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A Few Minutes with Congressman Thomas Suozzi

Omri Nahmias

Congressman Thomas Suozzi (D-NY) explains why progressives should support Israel, and discusses his bill to disarm Hezbollah

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

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C ongressman Thomas Suozzi is a first-term Democrat representing New York’s 3rd District, which covers most of Long Island’s North Shore. He comes to the job having served four terms as mayor of Glen Cove. He has a political pedigree: His father, Joseph A. Suozzi, also served as Glen Cove mayor before being appointed a justice to the New York state supreme court.

Mishpacha spoke with Congressman Suozzi last week after he introduced, together with Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R–IL),the Disarm Hezbollah Act. If enacted into law, the bill would instruct the Director of National Intelligence to produce an official National Intelligence Estimate on Hezbollah, detailing what exactly is in the terrorist group’s military arsenal and how it receives money.

How did you come up with this idea?

Well, I went to Israel this past summer. We went to the border with Lebanon. We were told how Hezbollah is putting rockets in everybody’s houses, in the mosques and schools, and are using people as civilian shields. I actually helped sponsor another bill on civilian shields, with Congressman Michael Gallagher [R–WI], last year. Everybody we’ve talked to who’s pro-Israel or pro-American, they’re all talking about how it’s common knowledge where Hezbollah locates these missiles. And I said, well, we need objective data to persuade people that this is the truth of the matter, and it’s not just propaganda. So I said, the UN should be doing it. [The UN Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL,] should be doing this as part of their mission, and they should actually be giving us the data on this. So, this is what we came up with to try to get the ball moving.

 

Can you explain how the legislation will help disarm Hezbollah?

It’s not going to disarm it right away. The first thing that’s going to happen is that the Director of National Intelligence for the United States, pursuant to this legislation, is required to produce a National Intelligence Estimate. This will detail Hezbollah’s arsenal and the supply routes it uses to get its weapons, and the way it raises money and distributes it in the territory that’s supposed to be under UNIFIL. That’s how they distribute the money — under UNIFIL. Obviously we think Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, and it’s been sanctioned by us, but we need to get hard data that tells us what their arsenal really is. Because a big part of this battle is persuading the world community that Hezbollah in Lebanon is actually conducting these heinous acts.

What is the next step, once you have enough data?

Then we have to get other countries to impose sanctions, and we have to exert pressure to try to get rid of this arsenal.

And if Hezbollah won’t voluntarily disarm itself, what do you think the US should do? Do you think it should be military involved in Syria and Lebanon?

This [whole situation] is pretty mature right now. UNIFIL was formed in 1978. And after 2006, when you had the Lebanese-Israeli battles, they were supposed to monitor the cease-fire and to try to help the Lebanese army reassert control over the area. And they were supposed to disarm Hezbollah. And that did not happen, obviously. Now, this is a problem. But we need to actually document it so we can put more pressure on the UN to do their job. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 708)

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