[Congressional Record Volume 154, Number 151 (Tuesday, September 23, 2008)]
[Pages H8652-H8655]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. BERMAN. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to 
the resolution (H. Res. 1369) recognizing nongovernmental organizations 
working to bring just and lasting peace between Israelis and 
  The Clerk read the title of the resolution.
  The text of the resolution is as follows:

                              H. Res. 1369

       Whereas the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has cost many 
     innocent lives and continues to bring terrible suffering to 
     both peoples;
       Whereas despite the ongoing conflict, Israeli and 
     Palestinian individuals and nongovernmental organizations 
     have been working for decades to build bridges between the 
     two peoples, to address humanitarian concerns, and to further 
     the cause of peace;
       Whereas such individuals and nongovernmental organizations 
     that are committed to nonviolence, recognize Israel's right 
     to exist, and are dedicated to achieving a two-state solution 
     deserve recognition and encouragement to continue their 
     important work;
       Whereas the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is currently at a 
     critical juncture, and sustained progress towards peace 
     depends on the commitment of individuals and organizations 
     that choose dialogue, friendship, and openness;
       Whereas the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (Public 
     Law 109-446) permits the provision of United States 
     assistance to nongovernmental organizations to provide for 
     basic human needs, the protection of basic human freedoms, 
     and the promotion of human rights, nonviolence, and for a 
     just and peaceful reconciliation, provided that such 
     assistance does not knowingly and directly benefit any 
     terrorist organization;
       Whereas the initiatives of these individuals and 
     nongovernmental organizations reflect the tenacity of those 
     with a true commitment to peace, mutual respect, and 
     coexistence, and demonstrate the real impact that such people 
     can make on the lives of individuals and communities; and
       Whereas such initiatives build hope and trust among both 
     peoples and can help pave a path to peace: Now, therefore, be 
       Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
       (1) recognizes the vital role of nongovernmental 
     organizations in peace-building efforts between Israel and 
     Palestinians, and encourages them to remain steadfast in 
     their commitment to nonviolence, recognition of Israel's 
     right to exist, dedication to achieving a two-state solution, 
     and work toward building trust and cooperation between the 
     two peoples;
       (2) applauds the tireless work of these individuals and 
     nongovernmental organizations, and urges them to continue 
     their efforts;
       (3) acknowledges and encourages the important efforts and 
     support that these nongovernmental organizations, religious 
     organizations, and individuals committed to peace and 
     nonviolence contribute to these initiatives;
       (4) affirms the importance of United States support to 
     nongovernmental organizations that provide humanitarian aid 
     and work for democracy, human rights, and peace and 
     reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians; and
       (5) urges Israeli and Palestinian leaders to embrace the 
     spirit of nongovernmental peace builders toward achieving a 
     just and lasting peace.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Berman) and the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-
Lehtinen) each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California.

                             General Leave

  Mr. BERMAN. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and 
include extraneous material on the resolution under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from California?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. BERMAN. Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of this 
resolution, and I yield myself 3 minutes.

[[Page H8653]]

  I would like to thank, Madam Speaker, my friend and distinguished 
colleague, Representative Barbara Lee, for introducing this important 
resolution to highlight the work done by the NGO community in support 
of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. In spite of the shaky cease-fire 
reached between Israel and Hamas on the Gaza Strip, Hamas and other 
extremist Palestinian groups have neither changed their stated aim, 
namely, the destruction of the State of Israel, nor given up the use of 
terrorism and violence as a means to achieve that end.
  But while the terrorists of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic jihad 
continue to threaten innocent civilians and undermine peace efforts, we 
should recognize the courageous efforts being made by many 
nongovernmental organizations to do just the opposite, that is, to 
foster conditions that can lead to peace. Many of these groups work 
tirelessly and selflessly not only to improve the daily lives of 
Palestinians but also to effect peaceful coexistence between 
Palestinians and Israelis. One example, Seeds of Peace, brings Israeli 
and Arab youth together for summer retreats that cultivate a culture of 
understanding and tolerance among tomorrow's leaders.
  As this resolution affirms, it shall remain U.S. policy to actively 
support all those nongovernmental organizations that provide 
humanitarian assistance, promote democracy, human rights and work 
towards Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation while unequivocally opposing 
the use of violence. This resolution lends that encouragement and 
backing only to those NGOs that explicitly renounce violence, accept 
Israel's right to exist and support existing agreements between Israel 
and the Palestinians.
  I join the author of this resolution, Congresswoman Lee, in lauding 
contributions to peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians 
made by nongovernmental organizations. I hope, and believe and want to 
believe that this is the way of the future. I urge all my colleagues to 
support this resolution.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I would like to yield myself such time 
as I may consume.
  House Resolution 1369 recognizes the efforts of nongovernmental 
organizations working to bring just and lasting peace between Israelis 
and Palestinians.

