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September 04, 1987 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-09-04

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

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In Washington: Relief,
Suspicion Over Lavi End

JAMES DAVID BESSER

Special to The Jewish News

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32 .FR1DAY,,SEPT. 4,1987

he recent decision by
the cabinet in Jeru-
salem to scrap the con-
troversial Lavi fighter project
was met with general relief
here—and a gnawing suspi-
cion that the issue may not be
as dead as early reports
suggest.
The Israeli decision comes
on the heels of public warn-
ings from the Administration
that the advanced fighter was
too expensive for Israel's
economy or the increasingly
strapped U.S. foreign aid
budget. Continued U.S. sup-
port for the project, according
to the Adminstration, would
only shortchange other
crucial Israeli weapons
projects.
But a more important factor
in the cabinet's ultimate deci-
sion may have been an unof-
ficial but very persuasive
slowdown in the handling of
Israeli military contracts at
the Pentagon, a moratorium
meant to convince the Israelis
to abandon a project that the
Pentagon has consistently
opposed.
"It was a very courageous
decision by the cabinet," said
Dov Zackheim, the former
deputy under secretary of
defense who played a key role
in arguing the Pentagon's
case against the Lavi in
Jerusalem. "I know how dif-
ficult this was for them — but
militarily and economically,
it was the right thing. Now
it's important to move on to a
serious discussion of the
alternatives to the Lavi, and
how those alternatives can
generate jobs in Israel."
Zackheim also pointed out
that funds released from the
expensive Lavi project are
needed in other weapons pro-
grams. "There are a number
of areas where this additional
funding is badly needed," he
said.
Shoshana Bryen, director
of the Jewish Institute for Na-
tional Security Affairs here in
Washington, cautioned
against overemphasizing the
American role in the decision
to scrap the Lavi. "It was a
very complex issue," she said.
"I think it was inevitable, and
I'm glad they finally made
the decision. What happened
to them is that they were
spending a lot money not
deciding. This was not
helpful. It's true that U.S.
pressure was part of it — but

so were internal politics.
Even without us, there were
a lot of Israeli factors working
against the continuation of
the Lavi."
Bryen, unlike some ana-
lysts, refuses to characterize
the Pentagon's activities as
coercive. "Basically, they have
been very generous in offer-
ing alternatives to a project
that Israel probably couldn't
afford," she said. "Some of the
pressure from this end came
from the Pentagon's will-
ingness to offer other planes,
or increased funding for naval
development."
Hirsh Goodman, a defense
correspondent for the Jeru-
salem Post who is currently
working at the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy,
took a harsher view of the

"Keep in mind the
B1 bomber here in
the United States.
A few years back,
it was killed — and
now we have a
fleet of them."

Pentagon's role. "In my gut, I
think this was a terrible deci-
sion," he said in an interview.
"There is one very hard fact
in this: Congress can be for
something, Israel can be for
something, but if the Pen-
tagon is against it, you can't
do it."
Goodman insisted that the
anti-Lavi pressure from the
Defense Department was
clear and powerful. "Take
Grumman, which was mak-
ing the wing sections for the
Lavi," he said. "This contract
was worth some $250 million.
So naturally, Grumman was
interested in keeping it alive.
But the message they got
from Pentagon was, if you
want to sell us other planes,
don't touch the Lavi."
Goodman said that the new
ambassador, Moshe Arad,
was aware of the problem and
had discussed it prior to his
month-long vacation.
The Pentagon's longstand-
ing opposition to the Lavi,
Goodman said, is based on
several factors, including
pressure from U.S. arms
makers reluctant to face com-
petition from an Israeli plane,
and fears that the budgetary
emphasis on the Lavi would
reduce Israel's ability to re-

spond to new weapons like
short and medium range
missiles.

NCR Fined $381,000

The summer doldrums
haven't affected the people at
the Commerce Department's
Office of Antiboycott Com-
pliance, who have been
unusually busy in recent
weeks.
The recent announcement
that a fine of some $381,000
had been levied against NCR,
the huge computer and elec-
tronics corporation, caught
Jewish activists here by sur-
prise. The fine is the largest
to date in the effort to enforce
a 1977 law prohibiting coop-
eration with the Arab boycott
against Israel.
"Yes, you'd have to say we
were surprised by the an-
nouncement," said Will
Maslow, the boycott expert for
the American Jewish Con-
gress. "NCR was not one of
the companies talked about
as a major violator of the an-
tiboycott laws. Actually, I
didn't know about it until I
read the story in the Los

Angeles Times."

According to Maslow, the
law requires companies to
promptly report attempts to
obtain compliance with the
boycott against Israel.
Reports are now coming into
the Commerce Department at
a rate of about 20,000 a year
— down from a peak of 40,000
several years ago. In addition
to voluntary reports from
companies, reports are filed
by whistle blowers inside cor-
porations and by Jewish ac-
tivist groups.
Maslow emphasized that
NCR's voluntary report to the
Commerce Department was
not the same as an admission
of guilt. Although he did not
know the details of the NCR
case, Maslow said that in
many cases when a company
reports violations to Com-
merce, it is because they have
reason to believe that they
are under investigation
already — or that a whistle
blower inside the organiza-
tion is on the verge of making
a move.
A spokesman for the Office
of Antiboycott Compliance
denied that NCR was under
investigation. "This is a
company that had its own
compliance system for the an-
tiboycott laws. Their own
auditors revealed violations
that occurred over a period of
several years. They then con-

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