- The Washington Times - Monday, May 10, 2004

Israel gives praise

Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon wanted his Christian guests at an Israeli Embassy reception to know how much his country is thankful for their support and prayers.

“No words or speeches can express the appreciation of all Israelis for all that you do — for the joy, the comfort, the strength and the hope through your prayers and advocacy,” he told 220 guests at the third annual Israel Solidarity Event last week.

He urged the Christian leaders to visit Israel to demonstrate their support for the Jewish state, which is under daily threat from Arab terrorists.

“I encourage you to take a pilgrimage to Israel — walk the streets and breathe the air that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus once did,” the ambassador said.

“Touring Israel is not only a profoundly spiritual experience and tremendous blessing, but it also sends an encouraging message to the Israeli people, reassuring them that they are not alone in their struggle for survival and peace.”

The State Department on April 28 urged Americans to defer travel to Israel because of security concerns after Israel’s killing of a top Hamas leader earlier that month.

Mr. Ayalon conceded that Israel is a dangerous place, but insisted Israelis will defeat terrorism.

“Israel has faced a daily onslaught of terrorism against our people by murderers whose wish is to kill as many Jews as possible and destroy our nation and the Holy Land,” he said.

His guests included Gary Bauer, president of American Values; Richard Land of the Religious Liberty Commission; George Mamo of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews; radio talk-show host Janet Parshall; and Francis Wright, president of the National Religious Broadcasters.

Prison-abuse crisis

The abuse of Iraqi prisoners is a crisis and embarrassment for the Bush administration, the U.S. ambassador to NATO said yesterday.

Ambassador Nicholas Burns told the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin that President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld are aware of the damage done to the reputation of the United States by the publication of photos of naked Iraqi prisoners and smiling U.S. military guards.

“This is a great crisis for the government in our country. It is an embarrassment for our country,” he said.

Happy day in Berlin

Dan Coats, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, cheered when he announced a target date for the beginning of construction on a new American Embassy in Berlin.

“This is a happy day for us and a long-awaited day. This has been a difficult process,” he told the Associated Press last week.

Mr. Coats said construction on the new diplomatic mission next to the historic Brandenburg Gate will begin in November and be completed in the spring of 2008. He announced the construction date after years of planning and disputes with Berlin city authorities, who initially objected to proposals to redirect traffic to accommodate the embassy’s security needs.

The United States broke ground in October 2003, but construction was delayed over funding and redesign issues.

The embassy will have a modern limestone facade for architectural harmony with other buildings in the Pariser Platz square, close to the embassies of Britain, France and Russia. Germany’s Holocaust memorial museum will be built across the street from the U.S. Embassy.

Mr. Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana, said Washington needed a secure building, but rejected a proposal to build the embassy in a Berlin suburb.

“We were very conscious [that] we wanted to build something that did not look like a fortress,” he said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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