Wednesday, May 24, 2000

Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to
recognize the International Coalition for
Missing Israeli Soldiers and its dedicated
staff. Since its inception seven years ago, the
Coalition has been the driving force behind
the international grassroots campaign to
return lsrael's missing soldiers to their
families. The Coalition's efforts, both in the
United States and abroad, have jarred the
conscience of the international community on
behalf of American citizen Zachary Baumel,
and other missing Israeli soldiers. The single-
minded dedication of this organization to
assisting these soldiers, who were all but
forgotten by the international community, has
thrust the issue once again onto the
international agenda.
    In particular, Mr. Speaker I want to note the
successful lobbying efforts of the Coalition for
legislation which I introduced in the Congress
last year- H.R. 1175, "a bill to Locate and
Secure the Release of Zachary Baumel, an
American Citizen, and Other Israeli Soldiers
Missing in Action." Some one hundred
members of the House joined as cosponsors of
this legislation, and ultimately the bill passed
with the unanimous support of both the House
and Senate. It was signed into law by
President Clinton last November. I took this
action in order to raise the priority of this issue
in American foreign policy and to facilitate a
more concerted effort to bring closure on this
matter after eighteen frustrating years.
    Mr. Speaker, Israel is our closest ally in the
region, and some years ago Israel played a
major role in securing the release of American
hostages being held in Lebanon. Now it is only
fitting that we repay this debt, and take
meaningful action on behalf of Israel's
missing soldiers. Success in this endeavor
can only strengthen American initiatives in the
Middle East, by creating an atmosphere that
can make Middle East peace a reality.
    On June 4th of this year, Mr. Speaker, the
Coalition is sponsoring "An Evening of
Conscience" Dinner in Jerusalem. I would like
to take this opportunity to wish the Coalition
great success at this upcoming event and
recognize the leadership and staff of the
Coalition for the remarkable work that has
been done by Coalition Chairman Daniel
Eisen, and the Coalition staff members:
Brigitte Silverberg, Reya Eisen, Daniel
Ehrlich, Daniel Grisarou, Gittel Davis,
Gedalya Gower, and the Coalition's
Washington representatives Alyza D. Lewin
and Vicki Iseman.
    Mr. Speaker it is my sincere hope that
Zachary Baumel, Tzvi Feldman, Yehuda
Katz, and Ron Arad will soon be home with
their families, and that the dedicated staff of
the Coalition will be able to find other uses for
their many talents.

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