TERRORISM AND COLONEL HIGGINS (Senate - August 04, 1989)

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Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, the brutal murder of Col. William Higgins must be seen clearly for what it is: Yet another act of terrorism and murder by the Hezbollah.

Our hearts are full of grief for Colonel Higgins' wife and family. And we feel--again--a sense of outrage at the perpetrators of this deed.

There must be no obscuring this act for what it is. The focus of world condemnation must be sharply fixed on the Hezbollah. Our outrage must be focused on the murderers and their allies, Iran and her fanatic agents. No one else should be blamed for it.

The atrocity against Colonel Higgins will renew our determination to act against terrorism. These terrorists, as always, will attempt to justify their crime by blaming America and Israel. One of the goals of terrorism is to blur the distinction between hostage taking and actions against hostage takers.

Some people will fall for this ploy. We have heard some cries of outrage against Israel, rather then the terrorist killers. It is indeed a strange and topsy-turvy world when Hezbollah terrorists can kidnap a U.S. citizen who is part of a U.N. force, torture and hang him--and then have some people blame others for the atrocity.

Israel took direct action against terrorist leaders such as Sheik Obeid of the Hezbollah, one of the world's main sources of terror. Surely we should understand a country which has been the victim of terrorist actions against innocent civilians directly attacking one of the sources of that terror. Surely we should understand what terrorist actions can do to a person, a family, a community.

We must nor permit the Hezbollah or any of its constituent groups blur our focus and confuse our minds. Any such actions play right into the hands of those terrorists and will encourage future terrorists.

Mr. President, the American Jewish Committee and American Jewish Congress have issued statements which forcefully make the point. I ask unanimous consent that those statements be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the statements were ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

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On Colonel Higgins

A Statement by the American Jewish Committee


New York, August 1: The following statement was issued today by Harvey Feldman, International Relations Director of the American Jewish Committee, on the murder of Colonel Higgins and Israel's seizure of Sheikh Obeid:

`As Americans, we bitterly condemn those responsible for the murder of Colonel Higgins. Our hearts go out to his wife, Major Robin Higgins, and his daughter, Christine.

`We recall that this self-styled `party of God' is precisely the group that claimed `credit' for the truck bombing that killed our Marines in Beirut in 1983 and again in 1984. They have been involved in assassinations in the Middle East and in Europe, and the destruction of airliners in flight, and the seizure of hostages and the murder of civilians in Lebanon.

`Some have been highly critical of Israel for its seizure of Sheikh Obeid, and have equated it with the `party of God' abducting Colonel Higgins. But the Marine Colonel was part of a UN peace-keeping mission, while Obeid was the commander of assassination brigades. There can be no equivalence.

`To say that international law forbids seizing killers where you find them is simply incorrect. In fact, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency personnel have several times seized drug lords on the territory of other countries, and we all recall the bombing of Libya in response to terrorist attacks on U.S. servicemen in Berlin. Israel, like other nations, has the right to take direct action against those who attack its citizens or plan terrorist acts on Israeli territory.

`Hindsight may make us wish for different outcomes, but we must be careful not to confuse the victims of terrorism with those who plan it.'


The Cost of Defending Freedom

A Statement by the American Jewish Congress


The nation is outraged and frustrated over the latest barbaric act committed by an Iranian-controlled fundamentalist terrorist group in Lebanon. It would be a cruel irony, however, if that outrage were directed, however indirectly, to Israel, the world's most frequent victim of barbarism.

Fortunately, Americans are affected only occasionally by these outrages; the people of Israel live in the very midst of this culture of violence, and must deal with it on a daily basis.

The response of free people to the tyranny and brutality of these primitives who presume to call themselves the Party of God necessarily entails risks. In this case, that risk is first and foremost to the Israelis themselves, who are engaged daily in a struggle with this so-called Party of God, and three of whose soldiers are being held and reportedly tortured by them.

The willingness to incur risks is the price exacted from those who cherish freedom and are prepared to defend it. Americans understand that truth more than most, for in our history, we have paid that price over and over again. The people of Israel must do so with desperate regularity.

Our hearts go out to the families of Col. Higgins and of the other hostages. We believe Americans would be proud if their government had the capacity to strike at and punish the likes of Sheik Obeid who kidnap and torment innocent people. There may indeed be good reasons why we have been unable to respond to these outrages thus far. But it would be a great injustice, and entirely unforgivable, if in our frustration over our current inability to deal with the barbaric behavior of the Hezbollah we were to strike out at our closest ally, beleaguered Israel, for seeking to do that which we wish we would do ourselves.