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January 11, 1991 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-01-11

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

INSIDE WASHINGTON

7XCITING

Pentagon Slow To Ship
Hardware To Israel

JAMES D. BESSER

Washington Correspondent

T

wo months ago, pro-
Israel activists were
crowing about the
quiet passage of new aid for
Israel, including
"drawdowns" that would
allow quick shipments of
American military equip-
ment no longer needed in
Europe.
But those drawdowns have
been slow to materialize, ac-
cording to sources here.

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The problem apparently
does not emanate from the
White House, which has
sought in the past to use
various assistance programs
as cudgels in their feuds
with the Shamir govern-
ment.
When Congress passed
these provisions before its
fall recess, the expectation
was that none of the surplus
equipment would be needed
in the Persian Gulf.
But with U.S. troop
strength approaching

300,000, Pentagon officials
are apparently getting
stingy.
"The best we can deter-
mine, this is coming from
the Pentagon," said a con-
gressional source. "With
this big open-ended com-
mitment in the Persian Gulf,
they're simply reluctant to
give up any equipment."
Last week, there were in-
dications of an informal
agreement that would free
up some of the badly needed
hardware.

_1 Saudi Arms Sale Put

On The Back Burner

What happened to the ad-
ministration's massive $14
billion arms sale to Saudi
Arabia?

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Last week, the White
House confirmed rumors
that have circulated for the
last two weeks and an-
nounced that the sale, which
was expected to be presented
to Congress later this mon-
th, was being indefinitely
postponed — at least until
the fluid situation in the
Persian Gulf becomes a little
clearer.
"There were several fac-

tors in the decision," said
Jess Hordes, Washington di-
rector for the Anti-
Defamation League. "One
was that they did not want
to further jeopardize their
effort to develop a consensus
on the Persian Gulf policy at
this very delicate moment."
Pro-Israel forces, wary of
any actions that might be
seen as endangering Ameri-
can troops in Saudi Arabia,
had hung back from a public
squabble over the arms sale.
But privately, Israel's
supporters here vigorously
argued that there was no

immediate military ratio-
nale for the sale, which
would provide weapons only
after three to five years.

And the Saudis, sensing
which way the wind was
blowing, began hinting that
they would not object to a
postponement of the sale.
Curiously, the Saudis echoed
Jewish activists by sug-
gesting that it might make
more sense to wait until the
current crisis is resolved to
decide on future military
needs for the desert
sheikdom.

Support Gathers For Bill
Altering 'Peyote Verdict'

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 11, 1991

It was the kind of task only
a lawyer could love; in re-
cent weeks, legal represent-
atives of a broad coalition of
groups have been putting
the finishing touches on the
Religious Freedom Restora-
tion Act, a new version of
last year's bill designed to
reverse a Supreme Court
decision in the so-called
"peyote" case.
Until the High Court nil-
ing, a state which restricted
or outlawed a religious prac-
tice had to prove a
"compelling state interest"
in such a restriction. The
Court decision removed that
necessity; the Religious
Freedom bill would restore
it.
Despite an impressive list
of co-sponsors and a surpris-
ingly broad coalition suppor-
ting the bill, last year's mea-
sure died because there was
no room on the busy con-
gressional calendar.
This time around, pro-
moters of the measure plan

to get an early start.
"We're putting the final
touches on the draft," said
Marc Stern, legal director
for the American Jewish
Congress and chair of the
bill's drafting committee.
"Most of the changes are the
kinds of things lawyers get
giddy about —but nobody

else cares much about."
Other Jewish groups,
ranging from the conser-
vative Agudath Israel of
America to the liberal Union
of American Hebrew Con-
gregations, have put the new
bill high on their list of
priorities for the upcoming
session.

Jewish Lawmakers Plan
Jerusalem Conference

A handful of congressmen
took some time out from the
first day of the 102nd Con-
gress to discuss the second
Jewish Parliamentarians
Conference — a gathering of
Jewish legislators from a
number of countries,
scheduled for February in
Jerusalem.
But the prospect of war in
the Persian Gulf — and the
potential need for congres-
sional action to deal with the

explosive situation — may
limit American participa-
tion.
The conference would br-
ing together Jewish legis-
lators from Israel, the
United States, Canada,
Bulgaria, Panama, the
United Kingdom, Ireland,
France, Venezuela, Costa
Rica, South Africa, Den-
mark, Italy, Hungary, Brazil
and Argentina to discuss
common concerns.

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