U.S. Rep. Barney Frank
(D-Mass) in a Feb. 17 presentation to his colleagues in the House of Representatives, saluted
Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon not for standing up to his enemies, but for having the courage to stand up to his
"The hard thing in politics is to tell people whose values they share, whose traditions they come from, the people who are
aligned with them on most issues, the hard thing is to say to them 'on this I think they are wrong, in this I think in our
own best interest we have to rethink it.'"
Frank said that along with Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Sharon has realized that to maintain a state that is both
Jewish and democratic, he has to help the Palestinians
establish their own neighboring state.
"And let me just address now those who have begun to say, 'wait a minute, we should not have a Jewish state. Let us have a
binational state.' People who argue against a religious state, when we are talking about Israel being a Jewish state, do not
have a great deal of credibility when they see no problem with the existence of a number of very strict Islamic states,"
"How can we accept the existence of the theocracy of Saudi Arabia and then object to a Jewish state in Israel? Ideally, I
suppose, there are people who could argue that no state should be a religious state, but I do not know anyone in the world
who consistently holds that position. Certainly in the Middle East, a large number of the states are religious states. They
are Islamic states. Iraq, the predominant party of the last Iraq election, which we consider to be a great triumph of
democracy, they are committed to an Islamic state. There is debate about how strictly they will hold to it.
"So objecting to Israel being a Jewish state, especially given the history of the Holocaust, given the lack of a place to
which Jews could go when their lives were at risk, to quibble about Israel being a Jewish state, when we do not at all object
to the proliferation of Arab states, clearly is not a morally coherent position. It can be disregarded."
Frank also told his colleagues that he considers Syria's occupation of
Lebanon far worse than Israel's occupation of
Gaza and the West Bank.
"Lebanon was, outside of Israel, the only nation in the Middle East that qualified as a democracy," Frank said. "And it was a
multi-religious democracy. It was a democracy in which Christian and various Islamic sects coexisted. And then the PLO was
expelled from Jordan. And the PLO was not welcome in any Arab country. So they went to Lebanon, because only Lebanon, a
thriving, commercial democratic society, was too weak to keep them out.
"And so first the PLO come into Lebanon, and that caused great turmoil in Lebanon, and then Syria used that as an excuse
to take it over. We recently saw the murder of a Lebanese patriot who was a critic of Syrian domination, and we do not know
who did it. But I have no reason to disagree with the apparent view of our administration that Syrians are the likeliest
culprits in this murder, and certainly Syria has throttled the one democracy that existed in the Arab world, and Syria
continues to be a destabilizing force..."