Mr. WEINER. Mr. Speaker - I rise today to mark the 25th birthday of Israeli MIA Guy Hever. This is the fifth consecutive year that the Hever family has marked this occasion since Guy disappeared after leaving his base in the Golan in August 1997. While Israeli authorities have been unable to unearth any substantive clue as to Guy's fate, there is growing suspicion that the answers lie in Syria. The Syrians to date, have refused to answer any questions on the topic.
Syria's reticence in this matter comes as no surprise. Over the past twenty years Syrian intransigence has obstructed the efforts of the international community to resolve the cases of both Arabs and Jews who have been held captive in Syria and in Lebanon under Syrian control. In particular, American efforts to secure the release of American citizen, and my former constituent, Zachary Baumel, have been repeatedly stymied by Damascus since his capture in a battle with Syrian forces in 1982.
The Hevers and the other MIA families have not given up hope that their loved ones will come home alive, nor should they. Given Syria's record of holding prisoners incommunicado for as long as twenty years before releasing them, it is not at all inconceivable that live Israelis are being held under Syrian tutelage.
Mr. Speaker, our government should be far more aggressive in demanding the release of Israel's missing men. Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East, is our closest ally in that region. In 1991, when Americans were held hostage in Lebanon, Israel went to extraordinary lengths to help secure the release of those hostages. As Syria and others in the region who have benefited from American aid and military assistance equivocate as to whether to assist America in its war on international terror, Israel has always been by our side. Israel's steadfast reliability as an ally should not be forgotten.
The time has come Mr. Speaker, to strike a blow at the hostage industry that Syria and its terrorist proxies have utilized so effectively against Israel and the West over the past twenty years. The events of September 11th have made it abundantly clear to Americans that yesterday's terror in Israel will become tomorrow's tragedy in America - unless we act. And if we allow Syria or other states to remain unaccountable for holding Israeli hostages, we are simply inviting more hostage taking in the Middle East and throughout the world. We cannot be complacent -- if Elchanan Tannenbaum, an Israeli taken hostage by Hizbullah in October 2000, can be abducted from Europe, so can any American citizen. If Guy Hever, who was reportedly last seen near the Syrian border, can disappear off the face of the earth without a trace, so can any American traveling in the Middle East. Unless we act more forcefully, Zachary Baumel will not be the last American hostage to be held in Lebanon or Syria, and in the aftermath of September 11th, we will not be able to claim that it could not be foreseen.
Mr. Speaker, in 1999 I cosponsored HR 1175 - A Bill to Locate and Secure the Release of Zachary Baumel an American Citizen and other Israeli Soldiers Missing in Action. The bill was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton. But not enough has been done to ensure compliance with the legislation. HR 1175 is the law and it must be upheld. This June, as Syria assumes the rotating Presidency of the United Nations Security Council and Zachary Baumel marks the twentieth anniversary of his capture, I urge the President to stringently apply the provisions of HR 1175, which is now Public Law 106?89. I also call on my colleagues to support the Syrian Accountability Act, which will force Syria to end its role in the taking and holding of hostages. And I call on the leadership of this House to bring this bill to a vote.
At this time I also ask my colleagues to join me in support of Guy's parents Rina and Eitan, and Guy's twin siblings Shir and Or, who continue to turn over the world in search of information regarding Guy. Their nobility and determination during these five sleepless years of doubt and terror, should be matched by our own vigilance in enacting initiatives to deprive terrorists and their sponsors of this most cruel weapon of kidnapping. Guy Hever - Eifo Ata? [Where are you in Hebrew]