70. Israel can do without loan

Gone are the days when Israel and its loyalists in this country were "demanding" the $10 billion loan guarantees. Americans, used to say Shamir, "are obliged, from a moral point of view, to give Israel this aid." Now, Israel's ambassador is presenting one compromise after another. He even complained that "all the compromises proposed so far are emanating from Israel."

Concerning this issue, one must remember that Israel is not trustworthy. In 1990, Israel requested $400 million in housing loan guarantees. David Levy, Israel foreign minister, wrote a letter promising not to use the money to settle Soviet Jews "beyond the green line." [Mr. Levy also agreed to provide Mr. Baker with certain financial data to prove that the money was not going into the West Bank. Israel didn't keep its promise. The New York Times reported that "Mr. Bush is said to have literally laughed at the notion that the sort of understandings Mr. Levy agreed to for the $400 million guarantee would be satisfactory for the $10 billion."]

Nor is Israel creditworthy. This whole business about Israel never missing a payment to the U.S. is just baloney. When asked by Rep. Ben Gilman if Israel has an "excellent record of payment" on past loans, Baker said: "Generally speaking, because we appropriate the money up here with which to repay ourselves, that's correct."

Furthermore, an increasing number of Jews are returning from Israel to Russia and Ukraine. This is, by the way, a genuine return, not the "return" Israel refers to in what it improperly calls the "Law of Return." The Washington Post reported that "7,000 Soviet emigrants had left the country (Israel) during 1991." And Jewish immigration from the former Soviet Union has drastically dropped from 34,000 in December 1991 alone "to little more than 4,000" in February 1992. If this is the case, what are those billions needed for?

April 14, 1992