The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the largest mainstream Orthodox Jewish organization with nearly 1,000 synagogues nationwide, today praised the United States House of Representatives for passing H.R. 1175, a bill introduced by Congressman Tom Lantos (D CA) and Congressman Benjamin Gilman (R NY) which highlights action on the missing Israeli soldiers. This bill directs the Department of State to raise the issue of missing Israeli soldiers Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz, and Tzvi Feldman with officials of Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, and other relevant parties in the Middle East in an effort to locate and secure the return of these soldiers.
Betty Ehrenberg, Director of International and Communal Affairs, said, “We praise Congressmen Lantos and Gilman for their dedication and devotion to making sure that our government will make the issues of the Israeli MIA’s one of high priority. They have showed time and time again that they understand the urgency of this human rights issue that has been allowed to languish for seventeen years. The fact that the State Department will increase its assistance and cooperation in facilitating the release of these missing soldiers is an important step in the battle that Israel and the families of the MIAs have been waging for so long.”
“Zachary Baumel, an American citizen, along with Yehuda Katz and Tzvi Feldman, have been missing in action since 1982 after the battle of Sultan Yakub. Syria, which, according to the Geneva Convention, is responsible for their welfare, has time and time again refused to divulge any information as to their whereabouts or condition. This legislative measure will help facilitate the resolution of this urgent human rights question as soon as possible. It is unacceptable that Israeli MIAs are being held for political ransom while simultaneously peace talks are being conducted. The release of these MIAs would be an important confidence building measure that would show that Israel’s negotiating partners indeed are earnest in their commitment to the peace process.”
“We urge President Clinton to sign H.R. 1175, passed last summer in the Senate, and today by the House, into law as soon as possible in order to bring an important element of strength and trust to the building of peace. The excellent example set forth by the United States House of Representatives should serve as a signal to all world leaders and international bodies to help in the effort to return these missing soldiers.”