The Fair Lawn Borough Council passed a non-binding, non-partisan resolution Tuesday night supporting Israel’s right to defend itself.
Sponsored by Fair Lawn resident Sam Heller, a member of Shomrei Torah Orthodox Congregation, the resolution had been moved to the top of the council’s agenda at its working session last Tuesday.
According to Heller, the idea came to him when he was driving home from Daughters of Miriam in Clifton, where he is a volunteer. The resolution – which includes a concise history of the State of Israel and describes in detail acts of terrorism by Hamas – states that Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza to prevent Hamas from getting materials to use against Israel and other parties. It further states that only after cargoes are inspected may humanitarian aid supplies pass through to Gaza.
Citing recent events and describing what happened when Israel Defense Forces soldiers tried to board the sixth ship in the flotilla from Turkey, the conclusion of the one-page resolution read, “We therefore resolve to demonstrate our support for Israel during this crisis in its efforts to control its borders and protect its people.”
Councilman Edward J. Trawinski said that passage of the resolution would be “the proverbial no-brainer” and that once it passed, it should be sent to Sens. Lautenberg and Menendez and Rep. Steven Rothman. Trawinski, a Republican, also asked that the resolution be amended to contain a statement that President Obama be called upon “to reverse his anti-Israel stand.”
Heller insisted, however, that his intention was to create a non-partisan resolution. A compromise was proposed in which wording would be included calling upon the president to speak out in support of Israel’s right to defend itself in the face of ongoing terrorism. The proposal was accepted and included in the original resolution.
Heller later told The Jewish Standard that some of his supporters felt that the language he used was not strong enough in condemning the administration for its policies on Israel.
“But that’s not what I wanted,” he said. “I learned from NORPAC that the non-partisan approach works best. That’s why I first approached the Democratic councilman, Steven Weinstein, and asked him to introduce the resolution.” Heller is a registered Republican who left the Democratic Party to vote for Ronald Reagan.
He also approached Jeanne Baratta, a Republican, and Trawinski and told them that he sought a non-partisan statement.
“I’m really surprised it went so fast,” he said, “and I am glad it happened in a non-partisan way. My personal views are stronger than those expressed in the resolution, but that is not what this is about. I also wanted to add something about Gilad Shalit and what was really happening in Turkey, but this couldn’t become a history lesson. I wanted to keep it short and sweet, so people would accept it.”
Asked if he was worried that anti-Israel demonstrators might show up at the council meeting to create an incident, Heller said he was very careful in sending out his information.
“I am an advocate for Israel trying to win the PR war for Israel. I count this as one for the good guys. Yes, it took some political skill, but a win is a win. That is how I see it.”