Friday, March 13, 2009

NJ lawmaker to Israel: Expand aid to Gazans

by Robert Wiener, NJJN Staff Writer, March 12, 2009

A week after returning from a trip to the Middle East, NJ Congressman Rush Holt (D-Dist. 12) is calling for greater access to border crossings and humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza.

“Israel, the United States, and other interested parties should open border crossings, but not wide open,” Holt told NJ Jewish News March 9 in a telephone interview from his office on Capitol Hill.

“Obviously, opening the borders has to be done in a secure way. The crossing most suited for checking the cargo, for scanning and detecting contraband, is closed. I don’t quite understand why they shouldn’t be using the equipment they have, even to pass in the food supplies that Israel permits for humanitarian reasons.”

After visiting Gaza for half a day, Holt called for “expanded humanitarian aid and reconstruction aid. That is where I differ from the government of Israel,” he said.

“There is real hardship, but I am not sure I observed enough to describe it as a humanitarian crisis,” he added.

Describing himself as “a huge fan of Israel,” the congressman said he was not “trying to draw some sort of moral equation. I am saying reconstructive aid and expanded humanitarian aid in Gaza seems to me would be not only a humane position but a more practical approach to the ends we seek here.”

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