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May 15, 1987 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-05-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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40

Friday. Mav 15. 1987

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Israel Battling For
SDI Research Funds

JAMES DAVID BESSER

Special to The Jewish News

I

t is a curious fact of life in
Washington that the legis-
lative process rarely moves
in straight lines. In the case
of legislation involving Israel,
the route to a final bill is often
more like a maze.
A case in point has been
the recent debate over Israeli
participation in research for
President Reagan's Strategic
Defense Initiative (SDI), a
controversy that has kept
various pro-Israel lobbyists
on the move in recent days.
According to Congressional
sources, lobbyists for the
Jerusalem government have
been waging a ferocious bat-
tle in the backrooms of the
Capitol for a piece of the huge
SDI research pie. While the
issue is far from settled, there
are indications that the fight
will be a difficult one.
And a recent story in the
Washington Times accusing
pro-Israel lobbying groups of
"miscalculating" Congres-
sional sentiment on the issue
has left thosegroups deeply
concerned that premature
public discussion of the sen-
sitive issue may jeopardize
Israel's chances.
The problem, according to
one source, is "lousy timing."
On one hand, technical ex-
perts agree that Israel al-
ready has the technological
expertise to make them a
logical choice for advanced
anti-missile research.
At the -same time, pro-
ponents of Israeli participa-
tion are running up against
growing sentiment on the Hill
to keep research and develop-
ment money in the United
States. There is also deep con-
cern that anti-missile re-
search among America's al-
lies might complicate U.S,
Soviet arms reductions talks.
This concern will likely grow
as negotiators focus on the
question of short and medium
range weapons in Europa
Finally, there is the
widespread public and con-
gressional opposition to the
entire SDI concept, a senti-
ment that has placed even
some of Israel's staunchest
backers at loggersheads with
the Jerusalem government.
According to some reports, a
key factor in the Senate
Armed Services Committee's
initial rejection of an amend-
ment guaranteeing funding
for Israeli anti-missile pro-
jects was the opposition of

Sen. Levin: opposes the
Administration's ABM policy.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) who
is opposed to the Reagan Ad-
ministration's "broad" inter-
pretation of the 1972 Anti-
Ballistic Missile Treaty.
For Israel, lobbyists argue,
the stakes in the SDI fight
are high. Soviet-made SS-21s
now in place in Syria are
capable of delivering conven-
tional, nuclear or chemical
weapons up to eighty miles.
SDI research contracts could
be an important factor in
quickly developing the tech-
nologies to defend against
these and future generations
of short-range missiles.
Israel is not alone in its
unhappiness over the way
SDI contracts are being
parceled out. Britain, Ger-
many and Italy, which along
with Israel signed an agree-
ment to participate in SDI
development, have all quietly
expressed dissatisfaction at
the amount of SDI money
sent their way and at the
strings attached to the
contracts.
Israel is not being singled
out, sources say. The fact is,
SDI is an enormously con-
troversial project with
enough arms-control implica-
tions to keep the issue bounc-
ing back and forth on the Hill
for many months to coma

Concern About
Foreign Aid Cuts
Conflicting stories continue
to surface about sweeping
foreign aid cuts that could
jeopardize the special status
that Israel and several other
countries now enjoy. While
the budgets that will event-
ually emerge from the Capitol
are far from set, a proposal
made in the House Foreign
Affairs Committee during re-
cent markup sessions for the

foreign aid bill have given pro-
Israeli groups a serious case
of the jitters.
The proposal, made by Rep.
Lee Hamilton, would man-
date a 4.5 percent across-the-
board reduction in foreign aid
for the next fiscal year, with
no nations protected from the
cuts.
Although the proposal was
quickly withdrawn, concern
among Israel's backers on the
Hill lingers. Hamilton's pro-
posal, which insiders say was
a test balloon, would bypass
the special protections
erected by the 12-year-old
policy of "earmarking" for-
eign aid funds for certain
friendly countries. Represent-
atives of Jewish political
groups involved in the discus-
sion accept the need for
substantial cuts to meet new
budget guidelines, but worry
that the discussions are
moving in the direction of
questioning the policy of ear-
marking itself.
And they are concerned
that such cuts might be
viewed as a precedent.
"Where Israel is concerned,"
one source close to thediscus-
sion said, "everything is a
precedent."

Setback For Rumania
In a move that caught con-
gressional observers by sur-
prise, the House last week
voted to repeal Most Favored
Nation status for Rumania
for six months. The amend-
ment to the huge trade bill
was introduced by Congress-
man Frank Wolf of Virginia,
who argued that it was
necessary to "send a mes-
sage" to the Rumanian gov-
ernment about the repression
of minorities and the dwin-
dling tide of emigration from
that country.
And, in a curious attempt
to tie the measure into cur-
rent concerns about the trade
deficit, Rep. Wolf argued that
Rumania's small trade sur-
plus with the United States
justified their removal from
the list of favored nations.
Most Jewish groups have
supported MFN status for
Rumania, on the theory that
trade concessions might in-
duce that country to improve
its human rights stance.
Human rights grOups gen-
erally rank the Rumanian
government's treatment of
Jews as better than that of
most other Soviet bloc
nations.
However,
other
knowledgeable sources see

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