|February 28, 2002
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD --- Extension of Remarks
|500 DAYS IN CAPTIVITY - AND STILL COUNTING|
|HON. TOM LANTOS|
|IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES|
|Thursday, February 28, 2002|
Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to mark the 500th day of
captivity of Elchanan Tannenbaum--one of nine Israelis now held
captive by terrorist groups and regimes that sponsor terrorism. A
husband and the father of two, Elchanan is the only Israeli civilian to
be counted among Israel's missing. He is being held in Lebanon and is
presumed to be alive.
As we all know, Mr. Speaker, terror has many faces and takes many
forms. Sometimes terror targets large numbers of people in spectacular
acts of destruction as we saw on September 11th. At other times it
seeks to achieve its goals by targeting a single individual. Mr.
Tannenbaum was such a target, as was the American journalist Daniel
Pearl, whose brutal murder has sickened and saddened us all. Mr.
Tannenbaum's Hisballah captors have proudly announced their crime, with
their usual flair for the contemptuous. Although Mr. Tannenbaum has a
medical condition that requires daily attention, Hisballah has denied
the Red Cross permission to visit him.
The Tannenbaum kidnaping is further proof--as if it were needed--that
Hizbullah is a terrorist organization with global reach. If we ignore
this case of abduction, we are granting the terrorists a cheap and
formidable weapon. As long as groups like Hizbullah believe that they
can commit such actions with impunity, they will be encouraged to
continue to target the citizens of the world's democracies. To ignore
the plight of Elchanan Tannenbaum and Israel's other missing men, would
not only constitute an abandonment of our closest ally in the Middle
East, but would weaken our own efforts to secure a safe future for
Americans and others who have been seized by terrorists.
Mr. Speaker, I must point out that not only is it in America's
interest to help in this matter, but in fact it is our obligation to do
so. In 1991 Israel played a critical role in securing the release of
Terry Anderson and other American hostages being held in Lebanon by
releasing hundreds of terrorists from Israeli jails. At that time
Israel was promised that international efforts would continue on behalf
of Israeli captives left behind in Lebanon. It is now more than ten
years since that promise was made, and the number of captive Israelis
has only grown. It is time for us to repay out debt.
What can we do, Mr. Speaker? I believe the U.S. is well-positioned to
make demands of the Syrian government, which is effectively the ruling
power in Lebanon and is ultimately responsible for the fate of all
Israelis captured or held there. Syria is a sovereign state and
currently serves as a member of the UN Security Council. Syria, like
Lebanon, can and must be made accountable for the behavior of the
terrorist groups it harbors and supports. Greater U.S. resolve in
dealing with the Syrians can be critical in bringing Elchanan
Tannenbaum home alive.
Mr. Speaker, for too many years, Americans presumed that the
terrorist actions from which our Israeli allies suffered would not be
exported to our shores. September 11th has permanently shattered that
notion. We should now pay closer attention to the Israeli experience
with terrorism. The murder of Daniel Pearl is a warning that the ugly
specter of kidnaping that has plagued Israel for so many years is now
targeting Americans as well. Let us fight back. Calling attention to
Elchanan Tannenbaum's plight, and working to secure his release, would
be an important first step toward stopping this scourge.