"The Truth From Oklahoma"
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 1976 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
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 door.
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.
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.
The second reason and 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
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 them.
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 was 1913.
The French author Voltaire described Palestine as ``a hopeless, dreary
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 until 1941; 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 Turks.
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.
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
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.
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
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 to 1.
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.
The seventh reason, 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
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 in our
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
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.