                              {time}  1800

  I would like to thank my good friend from California, the gentlelady, 
Ms. Barbara Lee, for her hard work in drafting this important 
resolution. We all want to see peace, stability and security prevail in 
the Middle East and, indeed, in all regions of conflict. However, that 
goal remains elusive when leaders act in ways that distort, perpetuate 
and aggravate otherwise resolvable disputes between nations and 
peoples. Such leaders make peace impossible by programming their 
citizens into viewing other nations and other people as wicked, as 
inhuman, as worthy of hatred and even of death.
  Fortunately, the work of nongovernmental organizations and of 
individuals committed to nonviolence and to Israel's right to exist as 
a Jewish and as a Democratic state provide a counterweight to the 
purveyors of this terrible rhetoric. These individuals and NGOs 
cultivate relationships that oppose violent extremism and hateful 
propaganda, that promote a culture, instead, of life and that seek 
peaceful, rational and mutually beneficial solutions to seemingly 
intractable problems.
  So I commend the gentlelady from California (Ms. Lee) for its 
introduction, and I urge the passage of this important resolution.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, we have one speaker, the sponsor of the 
resolution, and I yield her, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, 4 minutes.
  Ms. LEE. Mr. Speaker, let me just say once again that I want to 
expressly thank the Chair of our committee, Mr. Berman, for his 
leadership and for his support in bringing this resolution to the 
  Also, I want to thank our ranking member, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-
Lehtinen, for her assistance in making sure that we can have a 
bipartisan resolution.
  Every now and then, I think we ought to talk about peace. You know, 
that seems not to be a word or a term that we discuss very often on 
this floor, so we have a chance to just say ``peace'' a few times 
  Thank you, Mr. Berman and Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, for giving us that 
  This resolution recognizes the vital role of nongovernmental 
organizations in peace-building efforts between Israelis and 
Palestinians, and it encourages them to remain steadfast in their 
commitment to nonviolence, in their recognition of Israel's right to 
exist, in their dedication to achieving a two-state solution, and in 
their work towards building trust and cooperation between the two 
  Mr. Speaker, this bipartisan resolution is strongly endorsed by many 
organizations and groups that have been long dedicated to the cause of 
peace, justice and of reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. 
I'd like to mention for a minute the supporters of this resolution:
  The Churches for Middle East Peace, which is a coalition of 22 public 
policy offices of national churches and agencies--Orthodox, Catholic 
and Protestant--working to realize the vision of a region where two 
viable states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure 
and recognized borders; the Alliance for Middle East Peace, which is an 
alliance of 57 NGOs that are promoting people-to-people coexistence, 
cooperation and reconciliation between Israelis, Palestinians, Arabs, 
and Jews in the Middle East; the Israel Policy Forum, which is an 
independent, nonpartisan organization advocating for sustained 
American, diplomatic efforts to end the conflict between Israel and her 
neighbors and to actively promote the two-state solution to the 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and the Middle East Policy Advisory 
Committee, which is a coalition of organizations that my congressional 
district formed to bring a just peace between Palestinians and 
  Mr. Speaker, in a region that has suffered so much loss and seemingly 
interminable conflict, these efforts are critically important in 
addressing the daily struggles and challenges faced by Israelis and 
  Sixty years ago, the great Senator Hubert Humphrey said that people 
are the issue of the 20th century. I might add now the well-being of 
people is the critical issue of the 21st century, and peace is needed 
for people to flourish.
  As the great theologian Saint Augustine reminds us, peace is the 
necessary condition in which people can be free to work out in their 
private destiny.
  That's why it's fitting and proper to recognize, as my resolution 
does, the efforts of Israeli and Palestinian individuals and of 
nongovernmental organizations that have been working, really, for 
decades to build bridges between the two peoples--to address 
humanitarian concerns and to further the cause of peace.
  Although the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has cost too many innocent 
lives and though it continues to bring terrible sufferance to both 
peoples, we can all be thankful that there are many nongovernmental 
organizations comprised of men and women of goodwill, working to build 
schools and hospitals, to foster cultural exchanges, to increase 
commercial ties, economic development, and to promote interreligious 
dialogue and understanding.
  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is currently at a critical juncture. 
Sustained progress toward peace depends on the commitment of 
individuals and of organizations that choose dialogue, friendship and 
  So this amendment recognizes the efforts of those unsung heroes and 
sheroes, and it encourages them to continue their important work.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Cohen). The time of the gentlewoman has 
  Mr. BERMAN. I yield the gentlelady an additional 30 seconds.
  Ms. LEE. It also salutes them for their commitment to nonviolence, to 
the recognition of Israel's right to exist and to their dedication to 
achieve a two-state solution.
  I would like to thank our staff, Mr. Berman. I would like to thank 
Alan Makovsky and Matthew Zweig of the staff of the Foreign Affairs 
Committee, and I would also like to thank Gregory Berry and Scott Exner 
on my staff.
  This is the spirit in which I hope we can move forward in terms of 
nongovernmental peace builders and move

