Impressions Of Israel
Congressional trip makes Rep. Peters even more committed.
U.S. Rep. Gary Peters and Israeli President Shimon Peres in Israel
Editor's note: U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-
Bloomfield Township, took part in an
American Israel Education Fund-hosted
trip to Israel Aug. 7-16. House Majority
Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., led the trip,
which included 28 other Democratic
members of Congress. Below is an e-
mail interview the IN conducted with
Peters, a first-term congressman.
Q. What was your itinerary?
A. The majority of the trip was spent
in Jerusalem, meeting with key Israeli
dignitaries like Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres,
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, Gabi Ashkenazi,
Ehud Barak and others, as well as various
groups of Israeli citizens, to gain a deeper
perspective on Israel's security and its
relationship with the Palestinians. The
itinerary also included a trip to Golan and
to Masada and the Dead Sea.
September 24 • 2009
As a Metro Detroiter, I was proud to
point out the philanthropy of the Detroit
Jewish community when our congres-
sional delegation went to the William
Davidson Archaeological Park next to the
Western Wall and drove by a recently dedi-
cated plaza named for Max M. Fisher.
Q. What were your impres-
sions of the Israeli people's
frame of mind?
A. Israelis are rightly proud of their
achievements. Since my last trip in 2000,
the visible economic growth is truly
impressive. The nation's high-tech sector
continues to be a world leader and Israel
is home to state-of-the-art architecture
and transportation infrastructure. I am
amazed with the determination of Israelis
to beautify their country. A land with few
natural resources, Israel has made its des-
ert bloom and economy flourish.
Along with their pride and determina-
tion, Israelis are, of course, also concerned
for their safety and security. Israel faces
the hostile presence of Hamas in the
south and Hezbollah in the north. But it
is the Iranian threat that is currently front
and center for Israelis. I am a strong sup-
porter of sanctions and divestment from
Iran, and I believe we cannot definitively
rule out military options as Iran rapidly
pursues nuclear capability. We know that
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the
Iranian regime have already threatened
to wipe Israel off the map; America must
stand with Israel in the face of such vitri-
olic and noxious rhetoric.
In the face of grave threats, however,
Israelis go about their lives with hopes
and dreams similar to those of typical
Americans, and they continue to make
invaluable contributions to the world at large.
Q. In your estimation, what
were the most notable things
that Netanyahu had to say and
what was your reaction?
A. In our meeting with Prime Minister
Netanyahu, he stressed that Iran is now
only six to eight months away from hav-
ing nuclear weapons. A nuclear Iran is a
severe security threat to both Israel and
the United States and would be destabiliz-
ing to the region and disastrous for the
entire global community.
To start, stronger sanctions are needed
now I have cosponsored the Iran Sanctions
Enabling Act and the Iran Refined
Petroleum Sanctions Act. We must apply
as much pressure as possible on Iran now
This cannot wait; the threat is real.
The United States should be prepared
to use all options, diplomacy, sanctions
and divestment and, if necessary, the use
of force, to prevent Iran from obtaining
nuclear weapons. We must utilize the first
two options forcefully in the hope that the
third is never necessary, but we simply
cannot allow a radical regime such as
Impressions of Israel on page 28