Senate Floor Statement by U.S. Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla)
March 4, 2002
In a speech before the Senate this week, Senator James
Inhofe stood against world opinion and offered seven reasons why Israel
alone is entitled to possess the Holy Land.
CBN.com - I was interested the other day when I heard
that the de facto ruler, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah, made a statement
which was received by many in this country as if it were a statement of
fact, as if it were something new, a concept for peace in the Middle East
that no one had ever heard of before. I was kind of shocked that it was
so well received by many people who had been down this road before.
I suggest to you that what Crown Prince Abdullah talked
about a few days ago was not new at all. He talked about the fact that
under the Abdullah plan, Arabs would normalize relations with Israel in
exchange for the Jewish state surrendering the territory it received after
the 1976 Six-Day War as if that were something new. He went on to talk
about other land that had been acquired and had been taken by Israel.
I remember so well on December 4 when we covered all of
this and the fact that there isn't anything new about the prospect of giving
up land that is rightfully Israel's land in order to have peace.
When it gets right down to it, the land doesn't make that
much difference because Yasser Arafat and others don't
recognize Israel's right to any of the land. They
do not recognize Israel's right to exist.
I will discuss seven reasons, which I mentioned once before,
why Israel is entitled to the land they have and that it should not be
a part of the peace process.
If this is something that Israel wants to do, it is their
business to do it. But anyone who has tried to put the pressure on Israel
to do this is wrong.
We are going to be hit by skeptics who are going to say
we will be attacked because of our support for Israel,
and if we get out of the Middle East " that is
us " all the problems will go away. That is just not true. If we withdraw, all of these problems will again come to
I have some observations to make about that. But I would
like to reemphasize once again the seven reasons that
Israel has the right to their land. The first reason
is that Israel has the right to the land because of all
of the archeological evidence. That is reason, No. 1. All the archeological evidence supports it.
Every time there is a dig in Israel, it does nothing but
support the fact that Israelis have had a presence
there for 3,000 years. They have been there for a
long time. The coins, the cities, the pottery, the culture--there
are other people, groups that are there, but there is no mistaking
the fact that Israelis have been present in that land for 3,000
It predates any claims that other peoples in the regions
may have. The ancient Philistines are extinct. Many
other ancient peoples are extinct. They do not have
the unbroken line to this date that the Israelis have.
Even the Egyptians of today are not racial Egyptians of
2,000, 3,000 years ago. They are primarily an Arab
people. The land is called Egypt, but they are not
the same racial and ethnic stock as the old Egyptians
of the ancient world. The first Israelis are in fact descended from the original Israelites. The first proof, then, is the archeology.
The second proof of Israel's right to the land is the
historic right. History supports it totally and completely.
We know there has been an Israel up until the time
of the Roman Empire. The Romans conquered the land. Israel
had no homeland, although Jews were allowed to live there. They were
driven from the land in two dispersions: One was in 70 A,.D.
and the other was in 135 A.D. But there was always
a Jewish presence in the land.
The Turks, who took over about 700 years ago and ruled
the land up until about World War I, had control.
Then the land was conquered by the British. The Turks
entered World War I on the side of Germany. The British knew
they had to do something to punish Turkey, and also to break up that
empire that was going to be a part of the whole effort of
Germany in World War I. So the British sent troops
against the Turks in the Holy Land.
One of the generals who was leading the British armies
was a man named Allenby. Allenby was a Bible-believing
Christian. He carried a Bible with him everywhere
he went and he knew the significance of Jerusalem.
The night before the attack against Jerusalem to drive
out the Turks, Allenby prayed that God would allow
him to capture the city without doing damage to the
That day, Allenby sent World War I biplanes over the city
of Jerusalem to do a reconnaissance mission. You have
to understand that the Turks had at that time never
seen an airplane. So there they were, flying around.
They looked in the sky and saw these fascinating inventions and did
not know what they were, and they were terrified by them.
Then they were told they were going to be opposed
by a man named Allenby the next day, which means,
in their language, ``man sent from God'' or ``prophet from God.'' They dared not fight against a prophet from God, so the
next morning, when Allenby went to take Jerusalem,
he went in and captured it without firing a single
The British Government was grateful to Jewish people around
the world, particularly to one Jewish chemist who
helped them manufacture niter. Niter is an ingredient
that was used in nitroglycerin which was sent over from
the New World. But they did not have a way of getting it to England.
The German U-boats were shooting on the boats, so most of
the niter they were trying to import to make nitroglycerin
was at the bottom of the ocean. But a man named Weitzman,
a Jewish chemist, discovered a way to make it from materials
that existed in England. As a result, they were able to continue
The British at that time said they were going to give
the Jewish people a homeland. That is all a part of
history. It is all written down in history. They were
gratified that the Jewish people, the bankers, came through
and helped finance the war.
The homeland that Britain said it would set aside consisted
of all of what is now Israel and all of what was then
the nation of Jordan--the whole thing. That was what
Britain promised to give the Jews in 1917.
In the beginning, there was some Arab support for this
action. There was not a huge Arab population in the
land at that time, and there is a reason for that.
The land was not able to sustain a large population of people.
It just did not have the development it needed to handle those people, and the land was not really wanted by anybody. Nobody
really wanted this land. It was considered to be worthless
I want the Presiding Officer to hear what Mark Twain said.
And, of course, you may have read ``Huckleberry Finn''
and ``Tom Sawyer.'' Mark Twain--Samuel Clemens--took
a tour of Palestine in 1867. This is how he described
that land. We are talking about Israel now. He said:
A desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given
over wholly to weeds. A silent, mournful expanse.
We never saw a human being on the whole route. There
was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and
the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted
Where was this great Palestinian nation? It did not exist.
It was not there. Palestinians were not there. Palestine
was a region named by the Romans, but at that time
it was under the control of Turkey, and there was
no large mass of people there because the land would not support them.
This is the report that the Palestinian Royal Commission,
created by the British, made. It quotes an account of the
conditions on the coastal plain along the Mediterranean
Sea in 1913. This is the Palestinian Royal Commission.
The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer
track, suitable for transport by camels or carts.
No orange groves, orchards or vineyards were to be
seen until one reached the Yavnev village. Houses were mud.
Schools did not exist. The western part toward the sea was almost a
desert. The villages in this area were few and thinly populated.
Many villages were deserted by their inhabitants.
That was 1913.
The French author Voltaire described Palestine as ``a
hopeless, dreary place.''
In short, under the Turks the land suffered from neglect
and low population. That is a historic fact. The nation
became populated by both Jews and Arabs because the
land came to prosper when Jews came back and began
to reclaim it. Historically, they began to reclaim it. If there had
never been any archaeological evidence to support the rights
of the Israelis to the territory, it is also important
to recognize that other nations in the area have no
longstanding claim to the country either.
Did you know that Saudi Arabia was not created until 1913,
Lebanon until 1920? Iraq did not exist as a nation until
1932, Syria until 1941; the borders of Jordan were
established in 1946 and Kuwait in 1961. Any of these
nations that would say Israel is only a recent arrival would have
to deny their own rights as recent arrivals as well. They
did not exist as countries. They were all under the
control of the Turks.
Historically, Israel gained its independence in 1948.
The third reason that land belongs to Israel is the practical
value of the Israelis being there. Israel today is a modern
marvel of agriculture. Israel is able to bring more
food out of a desert environment than any other country
in the world. The Arab nations ought to make Israel their
friend and import technology from Israel that would allow all the
Middle East, not just Israel, to become an exporter of food.
Israel has unarguable success in its agriculture.
The fourth reason I believe Israel has the right to the
land is on the grounds of humanitarian concern. You
see, there were 6 million Jews slaughtered in Europe
in World War II. The persecution against the Jews had been
very strong in Russia since the advent of communism. It was against
them even before then under the Czars.
These people have a right to their homeland. If we are
not going to allow them a homeland in the Middle East,
then where? What other nation on Earth is going to
cede territory, is going to give up land?
They are not asking for a great deal. The whole nation
of Israel would fit into my home State of Oklahoma
seven times. It would fit into the Presiding Officer's
State of Georgia seven times. They are not asking for a great
deal. The whole nation of Israel is very small. It is a nation that,
up until the time that claims started coming in, was not
desired by anybody.
The fifth reason Israel ought to have their land is that
she is a strategic ally of the United States. Whether
we realize it or not, Israel is a detriment, an impediment,
to certain groups hostile to democracies and hostile
to what we believe in, hostile to that which makes us the greatest
nation in the history of the world. They have kept them from
taking complete control of the Middle East. If it
were not for Israel, they would overrun the region.
They are our strategic ally.
It is good to know we have a friend in the Middle East
on whom we can count. They vote with us in the United
Nations more than England, more than Canada, more
than France, more than Germany--more than any other country
in the world.
The sixth reason is that Israel is a roadblock to terrorism.
The war we are now facing is not against a sovereign
nation; it is against a group of terrorists who are
very fluid, moving from one country to another. They
are almost invisible. That is whom we are fighting against today.
We need every ally we can get. If we do not stop terrorism
in the Middle East, it will be on our shores. We have
said this again and again and again, and it is true.
One of the reasons I believe the spiritual door was opened
for an attack against the United States of America
is that the policy of our Government has been to ask
the Israelis, and demand it with pressure, not to retaliate
in a significant way against the terrorist strikes that have been
launched against them.
Since its independence in 1948, Israel has fought four
wars: The war in 1948 and 1949--that was the war for
independence--the war in 1956, the Sinai campaign;
the Six-Day War in 1967; and in 1973, the Yom Kippur War,
the holiest day of the year, and that was with Egypt and Syria.
You have to understand that in all four cases, Israel
was attacked. They were not the aggressor. Some people
may argue that this was not true because they went
in first in 1956, but they knew at that time that Egypt
was building a huge military to become the aggressor. Israel, in fact,
was not the aggressor and has not been the aggressor in any
of the four wars.