[[Page H8654]]

toward achieving a just and lasting peace. Let's be cognizant of the 
fact today that peace is possible.
  Thank you, Mr. Berman. Thank you, Ms. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. I thank 
the committee for the resolution.

                                      The Rebuilding Alliance,

                                Palo Alto, CA, September 23, 2008.
       Dear Representative, I am very proud to support H. Res 
     1369, a positive and constructive resolution to advance the 
     cause of peace and justice in Israel and Palestine and I urge 
     you to vote for it. I am really proud that Representative Lee 
     was willing to work with us at the Rebuilding Alliance and 
     the Middle East Policy Advisory Committee to bring this 
     resolution to the floor.
       At its heart, H. Res. 1369 recognizes those people--
     Israelis and Palestinians-- who continue to pursue peace and 
     justice with every breath they take, despite their own 
     overwhelming personal losses. These are the people who make a 
     difference in their communities, and it is to them we offer 
     encouragement. Let me tell you about some of them:
       I want Congress to care about the peacemakers in the 
     Village of Al Aqabah and all those who seek to help them:
       Last week, Mayor Haj Sami Sadik came, in his wheelchair, to 
     Washington DC to meet with Congressional and Senate staff. He 
     is the mayor of the Palestinian West Bank Village of Al 
     Aqabah and he came to ask your help to save his kindergarten 
     and village from demolition. Israeli Architect Shmuel Groag, 
     a founder of BIMKOM: Planners for Planning Rights, joined 
     him, along with me, American Donna Baranski-Walker, executive 
     director of the Rebuilding Alliance, the SF Bay Area 
     nonprofit that helped the village build their kindergarten 
     and brought them here to ask Americans to help save it.
       I care about Al Aqabah. I care about their kindergarten 
     with 130 students. The village holds full title to its land, 
     without question--and they even won an earlier case before 
     the Israeli High Court of Justice to remove the Israeli 
     Army's training camp from the village gates. As they were 
     rebuilding their kindergarten, the Israeli Army issued 
     demolition orders against the kindergarten, the medical 
     center, the mosque, and nearly all the homes in the village. 
     The village held to their belief that justice will prevail as 
     Mayor Haj Sami Sadik again petitioned the Israeli High Court 
     of Justice to recognize their village's right to exist. Now 
     he filed the village's own master plan with the Israeli 
     Army's Civil Authority and asks the world's help to see the 
     village's plan approved, and to help his village thrive.
       I care about the Rachel Corrie Charity in Rafah, Gaza, 
     holding their soccer tournament on the land where 2200 
     Palestinian homes once stood, as a way to build community and 
     goodwill near a very traumatized refugee camp. The Rebuilding 
     Alliance brought one of the founders of this group, Khaled 
     Nasrallah, to the U.S., joining Cindy and Craig Corrie, 
     parents of the late American Rachel Corrie, in a six-state 
     speaking tour three years ago. The Rachel Corrie Charity is 
     being sponsored by the Gaza Community Mental Health 
     Organization, a Palestinian non-governmental organization 
     that deeply opposes violence and is itself an outspoken 
     advocate of freedom, fairness, and democracy--and many 
     congressional staff met with one of the founders of Gaza 
     Community Mental Health Programme, Mr. Husam El Nounou, along 
     with Rebuilding Alliance board member from Jerusalem, Rabbi 
     Jeremy Milgrom, helping Mr. El Nounou return home when the 
     Gaza's borders were first blockaded in 2006.
       I care about the Free Gaza Movement and the Americans, 
     Internationals, Israelis, and Palestinians who worked 
     together to steer their boats through international waters to 
     break the siege of Gaza last month. My friend and 
     Representative Lee's constituent, Paul Larudee, was on one of 
     those boats. It is important to recognize their nonviolent 
     activism and urge an end to the collective punishment of 1.4 
     million people in Gaza and speak out against using blockades 
     and siege as tools of diplomacy.
       I care about the Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers who 
     are part of a group called Combatants for Peace. These are 
     Israeli former soldiers and Palestinians who have been in 
     Israeli jails who now pledge not to use violence, but instead 
     to work together for peace and justice. Their Palestinian 
     cofounder, Bassam Aramin, lost his daughter Abir to a 
     soldier's rubber coated bullet. Their Israeli cofounder, Elik 
     Elhanan, lost his sister when a suicide bomber detonated. 
     Together they and 500 more like them, choose peace. 
     Combatants for Peace has launched the Abir's Garden Project 
     to build playgrounds at Palestinian schools in memory of Abir 
       These are but four groups working to bring about a real 
     peace in Israel and Palestine. I look forward to inviting all 
     the peacemakers in each congressional district to forums with 
     their Representatives to describe their work for peace in 
     Israel and Palestine. Honorable Representatives, I hope each 
     of you will send letters of encouragement to those 
     Peacemakers in Israel and Palestine who they support.
       H.Res 1369 moves beyond condemnation to begin a process of 
     recognition and encouragement.
       I believe that this form of recognition can open doors and 
     I urge your support. To the peacemakers, may you know that 
     your work makes a difference. May you continue your efforts 
     and may the Congress of the United States join you to help 
     you realize your goals. To the honorable members of the U.S. 
     House of Representatives, I urge you to vote for H.Res. 1369 
     and recognize these and many more peacemakers in Israel and 
     Palestine. Please use your influence to keep them safe, help 
     them achieve their goals, and press for a negotiated peace 
     agreement between Israel and Palestine that is viable and 
     fair to all.
                                            Donna Baranski-Walker,
     Executive Director of the Rebuilding Alliance.

