Manfred and Anne Lehmann Foundation

Labor Party Critic of Israel’s Golan Policy Meets Congressman in Washington

Gen. Avigdor Kahalani Receives Letter of Support from Jesse Helms

When Gen. Avigdor Kahalani, Labor Party Knesset member and outspoken critic of the Israeli government’s Golan Heights policy, set out for a trip to the United State to alert Washington and the Jewish community to the danger of surrendering the Golan, Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin reacted angrily, proclaiming that Kahalani should not be received by anyone in Washington and that his membership in the Labor Party should prevent him from taking action against the government’s policies.

Despite Rabin’s warning, Kahalani not only made the trip last week but was a hit in Washington and elsewhere in the United States, meeting with the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Benjamin Gilman (R-N.Y., lecturing West Point Military cadets on tank strategy and receiving a letter endorsing his position on the Golan from Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In the letter, dated March 14, a copy of which was obtained by this reporter, Helms writes that he is "deeply concerned about the potential U.S. role in a peace agreement between Israel and Syria, especially plans now being discussed by the Clinton Administration to place American soldiers on the Golan and possible U.S. assistance to Syria."

In the letter, Helms states unequivocally that the United States should not persuade Israel to make concessions to Syria.

"Israeli withdrawal from the Golan in exchange for a peace treaty with Syria is a decision to be made by the people of Israel. The United States should make no attempt to provide sweeteners in order to induce Syria or Israel to make concessions. This certainly includes the Clinton Administration’s promise of U.S. troops on the Golan, which I am persuaded would be a mistake."

Helms argues that placing U.S. troops on the Golan would put them at great risk.

"Insofar as Syria is highly unlikely to abide by a peace agreement, American troops could easily be caught in the middle of renewed violence between Syria and Israel. Furthermore, our troops might become targets of terrorist attacks from Southern Lebanon, a terrorist stronghold."

Other "U.S. taxpayer funded inducements to peace" that Syria is expecting from the United States, Helms writes, are "out of the question" because :Syria is a state sponsor of terrorism and is automatically ineligible for U.S. assistance of any kind."

He concludes by affirming that "I will work to oppose any waivers of any law in order to provide assistance to Syria."

Kahalani, one of the most popular personalities in Israel, also held a press conference at Washington’s Press Club, met with the Empower America, the Republican organization, and visited Jewish groups in Boston, Miami and New York.

Kahalani is a hero of the Yom Kippur War, and his textbook on tank warfare is used by all officers at West Point. He spent an entire day at the Academy, where lectured and was hosted by a number of top U.S. generals.

He is planning on returning to the United States the beginning of April.

 

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