Blunt backs Israel


Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, stating that he was taking “an unusual action on a foreign policy matter,” traveled to the Kopolow Building Monday to officially issue a proclamation condemning terrorist acts of aggression against the people of Israel and expressed support for “Israel’s right of self-defense.”

Blunt met with leaders of Jewish organizations and congregations to discuss the background of the resolution, and then responded to questions before holding a news conference.


“All nations have a fundamental right to defend their sovereignty when it is under attack,” Blunt said. “Governments have a right and obligation to defend its citizens from terrorists.”

The proclamation notes that Israel fully complied with United Nations Security Council Resolution 425 withdrawing from Lebanon in 2000, and also withdrew from the Gaza Strip in August 2005.

“The world has watched as Israel continues to be threatened by a murderous ideology with territorial ambitions,” Blunt said.

Blunt said that “the proclamation reiterates Missouri’s support for Israel and its right to self-defense and the right to take appropriate steps to deter aggression by terrorist groups and their state sponsors.”

Stressing the many years of bipartisan support for the State of Israel, Blunt recalled, “a great Missourian, President Harry S. Truman was also a great friend of Israel who recognized the Jewish State immediately after it was proclaimed. I believe that Missourians continue to strongly support the State of Israel and its right to defend itself. Israel should not be asked to stand passively by while it is attacked by groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, which are supported by radical regimes in Iran and Syria.”

Blunt was officially welcomed by Dr. Heschel Raskas, president of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. “The United States is Israel’s most important and reliable friend,” Raskas said. “We are so grateful for the administration’s staunch support and for our country’s aid and efforts on behalf of Israel. Therefore we are deeply appreciative of the governor’s presence here today and for his friendship and support of the State and people of Israel. It’s one more indication of the unbreakable bond of friendship between Israel and the United States.”

Interviewed after the event, various dignitaries spoke about the meaning of the governor’s visit. Barry Rosenberg, Federation executive vice president, said that another example of “that enduring friendship” is support from the Jewish community. “We have to date raised nearly $2 million of the $2.5 million Israel Emergency Campaign in St. Louis. The people of Israel have suffered terribly and financial support is the most important way American Jews can help.”

Terry Bloomberg, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis, welcomed the governor’s visit and the proclamation of support for the State of Israel. “It is appropriate that the governor recalled the historic role that President Harry Truman played in recognizing and supporting Israel, and today’s event builds upon that foundation of support.”

Batya Abramson Goldstein, executive director of the JCRC asked the governor if the message of support and provision of information about the situation could “be extended to other parts of the state of Missouri.” Gov. Blunt said he would welcome such efforts either through the JCRC and the Governor’s Office, or in coordination with the recently created Missouri Commission on the Holocaust.

Karen Aroesty, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of Missouri and Southern Illinois, said “we would welcome the opportunity to work within the commission and with the governor and state legislature on this and related activities.”

David Winton, the consultant for the Jewish Federation in Jefferson City for the past 15 years, also welcomed the governor’s visit, and described the issuance of a proclamation on a foreign policy issue, “extraordinary and unprecedented.” Pointing out that the governor and legislators have supported the Federation-sponsored Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC) locally, Winton said, “people who are vulnerable both locally among our aging population and among our fellow Jews in Israel who have been under attack, need all the support we can muster. I commend the governor for having the courage to do just that in support of programs like NORC and Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Bill Miller, Jewish Federation vice president of campaign, said in a press release issued before the event, “One hundred percent of all donations go directly to Israel for humanitarian aid to keep children safe and care for those with special needs. Now, we must focus our attention on healing the wounded — physically and mentally — and help Israel rebuild their cities, their schools, businesses and their lives.”

Rabbi Joshua Taub of Temple Emanuel expressed “gratitude to the governor for this very welcome and timely support for Israel and the Jewish community at a very stressful and challenging time.”