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Israel Supporters Express Regret over Fascell Decision to Quit House

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Supporters of Israel are expressing regret over Rep. Dante Fascell’s announcement Wednesday that he will not run for re-election after serving 38 years in the House of Representatives.

The 75-year-old Florida Democrat, who has been chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee since 1984, will be “sorely missed by the pro-Israel community,” said Jess Hordes, Washington representative of the Anti-Defamation League.

Thomas Dine, executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, praised Fascell for having been “in the forefront providing guidance, friendship and support for the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

“As chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Dante has led the way in providing needed aid to Israel, opposing arms sales to hostile Arab states, fighting the Arab boycott, strengthening U.S. opposition to terrorism, and serving as a persistent and invaluable voice on issues affecting our community and the welfare of the Jewish people,” Dine said.

A champion of international human rights, he also has been a strong supporter of the Soviet Jewry cause.

While pro-Israel sources spoke warmly of Fascell, they were more hesitant about his probable successor as Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), who now chairs its subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East.

Although some consider Hamilton fair in his treatment of Israel, others see him as evenhanded but more and more critical of Israel in recent years.

Concern was expressed especially over Hamilton’s chief aide on foreign affairs, Michael Van Dusen, who many consider an Arabist.

Fascell is the third Miami-area Democratic congressman to announce he is retiring from the House. The other two, both Jews, are veteran William Lehman, who suffered a stroke, and Lawrence Smith, one of the most ardent advocates for Israel in Congress.

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