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January 31, 2003 - Image 29

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-01-31

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

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naled it will readily accept strict U.S.
conditions.
APN supports the badly needed pack-
age of grant aid and loan guarantees,
which totals more than $12 billion. But
the group wants detailed conditions
ensuring that no. money is used to sup-
port settlements in Gaza and the West
Bank, which the group regards as pri-
mary obstacles to peace.
And APN is suggesting that 20 per-
cent of the loan guarantee money be set
aside for construction of housing for
settlers who want to relocate inside
Israel.
Last week, APN buttressed its
demand with a study showing that a
large amount of current U.S. economic
aid "is spent on settlers and settle-
ments." Lewis Roth, APN's assistant
executive director, said the study was
part of an "ongoing campaign. And it
underestimates what is actually spent on
settlements; there are areas of the
[Israeli] budget where what's spent
inside the Green Line and on settle-
ments can't be separated."
He said the group is distributing the
report to members of Congress, who
must vote on both the extra aid and the
loan guarantees.
But an Israeli official rejected APN's
math, insisting that most money spent
over the Green Line goes to security of
existing settlements. "They have a right
to believe the settlements should be
removed," the source said. "But as long
as they are there, they should be pro-
tected. It is inaccurate to say this gov-
ernment spending is going to settlement
construction."
According to Washington sources,
Israel made it clear from the outset that
it would accept the same conditions
against using new aid or loans outside
the Green Line that were attached to
the 1991 loan guarantees.
Several Jewish activists said the APN
demand that some loan money be
reserved for settler resettlement was a
smart political ploy — but one that is
unlikely to gain much traction in a
Congress that seems unwilling to chal-
lenge the current Israeli government.
The biggest debate will likely come
over how the loan guarantees are
scored" — the amount of money that
must be set aside against any possible
default.
Israel has indicated that, as it did in
1991, it will pick up the costs of scor-
ing. But exactly how much must be set
aside is determined by the Congress-
ional Budget Office.
The Bush administration has signaled
it will consider the request during a
series of meetings with visiting Israeli

"

delegations in the next few weeks, but
also that it is in no rush. In fact, the
White House is expected to hold up the
aid package until it can be incorporated
into a massive post-Iraq regional pack-
age.

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Hispanic Ties

According to recent Census Bureau sta-
tistics, the Hispanic population is soar-
ing and the community has edged out
African Americans as the nation's
biggest minority group.
That poses a new challenge for Jewish
groups that need coalition partners in
Washington and in statehouses across
the country.
Next week, the Foundation for
Ethnic Understanding, which has
focused in the past on black-Jewish rela-
tions, will hold its first-ever congression-
al event bringing together
Jewish and Hispanic
members of Congress.
In fact, the Hispanic
caucus in the House is
just about as large as the
Jewish delegation. "The
black, Hispanic and
Rabbi
Asian caucuses will only
Schneier
grow," said Rabbi Marc
Schneier, president of the
foundation. "Those of us who are very
concerned about maintaining and
improving support for the state of Israel
have to focus our energies on these eth-
nic communities."
Building Jewish-Hispanic ties will be
harder in some respects than furthering
black-Jewish relations, he said. "With
the African-American community, we
have a shared history," Rabbi Schneier
said. "On one hand, blacks and Jews
brought about the greatest social change
in the history of the nation through the
civil rights movement. At the same
time, we have had very difficult, divisive
movements."
The Jewish and Hispanic communi-
ties have yet to develop that extensive
network of social and political ties, he
said. "For the most part, Jews and
Latinos have had good relations; now
we need to find those issues that can
really serve as catalysts to take the rela-
tionship to the next level."
In part because of the new Hispanic
focus, the foundation is getting set to
open a Washington office sometime in
June. "The focus will be on strengthen-
ing relations between the black, Jewish,
Hispanic and Asian caucuses in
Congress," Rabbi Schneier said.
"We can be very helpful in promot-
ing the wide range of race-relations
and ethnic issues in Congress."

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