Senator Cancels Golan Briefing Amid Controversy over Remarks
Menu JTA Search

Senator Cancels Golan Briefing Amid Controversy over Remarks

Download PDF for this date

A key Senate opponent of stationing U.S. troops on the Golan Heights has abruptly canceled a briefing scheduled for next week because he believed that one of the speakers was too extreme.

Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Wash.) called off the breakfast session after learning that Mark Langfan, a staunch opponent of the Israeli government’s peace overtures, equated Rabin’s quest for peace with those Jews who cooperated with the Nazis.

“His views are too extreme,” a spokeswoman for the senator said of Langfan, a Manhattan real estate attorney who has been presenting topographical maps of the Golan Heights in an effort to scuttle any potential Israeli withdrawal from the strategic plateau.

“A valid discussion on this important issue would require a broader panel,” Gorton’s spokeswoman said.

Langfan was scheduled to brief senators and their staffs Tuesday morning with Frank Gaffney, the director of the Center for Security Policy.

Gaffney has led the charge on Capitol Hill to convince members of Congress to oppose a U.S. military presence on the Golan in the event of an Israeli-Syrian peace-deal.

Langfan said in an interview that Gorton’s explanation for canceling the session is “nothing more than a fig leaf.”

“I offered to withdraw and have Gaffney and anyone else give the briefing but that still wasn’t good enough,” he said.

He also asserted that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee “exerted a huge amount of pressure” to convince Gorton to cancel.

An AIPAC official denied that the pro-Israel lobby pressured Gorton.

According to Gorton’s aide, the senator changed his mind after “hearing from constituents and from members of Congress who had dealt with Mark Langfan.”

In his original invitation to fellow senators, Gorton had praised Langfan’s record and his maps.

Langfan and Gaffney have briefed members of Congress together on numerous occasions.

When asked about his relationship with Gaffney, Langfan said he donated $1,000 to Gaffney’s group last year and expects to contribute about the same this year.

In an interview, Gaffney said he could not recall whether Langfan had contributed to his organization.

“He talked about helping us,” Gaffney said, adding that he does “not remember” about the funds.

In January, Langfan distributed a flier headlined “Rabin Leads a Judenrat.”

“In 1994 the Jewish Holocaust of Israel has begun with the Judenrat of the Rabin government allowing defenseless old Jewish men to be beaten in the streets of Israel by Arab thugs and will soon end with the Rabin Judenrat herding the 5 million Jews of Israel into `Auschwitz borders,'” the flier said.

Sticking to his position, Langfan said in the interview: “I 150 percent stand by the fact that Rabin is leading a modern-day Judenrat.”

Commenting on Langfan’s comparison, Michael Berenbaum, director of research at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, said “It is intellectually ridiculous, thoroughly offensive and almost as offensive as Holocaust denial because it minimizes the predicament of the Judenrat.”

“To begin to compare the desperate situation of the Judenrat to the situation in Israel is the height of offensiveness to those who died in the Holocaust,” he said, adding that he was speaking only about the comparison with the Holocaust, not on the politics of the Golan issue.

For his part, Gaffney said he was not aware of Langfan’s comparison with the Holocaust.

“To the extent that we stay away from” the issue of Judenrat, “I wouldn’t rule out briefing with him in the future.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund