The US Congress forms Israel Allies Caucus

The US Congress forms Israel Allies Caucus

July 28, 2006 - ETGAR LEFKOVITS, THE JERUSALEM POST

The United States Congress on Thursday announced the establishment of an Israel Allies Caucus, meant to mobilize Christian support for Israel around the world.

The American congressional lobby, which is modeled on the Knesset's Christian Allies Caucus created two and half years ago, will debut with a membership of four Congressmen - two Republicans, Dave Weldon of Florida and Trent Franks of Arizona, and two Democrats, Eliot Engel of New York and Gene Green of Texas.

The new caucus plans to advocate Israel's right to live in peace within safe and secure borders, on the basis of shared Judeo-Christian values.

The establishment of the caucus was moved up as a sign of solidarity as Israel confronts terrorist threats from Hizbullah and Hamas.

"During the current crisis, Israel and the world need to know that the US Congress stands firm in its commitment to Israel's protection and right to defend itself against terrorism and state-sponsored terrorists," Weldon told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

He said the formation of the caucus reflected an unwavering Congressional commitment to the state of Israel, and would serve as another means to communicate with an important ally.

"Israel's fight against terrorism is the US's fight against terrorism," Engel said in a telephone interview from Washington.

Engel, who is the only Jewish member of the caucus, said it was important to garner support for Israel on a bipartisan basis among its many Christian friends in the US.

Weldon and Engel will co-chair the lobby.

A separate pro-Israel caucus has existed in the House of Representatives for decades.

The founding of the new caucus, which will serve as a forum for outreach and communication among pro-Israel Christians, comes at a time of burgeoning ties between Israel and the predominantly pro-Israel Evangelical Christian community around the world.

"I think that our basic appeal of reuniting people and especially politicians around Israel, not on a temporary cost-benefit approach, built on the most fundamental values of our civilization emanating from the Bible has proven itself," said Knesset Christian Allies Caucus founder MK Yuri Stern (Israel Beiteinu). He noted that similar parliamentary caucuses were being planned in the Philippines and in South Korea.

"This is not about religious observance or fundamentalism, it is about better understanding our identity and the things we are ready to fight for," he said.

"The civilized world's war with the Islamic terror regimes is at its root, a war of values, and this congressional sister Caucus to the Knesset's Christian Allies Caucus signals a recognition that the Judeo-Christian values America and Israel share lie at the heart of their alliance and the special relationship between them," said Knesset Christian Allies Caucus director Josh Reinstein.

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