(Senate - June 28, 2000)

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[Page S6007]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                         ADDITIONAL STATEMENTS


                        PRESERVING TYRE, LEBANON

 Mr. ABRAHAM. Mr. President, I rise today to recognize the 
American National Committee for Tyre and the International Association 
to Save Tyre for all the good work they are doing to raise awareness on 
the issue of preserving this great historical site. As many may know, 
Tyre, Lebanon was one of the most important cities in the classical 
era. It served as an administrative center of life for the people of 
the Mediterranean region, and was the birthplace for the modern day 
alphabet and democracy. If restored to its original beauty, and its 
antiquities are carefully unearthed and preserved, Tyre could become a 
world center for cultural education of past civilizations.
  I am pleased to serve as the Honorary Chairman of the American 
National Committee and I am honored to work with my colleague and 
friend, Senator Claiborne Pell, whose previous 20 years of leadership 
on this issue remains invaluable.
  There is no dispute that underneath the present day soil of Tyre lies 
the great archeological treasures of eight successive civilizations: 
the Phoenician, Persian, Roman, Greek, Byzantine, Arab, and Ottoman, as 
well as that of the Crusaders. Many attempts have been made to unearth 
these treasures, but present day realities have made it very difficult 
to implement a full fledged plan to discover these antiquities.
  Tyre has been designated as a World Heritage site, and as such, 
should be treated with great respect for the education of future 
generations. The Government of Lebanon is searching for ways to protect 
the archeological sites while planning realistically for economic 
expansion and tourism. However there are problems.
  The Lebanese Government recently approved building the southern 
extension of the coastal highway near many of the archeological 
treasures. The government has also permitted some of the coastal sea 
area to be refilled for the construction of parking lots. In addition, 
there has been damaging activity surrounding Tell El-Mashouk.
  It is my hope that the Lebanese government will institute a master 
plan, cultural resources assessment, and a management plan for Tyre 
which will clearly map out the best approach at uncovering, preserving, 
and displaying these vast treasures. I do hope that the government will 
cease it present activity in the area until it can develop a workable 
and enforceable plan.
  It seems a particularly appropriate time for the Lebanese Government 
to be planning their approach to the city of Tyre. With the Israeli 
withdrawal from the South of Lebanon, and peace close at hand, Lebanon 
can begin the process of rebuilding through tourism. It is my hope that 
part of the agenda to rebuild Southern Lebanon includes the 
preservation of the great city of Tyre and its surroundings, and I 
offer my assistance to do what I can in the United States to help the 
government of Lebanon achieve this goal.