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September 21, 1990 - Image 35

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-09-21

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

INSIDE WASHINGTON

■ 1111 ■ 1111111=1•111111==11111.1

JAMES D. BESSER

Washington. Correspondent

Saudi Arms Sale 'Offset'
To Israel Seems Unlikely

T

he word of the week
among pro-Israel ac-
tivists is "offsets" as
the administration cranks
up a colossal arms sale to
Saudi Arabia.
Two weeks ago, rumors
suggested a sale in the
works amounting to no more
than $10 billion — a huge
sale that put Israeli nerves
on edge.
But late last week, it
became clear that the ad-
ministration had something
else in mind — a package
totalling as much as $20
billion in hardware, in-
cluding advanced Patriot
missiles, F-15 fighters,
almost 50 Apache attack
helicopters and several hun-
dred M1A1 tanks.
"The size of the proposal is
almost inconceivable," said
Malcolm Hoenlein, exec-
utive director of the Con-
ference of Presidents of
Major American Jewish
Organizations. "We're sym-

pathetic to Saudi Arabia's
defense needs — but this
goes well beyond their
needs."
But among pro-Israel

Malcolm Hoenlein:
Going "well beyond."

groups here, the word is that
any major opposition to the
package could produce a
dangerous backlash.

Apparently the American-
Israel Public Affairs Com-
mittee (AIPAC) agrees. The
premier pro-Israel lobbying
group has already sent
signals that it will focus its
considerable energies on
guaranteeing that Israel
receives additional weapons
— including Patriot missiles
that would provide some
defense against Iraqi and
Syrian missiles.
Despite the fact that the
administration is basically
sympathetic to Israel's con-
cerns, it will be an uphill
fight.
The Saudis will pay cash
for their $20 billion in
weapons. Additional Israeli
weapons can only come from
increases in U.S. aid to
Jerusalem — or from
"creative financing" ar-
rangements between the two
governments.
With the economy looking
bleaker by the day and with
the enormous financial
drain caused by the Gulf
crisis, Congress and the ad-
ministration may not be in a
very generous mood when it
comes to extra money for
Israeli offsets.

Congressman Has Nose
For Anti-Israel Threats

Rep. Larry Smith (D-Fla.)
may look like any other
young congressman, but
when it comes to rooting out
threats to Israel lurking in
innocuous-seeming bills or
executive decisions, Mr.
Smith is more like a terrier.
Currently, Mr. Smith is
tangling with the Commerce
and State Departments over
supercomputers for Brazil —
an issue with a roundabout
Middle East connection.
The Commerce Depart-
ment has been processing an
application by the Interna-
tional Business Machines
Corp. (IBM) for an export
license to sell supercom-
puters to Brazil, a machine
in the same class as the
computer that has been a
continuing sore point bet-
ween Washington and
Jerusalem.
Supercomputers can be
important ingredients in the
development of advanced
weapons — including mis-
siles and nuclear warheads.
The problem, according to
Rep. Smith, is that Brazil
has been a major supplier of
advanced technology to
Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
Currently, a delegation of
Brazilian engineers are in
Iraq, working to upgrade
Saddam's missiles. This
delegation is comprised

mostly of former employees
of Embraer, a quasi-
governmental aircraft cor-
poration.
And Embraer is one of the
companies slated to receive
an IBM supercomputer.
"There is a well-founded
fear on the part of many ex-
perts," Mr. Smith wrote in a
letter to Commerce Secre-
tary Robert Mosbacher,
"that this team continues to
share information with their
former associates in the
Brazilian government."
In other words, supercom-
puters for Brazil could in-
directly contribute to

Saddam Hussein's quest for
nuclear weapons and for the
means to deliver them.
Mr. Smith is circulating a
letter in the House asking
for a delay in the sale and an
investigation of its potential
impact. He is also working
with his counterparts in the
Senate in the hopes of get-
ting some friendly senator —
probably Sen. Bob Kasten
(R-Wis.) — to throw a
monkey wrench in the deal
by adding language to the
Commerce, State and
Justice appropriations bill
condemning the proposed
sale.

Sen. Specter Under Fire
For Mideast Positions

It's been a hard month for
Sen. Arlen Specter, the in-
dependent-minded Repub-
lican from Pennsylvania.
Until the Iraqi invasion of
Kuwait, Sen. Specter, who is
Jewish, was an outspoken
opponent of sanctions on the
government of Iraq's
Saddam Hussein — a fact
that aroused the wrath of
some Jewish activists here.
In a meeting early this
summer with a group of
prominent pro-Israel ac-
tivists, Mr. Specter — who
supported the notion that
Saddam Hussein could be
dealt with through diplo-
matic channels — saw his
position vigorously
challenged.
And now that Saddam's
troops are committing may-
hem on the streets of
Kuwait, Mr. Specter con-
tinues to hear from irritated
Jewish activists.
Last week, Sen. Specter
spoke to the Conference of
Presidents of Major Ameri-
can Jewish Organizations,
where he was expected to re-
spond to criticisms of his
positions on Iraq.
But according to some par-
ticipants, Mr. Specter did
not go far enough in repu-
diating his former opinions
about Saddam. More impor-

program — and the hate
crimes act — are safe.
The problem was primari-
ly budgetary. With sharp
cuts expected in the
Department of Justice
budget, there were rumbl-
ings that the administration
would slash the UCR divi-
sion to the bone, and assign
record-keeping respon-
sibilities for the hate crimes
act to some other branch.
But Jewish activists ob-
jected.

tantly, they suggested, the
legislator promoted a "soft"
line towards Syria's Hafez
Assad.
The Jewish activists at the
meeting strongly urged Mr.
Specter not to make the
same mistakes with Mr.
Assad that he made with
Saddam Hussein.
But Mr. Specter has also .
been attracting attention
with a letter to Defense Sec-
retary Dick Cheney strongly
stating the need for immedi-
ate military aid to Israel to
offset the huge influx of ad-
vanced arms to friendly
Arab states.

Will AIPAC's New Deputy
Help Or Threaten Dine?

The American Israel
Public Affairs Committee
(AIPAC), the premier pro-
Israel lobbying organization,

Tom Dine:
May be the loser.

become deputy executive di-
rector for the group — in
effect, second-in-command to
AIPAC's highly visible
leader, Tom Dine.
Mr. Kohr came to AIPAC
in 1987 after five years as
deputy to Hyman
Bookbinder, at that time the
Washington representative
for the American Jewish
Committee. Mr. Kohr then
demonstrated his political
versatility by serving as
deputy director of the Na-
tional Jewish Coalition — a
group of conservative
Republican activists.
Officially, the promotion
reflects AIPAC's rapid
growth and the need for ad-
ditional administrative help
to keep the efficient lobbying
group chugging along.

is getting something of a
new look.
Howard Kohr, formerly
the director of executive
branch relations, will

But some AIPAC-watchers
saw the move as a blow to
Mr. Dine, who had re-
portedly argued against
filling the post, which had
been vacant since 1985.

Hate Crimes Program
Seems Safe For 1991

Several weeks ago, there
were indications that the
Justice Department would
de-fund the Uniform Crime
Reports division of the FBI,
the agency charged with col-
lecting data for the newly
passed Hate Crimes
Statistics Act.
But now, thanks to some
behind-the-scenes work by a
coalition of Jewish activists
and law enforcement offi-
cials from around the coun-
try, it looks like the UCR

Arlen Specter:
"Soft" on Assad?



THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

35

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