The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish synagogue organization, today commended the House International Relations Committee for its passage of the Syria Accountability Act by a vote of 33-2. This important bill was introduced by Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). The bill makes it clear to the regime in Damascus that it must take steps to cease and desist from its support of terrorism or suffer sanctions. Syria has long been on the State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism. The Syrian government facilitates violent attacks against Israel and its neighbors through its support of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. Syrian troops have occupied Lebanon for more than 25 years and fostered its use as a springboard for international terrorism. With a green light from Syria, Hezbollah has conducted cross-border terrorist attacks against Israel, the most recent of which took place in Haifa and claimed 19 innocent Israeli lives.
The Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 calls on Syria to stop supporting terrorism, remove its troops from Lebanon, take genuine steps towards peace with Israel, and to stop developing weapons of mass destruction and the methods with which to deliver them. If order to make Syria accountable, this bill would put an end to economic and international cooperation with Syria and downgrade diplomatic relations with its government.
The Orthodox Union believes that the passage of this bill will help send a clear message to the Syrian government that it must behave responsibly or suffer the consequences. We urge the Congress to pass this important bill. We also urge the Senate to pass the parallel bill introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rick Santorum (R-PA) as soon as possible. This would constitute an important step in the fight against global terrorism and in bringing stability to the Middle East.