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March 24, 1989 - Image 30

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-03-24

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M' 44 4

- /

FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 1989


Washington Correspondent

Harvard Row

Phil 'B' Pharm.
Evergreen & Twelve Mile

Pro-Jordanian Lobbyists Find
Support For Foreign Aid Pleas

‘,, z74


hile talk of possible
cuts in foreign aid
to Egypt and Israel
has preoccupied Jewish ac-
tivists here in recent days,
another foreign aid battle is
producing some strange
Lobbyists for Jordan are
working effectively to con-
vince Congress that an in-
crease in aid for the Amman
government would be a sta-
bilizing force in the Middle
And so far, there are indica-
tions that several Jewish con-
gressmen and some of Israel's
most vigorous defenders on
Capitol Hill are finding no ob-
jections to this argument.
Last year, Jordan's foreign
aid grant suffered drastic
cuts, a result of the general
pressure on the foreign aid
budget for a number of
This year, lobbyists for the
Amman government, with
the unofficial support of many
in the pro-Israel community,
are gunning for an increase,
to a level of $48 million for
military aid and $35 million
in economic support funds,
still a far cry from the $3
billion slated for Israel.
Most important, supporters
of Jordan's pleas are arguing
for "earmarks" on some of
that money, which would pro-
tect it from expected across-
the-board cuts in the foreign
aid budget.
So far, there are no indica-
tions of significant opposition
to the aid request. Officially,
pro-Israel groups and Jewish
congressmen are keeping
quiet about the subject; unof-
ficially, there is a growing
feeling among many pro-
Israel activists that the
severe economic crisis in Jor-
dan poses a threat to Mideast
"There is concern that last
year's low levels of aid can on-
ly make matters worse," said
one lobbyist involved in the
debate. "The real battle in-
volves earmarks; will there be
any earmarks besides those
for Israel and Egypt?"

Of Caribous
And The Jews
And Alaskan Oil

The caribou question came
up again in Congress last
week, and as usual there was
a strange Israeli twist to the

Congress is chewing on a
bill giving the go-ahead to oil
exploration in a wild stretch
of Alaska along the Arctic
Ocean. During the last ses-
sion, a similar proposal died
when Democratic leaders
refused to bring it to the
Senate floor.
The bill is being strenuous-
ly opposed by environmental
groups like the Sierra Club,
which insist that oil develop-
ment threatens endangered
species, including caribou,
polar bears and wolverines.
Where does Israel enter the
picture? According to Morris
Amitay, Washington's
premier pro-Israel lobbyist,
there is a direct connection
between Israel's security
needs and the development of
new Alaskan oil fields.
"Can you imagine what ad-
ministration policy toward
Israel would be if the Arab oil
producers had their act
together and increased the
price of oil?" Amitay asked.
"The Anti-Defamation
League sent up a report show-
ing that U.S. policy could be
seriously affected by any
Arab oil blockade now."
At issue, Amitay said, is the
potential for up to two billion
barrels of oil a day, which
could come on-line in about
10 years — when experts
predict the Prudhoe Bay oil
field in Alaska may begin to
run dry.
"And in the Jewish com-
munity," Amitay argued,
"many good friends of Israel
simply don't think in terms of
these kinds of geopolitical
and national security issues."
Two years ago, when an
earlier attempt to pass the
bill was causing a congres-
sional ruckus, some en-
vironmentalists complained
that Amitay's reputation as
an effective pro-Israel lobbyist
was a kind of unfair advan-
tage for pro-development

A Supreme
For O'Connor

Last week's curious ex-
change between the
Washington Post and the of-
fice of Supreme Court Justice
Sandra Day O'Connor may
have been sparked by the
curiosity of a Jewish activist
The controversy involved a
letter from O'Connor to a con-
servative activist that listed
previous Supreme Court deci-
sions "to the effect that this
is a Christian nation."

The letter was used by con-
servatives in Arizona in their
drive to pass a statewide
Republican Party resolution
declaring the United States a
"Christian nation."
Although the letter
generated a few minor news
stories, it was brought to na-
tional attention through the

Sandra D. O'Connor:
Mixing with politics.

curiosity of Buzzy Gordon,
director of media relations for
B'nai B'rith International.
"When I first heard about
all this, I had a sense that this
was a bigger story," Gordon
said. "I contacted O'Connor's
office here and asked • for
details of the letter and for a
statement from her. But her
office indicated that they had
no record of any letter on the
Gordon -then contacted the
Post to reveal this fact: in his
conversations with Post
editors, Gordon urged a
followup story on what legal
scholars consider an improper
injection of a Supreme Court
justice into a political
The result was a major
story in last Wednesday's
Washington Post, complete
with a copy of the O'Connor
letter and expert opinion that
O'Connor had misinterpreted
the previous Supreme Court
decisions. The letter was also
attacked by groups like the
People for the American Way,
which regard the "Christian
nation" movement as a major
force for religious intolerance.
Within a matter of hours,
O'Connor had issued a state-
ment apologizing for the let-
ter. "I regret that the letter I
sent to an acquaintance in
response to her request for in-
formation was used in a
political debate," O'Connor
said in a statement.

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