start, Issa, LaHood, Rahall and Charles Boustany (R-La.) chose their words carefully when they drew up a resolution "condemning the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers by Hamas and Hezbollah, affirming the right of Israel to conduct operations to secure the kidnapped soldiers" and "urging all parties to protect innocent life and civilian infrastructure."

The first five clauses of the document placed the blame for the crisis squarely on Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria and elements of the Lebanese government before expressing concerns for the fate of Lebanon's democratically elected government. Support for its call for restraint came in the form of a quotation from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saying, "All sides must act with restraint to resolve this incident peacefully and to protect innocent life."

But the response from House Republican leaders was unequivocal.

"The Israelis were attacked by Hezbollah terrorists operating out of southern Lebanon. It is the terrorist organization that is lobbing grenades and lobbing missiles into northern Israel," Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said yesterday. "Are there going to be civilian casualties? Yes. Are [the Israelis] doing their best to minimize those? Yes. But to put a terrorist organization on the same level as the Israeli government, I think, is unwise and unfair."

The sentiment has broad support in both parties. Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) said that language urging restraint to protect civilian life would have been interpreted as a slap at Israel -- and that at a time when world opinion is predictably against the Jewish state, the United States must stand firmly on Israel's side.

"I am very sensitive to Lebanon's budding democracy. I'm very sensitive to the delicate balancing act we're in, and I grieve for civilian casualties," Engel said. But he added: "I don't want to be an honest broker. I want to be a friend and ally of the only democratic government in the Middle East that is besieged by its enemies."

In today's heated atmosphere, even the Lebanese American lawmakers are careful to express their support for Israel and for its right of self-defense. Each represents a district with a large Lebanese population, and each said he has heard harrowing stories of devastation and angry constituent appeals for action.

"Violence and warfare are always disturbing, but as policymakers, we need to look at what steps need to be made to make a lasting peace, not just knee-jerk reactions," Boustany said. "I agree with what Israel is doing."

But as conversations continue, their concerns quickly swing to the stories that constituents tell: of Israeli raids on a Beirut airport fuel depot "just so they can have a July Fourth fireworks event," as Issa put it, or the bombing of a radio tower in LaHood's ancestral village of Atou, 100 miles north of Beirut and far from Hezbollah's influence.

"I understand why the Israelis would attack the sources of the rocket launches in the south," Issa said. "But I'm not going to ignore these attacks on targets far to the north, in Christian neighborhoods where it appears to be punishment of the people of Lebanon."

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Gag Halfrunt

"Khashokhjy" looks like "Kashoggi" rendered in a language other than English (no idea which one). Perhaps he still uses the local-language spelling of his name from a previous posting.

the aardvark

Yes, it's Kashoggi - which is a pretty odd way of transliterating the name, but it's what he chooses to use. I don't know where al-Hurra got that gem of a spelling!

hosni

I have an unrelater question that i posted a couple threads ago. Do you know whether arab media is reporting that the Israeli soldiers were captured in Israel or Lebanon? My understanding is that the truth is that they were in Lebanon when they were captured, but the American media just was wrong and repeated Israeli press releases. Do you know where they really were when they were captured?

this article implies lebanon and references several news articles:
http://www.antiwar.com/frank/?articleid=9401

Thank you,

Nur al-cubicle

One hell of a lot of Jewish Americans; no Cheyenne, Buddhist-Americans, Congretationalists, Unitarians or Gore Vidal. And al-Hurrah calls that "American" representatation?

SP, for heaven's sake, post a link!

Jamal

FYI, Edward Abington was the former General Consul in Jerusalem in the late 90s. As is often the case between Consulate Jerusalem versus Embassy Tel Aviv, he happened to notice that Palestinians have it kind of rough under the Israelis and reported such back to Washington, for which he was roundly slapped down and a nice, docile replacement was found for him to head the Consulate. Keep in mind this was under Clinton who despite all the myths about heavily involving himself in the peace process was mostly asleep at the wheel having turned it over to the highest bidder (WINEP). Abington did spend some time acting as a lobbyist I think for the PLO in Washington (might have been for the PA technically, not sure). Very good, respectable guy and no Israeli or WINEP lapdog by any means. That said, still totally agree that the guest list is lopsided.