                                                      Churches for

                                            Middle East Peace,

                               Washington, DC, September 23, 2008.
     Attn: Foreign Affairs Legislative Aide.
       Dear Representative: Churches for Middle East Peace, a 
     coalition of 22 Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant national 
     church bodies, urges all Members of the House to support H. 
     Res. 1369, recognizing nongovernmental organizations working 
     to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and 
     Palestinians. This resolution was unanimously approved by the 
     House Committee on Foreign Affairs in July and is scheduled 
     to be considered under suspension of the rules today.
       Passage of H. Res. 1369 would send a strong message of 
     Congressional support for efforts to further the cause of 
     Middle East peace. At this critical time, when progress on 
     the political process is uncertain, this resolution affirms 
     the important role that civil society plays in laying the 
     groundwork for peace. It provides hope and encouragement to 
     the many Israelis and Palestinians who have long worked to 
     foster peace and reconciliation, promote human rights, 
     democracy and nonviolence, and address humanitarian concerns. 
     In our frequent visits to Israel and the Palestinian 
     Territories, and through our long-standing relationships with 
     partner churches and their relief and development agencies, 
     we know well the fruits of their good works. We believe the 
     commitment of these dedicated individuals and organizations, 
     together with robust U.S. diplomacy and the commitment of 
     Israeli and Palestinian leaders, can finally help realize the 
     vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by 
     side in peace and security.
       We ask today for your support of H. Res. 1369 and look 
     forward to continued work with the U.S. Congress to finally 
     achieve peace in the Holy Land.
       Bishop Wayne Burkette, President, Southern Province, The 
     Moravian Church in America.
       James Fine, Legislative Secretary for Foreign Policy, 
     Friends Committee on National Legislation.
       Catherine Gordon, Representative for International Issues, 
     Washington Office, Presbyterian Church, USA.
       Dr. Duncan Hanson, The Reformed Church in America, 
     Supervisor for Europe and the Middle East.
       Mark Harrison, Director, Peace with Justice Program, 
     General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church.
       Aura Kanegis, Director, Public Policy and Washington 
     Office, American Friends Service Committee.
       Rev. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary, National Council 
     of Churches USA.
       Rev. Jim Kofski, MM, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns.
       Peter Makari, Middle East and Europe Global Ministries, 
     United Church of Christ and Christian Church, Disciples of 
       Rev. John L. McCullough, Executive Director and CEO, Church 
     World Service.
       T. Michael McNulty, SJ, Justice and Peace Director, 
     Conference of Major Superiors of Men, CMSM.
       The Very Rev. George Rados, Representative, Antiochian 
     Christian Orthodox Archdiocese of North American.
       Marilyn Rouvelas, Representative, Greek Orthodox 
     Archdiocese of America.
       Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach, Director, Washington Office, 
     Mennonite Central Committee US.
       Maureen Shea, Director, Office of Government Relation, The 
     Episcopal Church.
       Russell Testa, Director, JPIC, Franciscan Friars, OFM.
       Rev. Susan P. Wilder, Director for Middle East Policy, 
     Washington Office, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

  Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Speaker, a sincere thank you to Representative 
Barbara Lee. In this Congress, there is no greater voice for peace than 
Congresswoman Lee.
  I rise today in strong support of this Resolution recognizing non-
governmental organizations working to help bring a just and lasting 
peace to Israelis and Palestinians.
  Peace will not be brought about by governments and presidents. Peace 
will only be achieved when people come together to support a common 
goal--security and prosperity for all.
  More than any conference or summit, the work of local and 
international NGOs have brought the region closer to a non-violent 
resolution to the ongoing crisis. Their work is invaluable.
  From student exchanges to high-level reconciliation programs, NGOs 
are irreplaceable in the peace process.
  I applaud this Resolution's commitment to peace and nonviolence and 
urge my colleagues' support today.

[[Page H8655]]

  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise is strong support of H. 
Res. 1369, Recognizing nongovernmental organizations working to bring 
just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, which I am a 
cosponsor of. This bill was introduced by my distinguished colleague 
from California Congresswoman Barbara Lee. This important legislation 
encourages countries in the Middle East to find a solution that will 
ensure long lasting stability, prosperity, and self-sufficiency in 
their region and affirms the importance of nongovernmental 
organizations to this process.


  For decades, the United States and Israel have maintained strong 
bilateral relations based on a number of factors, including strong 
domestic U.S. support for Israel; shared strategic goals in the Middle 
East; shared democratic values; and historic ties dating back to U.S. 
support of the creation of Israel in 1948. U.S. economic and military 
aid has been a major component in cementing and reinforcing these ties. 
Although there have been occasional differences over Israel's 
settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and Israeli arms sales to 
China, successive administrations and many lawmakers have long 
considered Israel to be a reliable partner in the region, and U.S. aid 
packages for Israel have reflected this sentiment.
  However, the elongated years of fighting between Israel and Palestine 
are indirectly detrimental to the position of our country in the Middle 
East. The most beneficial solution for the United States, Israel, and 
Palestine is lasting peace in the holy regions, and as the Congress of 
the United States we must recognize that nongovernmental organizations 
can facilitate this process and aid every country involved. The 
stability of the Middle Eastern region is important the United States, 
and this resolution will reaffirm our commitment to supporting any 
steps towards peace in the Israel and Palestine.

                          PREVIOUS LEGISLATION

  Earlier this year, I supported H. Con. Res. 322, recognizing the 60th 
anniversary of the founding of the modern State of Israel and 
reaffirming the bonds of close friendship and cooperation between the 
United States and Israel. I have supported Israel in the past, and the 
national interest of Israel is in the national interest of the United 
States. The best outcome for the country of Israel is a peace 
resolution that will quell the fighting, encourage peace, and allow the 
country a chance to recover from years of hostile encounters.
  If the best way to facilitate and encourage peace between Israel and 
Palestine is to offer our support of the involvement of nongovernmental 
organizations, then I strongly support H. Res. 1369, and I encourage my 
colleagues to do the same. We must do what we can to support peace 
negotiations in the Middle East and support the national interest of 
  Mr. SIRES. Mr. Speaker, today, I rise in support of House Resolution 
1369, which recognizes the work of nongovernmental organizations in 
helping to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It is through 
the tireless efforts of so many dedicated and talented individuals on 
the ground in the region that we have been able to see progress. 
Nongovernmental organizations have worked for years at a grassroots 
level to build relationships between Israelis and Palestinians; 
neighbor to neighbor. These organizations have a true commitment to 
peace and to coexistence. The relationships they nurtured have helped 
to build bridges within these communities that I hope will sustain a 
lasting peace in the region.
  Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, 
and I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from California (Mr. Berman) that the House suspend the rules 
and agree to the resolution, H. Res. 1369.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the resolution was agreed to.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.