Also, they won all four wars against impossible odds.
They are great warriors. They consider a level playing
field being outnumbered 2 to 1.
There were 39 Scud missiles that landed on Israeli soil
during the gulf war. Our President asked Israel not
to respond. In order to have the Arab nations on board,
we asked Israel not to participate in the war.
They showed tremendous restraint and did not. Now we have
asked them to stand back and not do anything over
these last several attacks.
We have criticized them. We have criticized them in our
media. Local people in television and radio often
criticize Israel, not knowing the true facts. We need
to be informed.
I was so thrilled when I heard a reporter pose a question
to our Secretary of State, Colin Powell. He said:
Mr. Powell, the United States has advocated a policy of
restraint in the Middle East. We have discouraged Israel
from retaliation again and again and again because
we've said it leads to continued escalation--that
it escalates the violence. Are we going to follow that preaching
Mr. Powell indicated we would strike back. In other words,
we can tell Israel not to do it, but when it hits
us, we are going to do something.
But all that changed in December when the Israelis went
into the Gaza with gunships and into the West Bank
with F-16s. With the exception of last May, the Israelis
had not used F-16s since the 1967 6-Day War. And I am so
proud of them because we have to stop terrorism. It is not going to go
away. If Israel were driven into the sea tomorrow, if every
Jew in the Middle East were killed, terrorism would
not end. You know that in your heart. Terrorism would
It is not just a matter of Israel in the Middle East.
It is the heart of the very people who are perpetrating
this stuff. Should they be successful in overrunning
Israel--which they won't be--but should they be, it
would not be enough. They will never be satisfied.
No. 7, I believe very strongly that we ought to support
Israel; that it has a right to the land. This is the
most important reason: Because God said so. As I said
a minute ago, look it up in the book of Genesis. It is
right up there on the desk.
In Genesis 13:14-17, the Bible says:
The Lord said to Abram, ``Lift up now your eyes, and look
from the place where you are northward, and southward,
and eastward and westward: for all the land which
you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever.
..... Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the
breadth of it; for I will give it to thee.''
That is God talking.
The Bible says that Abram removed his tent and came and
dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and
built there an altar before the Lord. Hebron is in
the West Bank. It is at this place where God appeared to Abram
and said, ``I am giving you this land,'' " the West Bank.
This is not a political battle at all. It is a contest
over whether or not the word of God is true. The seven
reasons, I am convinced, clearly establish that Israel
has a right to the land.
Eight years ago on the lawn of the White House, Yitzhak
Rabin shook hands with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.
It was a historic occasion. It was a tragic occasion.
At that time, the official policy of the Government of
Israel began to be, "Let us appease the terrorists.
Let us begin to trade the land for peace.'' This process
continued unabated up until last year. Here in our own
Nation, at Camp David, in the summer of 2000, then Prime Minister of
Israel Ehud Barak offered the most generous concessions to
Yasser Arafat that had ever been laid on the table.
He offered him more than 90 percent of all the West Bank
territory, sovereign control of it. There were some parts
he did not want to offer, but in exchange for that
he said he would give up land in Israel proper that
the PLO had not even asked for.
And he also did the unthinkable. He even spoke of dividing
Jerusalem and allowing the Palestinians to have their capital
there in the East. Yasser Arafat stormed out of the
meeting. Why did he storm out of the meeting? Everything
he had said he wanted was offered there. It was put into his
hands. Why did he storm out of the meeting?
A couple of months later, there began to be riots, terrorism.
The riots began when now Prime Minister Ariel Sharon went
to the Temple Mount. And this was used as the thing
that lit the fire and that caused the explosion.
Did you know that Sharon did not go unannounced and that
he contacted the Islamic authorities before he went
and secured their permission and had permission to
be there? It was no surprise.
The response was very carefully calculated. They knew
the world would not pay attention to the details.
They would portray this in the Arab world as an attack
upon the holy mosque. They would portray it as an
attack upon that mosque and use it as an excuse to
riot. Over the last 8 years, during this time of the peace process, where the Israeli public has pressured its leaders to
give up land for peace because they are tired of fighting,
there has been increased terror.
In fact, it has been greater in the last 8 years than
any other time in Israel's history. Showing restraint
and giving in has not produced any kind of peace.
It is so much so that today the leftist peace movement in Israel does not exist because the people feel they were deceived.
They did offer a hand of peace, and it was not taken.
That is why the politics of Israel have changed drastically
over the past 12 months.
The Israelis have come to see that, "No matter what
we do, these people do not want to deal with us......
They want to destroy us.'' That is why even yet today
the stationery of the PLO still has upon it the map of the entire
state of Israel, not just the tiny little part they call
the West Bank that they want. They want it all.
We have to get out of this mind set that somehow you can
buy peace in the Middle East by giving little plots
of land. It has not worked before when it has been
These seven reasons show why Israel is entitled to that