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Pascrell Back from Israel: Tells Bergen Jewish Leaders What He Saw and Heard

Tenafly—As Hamas sent a barrage of more than 50 rockets raining down on Israel Tuesday, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. told a group of Jewish leaders at the Kaplen JCC, “This is not cable TV. This is not reality TV, this is real,” stated Congressmen Bill Pascrell. “I fully support the state of Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas, a terrorist organization bent on the destruction of Israel and the killing of Israelis that hides among civilians and profits from the propaganda of their deaths.”

He continued, “Israel has a responsibility to protect its own citizens and protect its territorial integrity by destroying the tunnels but it must live up to high standards of being a moral country and do everything in its power to prevent civilian casualties.” These are just three of Pascrell’s seven points surrounding this war.

“Hamas needs to be disarmed, period. There was no conscious effort by Israel to kill children in the U.N. school. In fact, three terrorists were on their way by bicycle to seek sanctuary there, and the rockets were intended for them.” Looking up from his written remarks, Pascrell looked around the room and said, “This is what I perceived when I was Israel. It was recommended to me not to say anything, don’t stir up the pot. But when I have something to say, I say it.”

Shortly after the Congressmen began speaking, ISIS released a video and direct message to President Obama claiming responsibility for a brutal, barbaric beheading of John Foley, a U.S. photojournalist missing in Syria for two years. When told about it, Pascrell said, “ISIS-L would like us to put boots on the ground. We will not put boots on the ground but we will certainly bomb them heavily, no question about it.”

Tensions between the White House and Netanyahu have flared recently over the recent shelling of the U.N. School and subsequent halting of U.S. Hellfire missile shipments to Israel. Pascrell says he is not defending the President but offered an explanation: “The President was ticked off, apparently he had been circumvented by someone in the Pentagon. I assure you we are all making sure these missiles will be sent to Israel, I support the replenishment. We have been there and will be there for Israel.”

Pascrell compares Qatar (a key ISIS funder) to Kuwait. “In Qatar we’ve made arrangements with a lot of bad people. We have to make decisions and deal with the enemy we don’t know before we deal with the enemy we do know.” Arab countries, he said, are not all created equal, each is different with nuanced tribal power, leveraging assets for theological dominance, with assumed and invisible alliances all breeding hate, combustible political quagmires and brutal violence faster and in more locations than ever before. “They are all on the edge of the precipice. They are all close to failing or surviving depending on where the Sunnis are and where the Shiites are,” said Pascrell.

Describing this ancient tribal power struggle that precedes Jewish/Arab relations, Pascrell addressed told Bergen County Jewish leaders, “You and I are not going to solve that religious problem. Extreme Islam is dangerous to not only Israel but to a lot of Muslims. There have been many more Muslims killed by Muslims in last eight months than Muslims who have been killed in Gaza. These are difficult times.”

Point four: “Just because Hamas hides behind civilians don’t mean Israel does not need to do all it can to prevent civilian casualties.” Pascrell continues to read his statement: “I certainly do not support the UN Human Rights person (Schabas) who will be examining this (shelling of U.N. schools), he has said he has been no friend of Israel.”

Point five: “All sides have to come together for the sakes of civilian children on both sides of the border. Point six: “I am all for Israel re-doubling its efforts toward permanent peace with moderate Palestinian voices.” Holding up three fingers, Congressman Pascrell says, “When we were in Israel I made three attempts to see Abbas. This was not reported in the paper. I never got an answer. There are many people in the Palestinian command who are now captured by Hamas.

“Abbas made the big mistake of shaking hands with these guys, Abbas made a deal. Prior to that we had elections [forced on Gaza by Geo. W. Bush and Condilleeza Rice], how did they know how the elections will turn out? We were so focused on elections—and now look what we got, these guys running the show? Hamas needs to be disarmed and that must be part of any cease-fire and if that is not one of the major one, two or three clauses, I say it won’t be worth the paper it’s written on. Otherwise this is going to keep happening again, and again, and again.”

Last and final point, “Hamas and other extremists cannot be rewarded for this war. The Palestinian people have to see that moderation is the key to a lasting peace.”

Committed to bridging the gaps, Pascrell is calling for meaningful dialogue between Jewish and Muslim Americans. “We have to see more people involved, engrossed or we will see more people killed,” Pascrell he said.

By Elyse Hansford

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