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February 10, 1989 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-02-10

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

I CAPITOL REPORT I

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Capitol Correspondent

I

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30 .FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 1989

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srael is in danger of
losing some of the $3 bil-
lion in proposed United
States economic assistance
because it has dropped the
ball on the Middle East peace
issue, according to Douglas
Bloomfield, former legislative
director for the American
Israel Public Affairs Commit-
tee (AIPAC).
Bloomfield, who for nine
years headed AIPAC's lobby-
ing affairs, warned that Israel
may have some serious pro-
blems in the battle for
American public opinion.
"Israel, unfortunately, has
lost the peace issue and that
is the one thing that most
members of Congress are
looking at today," he said in
a recent interview. "It is too
early yet to tell how that is
going to translate into votes.
But there is a great deal of
dismay with Israel over its
handling of the intifada in
particular, and the peace pro-
cess in general?'
Since the U.S. opening to
the Palestine Liberation Or-
ganization, Bloomfield said it
is important that Israel's
coalition government come
forward with some far-sighted
policies to meet the current
challenge.
"There is growing frustra-
tion that Israel seems to be
digging in its heels and not
coming up with anything in
the way of its own peace in-
itiative," Bloomfield said.
Before joining AIPAC, the
46-year-old Bloomfield spent
nine years working for the
late Democratic represen-
tative Benjamin Rosenthal of
New York and the late Sen.
Hubert Humphrey. During
his past 18 years in Wash-
ington, he has earned a
reputation as one of the most
knowledgeable insiders on
the complex role of Congress
in shaping policy toward
Israel and the Middle East.
Bloomfield urged Israel to
come up with a realistic and
flexible peace initiative, that
is "creative and credible.
"That means," he said, "it is
not going to get shot down im-
mediately by Israel's critics in
Washington — namely the
Washington news media."
It is important, Bloomfield
said, that the initiative be
something new "and is not, as
we've said about the Arabs for
so many years — 'old wine in
new bottles.' Unfortunately,
today it appears that it is the
Arabs in general and the PLO

in particular who are flexible,
who are looking for peace.
Israel, on the other hand, is
on the defensive and has
reversed its role. "For so many
years it was said, and I
believe Abba Eban was the
source of the quote, that the
Arabs never missed an oppor-
tunity to miss an opportuni-
ty! Now they are saying it on
Capitol Hill about Israel."
This new negative image of
Israel could directly affect
legislative voting in Wash-
ington, especially since
budget cuts seem almost in-
evitable.
"There's going to be a lot of
screaming by a lot of people
clear across the political spec-
trum — from right t6 left,
domestic to defense to inter-
national. The Reagan budget
called for a slight increase —

"I think certainly
you have to admit
that these are very
troubled times in
Israel."

2 percent — in defense spend-
ing," Bloomfield said. "The
Bush budget will probably
call for zero growth in defense
and maybe even a cut!'
Some of Israel's money
could be endangered if an
estimated $44 billion in the
overall federal budget will
have to be removed in accord-
ance with the Gramm-
Rudman-Hollings deficit
reduction law. "So there's a
lot of cutting to come out,"
Bloomfield said.
At the same time, the
House Budget Committee
will decide in general figures
how much money should be
made available for the world-
wide foreign aid program. In
the past, the panel has often
called for the full funding of
aid to Israel.
But even more important,
he said, will be the action of
the House Foreign Affairs
Committee in "earmarking"
specific, funds for Israel —
meaning that the administra-
tion would have to disburse
the full sums to Israel
without any reductions.
Most senior administration
officials want to do away with
earmarking in order to have
more flexibility in their
overall foreign aid program.
For Israel, this is a very im-
portant issue.
But Israel has many friends
who can be expected to press
for the full funding of the
Israeli package. "I suspect

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