- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The House, displaying a foreign affairs solidarity lacking on issues such as Iraq, voted overwhelmingly yesterday to support Israel in its confrontation with Hezbollah guerrillas.

The resolution, which was passed on a 410-8 vote, also condemns enemies of the Jewish state.

House Republican leader John A. Boehner of Ohio cited Israel’s “unique relationship” with the United States as a reason for his colleagues to swiftly go on record supporting Israel in the latest flare-up of violence in the Mideast.

Little of the political divisiveness in Congress on other national security issues was evident as lawmakers embraced the Bush administration’s position.

The momentum for the resolution was so strong that it steamrolled efforts by a small group of House members who argued that Congress’ pro-Israel stance goes too far.

The nonbinding resolution is similar to one the Senate passed Tuesday. It condemns Israel’s enemies and says Syria and Iran should be held accountable for providing Hezbollah with money and missile technology used to attack Israel.

Yet, as Republican and Democratic leaders rally behind the measure in rare bipartisan fashion, a handful of lawmakers have quietly expressed reservations that the resolution was too much the result of a powerful lobbying force and attempts to court Jewish voters.

“I’m just sick in the stomach, to put it mildly,” said Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, West Virginia Democrat, who is of Lebanese descent.

Mr. Rahall joined other Arab-American lawmakers in drafting an alternative resolution that would have omitted language holding Lebanon responsible for Hezbollah’s actions and called for restraint from all sides. Mr. Rahall said that proposal was “politely swept under the rug,” a political reality he and others say reflects the influence Israel has in Congress.

Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, who co-sponsored the alternative resolution and is of Lebanese descent, agreed. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby “throws in language that AIPAC wants. That isn’t always the best thing for this body to endorse,” Mr. Issa said.

The lack of momentum for alternative proposals frustrated pro-Arab groups.

“This is the usual problem with any resolution that talks about Israel — there are a lot of closet naysayers [in Congress], but they don’t want to be a target of the lobby” of Israel, said Eugene H. Bird, president of the Council for the National Interest, a group that condemns Israel’s military campaign.

“These guys aren’t legislating. They’re politicking,” said James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute.

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