Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye, who fought German soldiers in WW II and later thought about converting to Judaism, led a three-Senator delegation to Israel Sunday, starting off with a meeting with President Shimon Peres.
Sen. Inouye, chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, is being accompanied by the committee vice chairman, Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, and senior committee member Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat. They arrived in Israel after a stop in Tunisia.
President Peres thanked Sen. Inouye for his “contributions to strengthen the security of Israel” and added, “The United States has stood by us for years, and this true friendship is unquestioned.”
The senators asked him for his views on Iran, the Middle East in general and the Palestinian Authority specifically. The President said that Iran is not a “problem” but instead is a "threat to peace in the Middle East and the entire world” because of its nuclear ambitions. He continued to promote his theme for direct "negotiations" between Israel and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Sen. Inouye fought in World War II and was a sergeant who led a platoon in the war. Now 87, he wrote in his book "Journey to Washington" that his platoon attacked German soldiers in France and Italy. He later was promoted to an officer and returned home with a Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star, Purple Heart with cluster and 12 other medals and citations.
He lost an arm and suffered gunshots in his stomach and spent 20 months in army hospitals. Sen. Inouye heard about the horrors of the Holocaust from another soldier who had been in Germany, and he then studied Jewish history.
After Israel was re-established as a Jewish State in 1948, the senator signed on as a registered Israeli bond salesman without commission and considered converting to Judaism, but his Methodist mother talked him out of it.
After his delegation’s meeting with President Peres Sunday, Sen. Inouye said, “We are here to say clearly and out loud that in this period of uncertainty in the Middle East, the United States stands with you.”