From a personal perspective, I appeared on al-Hurra numerous doing both soundbites and interviews. I know, I know, I was a media whore. Basically they paid me $150 each time to talk for 2 minutes or less, I was discussing economic issues, and - the real kicker - I knew nobody was watching me anyways! And to redeem myself, I did speak on Jazeera several times too so apparently my image never suffered in their eyes. Jazeera never paid me, though I had another friend who said they offered to, but some work rule meant he had to turn it down. Al-Hurra certainly never lacked for cash though, their totally non-Arab valley girl schedulers (and occasional interviewers) as time went on were paying me the same money for shorter and shorter soundbites. I'll never forget the first time I went on, there was Kanan Makiya up on one of the many big (very expensive taxpayer funded) plasma TVs, and in front of me in the chair was Rob "I swear I'm a professor at Georgetown, really" Sobhani spouting off as an obvious nuclear engineering expert about how Bushehr was gonna blow up like Chernobyl and poison the Gulf for all eternity because (gasp!) RUSSIANS were building it!

As an aside, I was on all these channels talking about oil and I have to say I always got a kick out of the Jazeera questions. When American media interviewed me about the Middle East and oil prices the insinuation in the questions was always "the Arabs are screwing us aren't they?" And when Jazeera interviewed me they'd always ask me "what's the fair price of oil?" with a very clear insinuation from their perspective of "the West is screwing us aren't they?" What can you say, each side has their perspective and as far as the other view goes la naqati lana fiha wala gamal.

laahada

Walid Phares is a Lebanese-American. Kinda shoots another whole in your theory.

aardvark

Sorta... Walid Phares is indeed Lebanese-American, but (like many people) of a distinctive ideological and sectarian cast. I'm happy to include him in the count, bringing the number to two Arab-Americans and zero American Muslims. I think this "theory" (which is actually a straightforward head count, not a theory) can withstand such holes.

Joanne McGahagan

There are at least three Arab-Americans on your panels. Ambassador Ted Kattouf is an Arab-American, the first Arab-American appointed as Amabassador under President Bill Clinton. Ted's parents are Palestinian-American.

aardvark

Yes, Ted is a wonderful guy, a distinguished ambassador, and currently head of AMIDEAST. I didn't include him for the same reason I didn't include Ross as WINEP or Indyk as Brookings or WINEP - because al-Hurra classified them as former ambassadors and they were there in that capacity. But since he is a prominent Arab-American, and a great guy, go ahead and count him in as an Arab-American, and count Phares and Issa too. This revises my indictment to "no Bush administration policymakers, no Democrats, extreme ideological imbalance among the pundits, severe under-representation of Arab-Americans, no American Muslims, and an alarmingly small number of non-Lebanese Arabs."

Whether that characterization is accurate isn't an interesting question - the numbers speak for themselves. What would be interesting to know is whether this distribution reflects an intentional choice on their part, or whether they just have so much trouble getting people on to the station that this is what they got. Either one would be damning, but in different ways.

Richard Dante

It is interesting to note how many inaccuracies were pointed out in the original posting from al-Hurra.
Also, I do believe Israel is fighting in Lebanon, so I would expect Lebanese, and not Egyptians,Iraqis, or "the rest of the Arab world" to be present, and indeed they were, and they outnumbered the Israelis. Sloppy journalism helps fuel hatred and division, and is useless, even hurtful, to everyone seeking solutions

Henry Munson

Walid Phares is a right-wing Maronite sympathetic to the neoconservative view of the Middle East. See his article about al-Jazeera: http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-phares032603.asp.

Mr. Truther

When are you people going to broach the fact that 9/11 was an inside job??? Facts leading to this conclusion were presented on C-SPAN today!!! The show will be repeated tonight & tomorrow!!!

Insider


Mohamed Al Zulfa is a member in Al Shura Council (Saudi Parliament, where members are appointed by a royal decree). He is considered a liberal, and is famous for raising the issue of women driving in Saudi.

Abu Sinan

It doesnt matter. Al Hurra's media share is next to nothing.

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