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Barney Frank—Ariel Sharon
Harrison Weblog

2005 blog


Frank cites Sharon as courageous
for 'standing up to his friends'
,  Feb. 18, 2005

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 friends.

"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," Frank said. 

"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..."