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February 21, 2003 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-02-21

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

Washington Watch

Two Steps Forward

Aid measure contains a few bones for Israel, but not what it wanted.

JAMES D. BESSER
Washington Correspondent

ro-Israel lobbyists are crow-
ing about the much-delayed
budget bill for the fiscal
year that's already half over
because it contains symbolic provi-
sions that strongly support Israel in its
battle against terrorism.
This week, the huge spending meas-
ure went to the 'White House for
President Bush's signature. But there's
a big omission that could ultimately
have more concrete results: the meas-
ure does not include
$200 million in extra
aid that has been
gummed up in
Congress for several
years. And that's a bad

omen in a year when
Israel wants a lot more
Rep.
— up to $12 billion in
Ackerman
extra aid and loan guar-
antees.
The $398 billion spending bill was
put off after lawmakers last year man-
aged to pass only two military appro-
priations bills, leaving the non-mili-
tary side of the government unfunded.
The overall measure is about $14 bil-
lion higher than the Bush administra-
tion requested.
Critics in both parties say Congress
and the administration did everything
they could — including the elaborate
bookkeeping tricks that have been a
hallmark of recent Congresses — to
avoid making the hard budget choices
that the sagging economy and soaring
military costs demand.
The measure includes $2.8 billion in
military and economic aid for Israel,

$1.9 billion for Egypt and $75 million
for the Palestinians, but not the extra
$200 million, promised by both the
Bush and Clinton administrations.
Administration officials continue to

say extra money will be forthcoming
in a post-Iraq supplemental appropria-
tion.
But pro-Israel lobbyists have been
hearing a similar tune for several years.
Israeli officials continue to insist that
there are few obstacles to winning the
bigger aid and loan guarantee package;
W
. ashington sources say the imploding
federal budget and administration

2/21

2003

18

who some Jewish officials say has sup-
ported the Messianic Jewish move-
ment, which advocates aggressive pros-
elytization efforts among the Jews.
The new network will begin with
one-minute public service announce-
ments, which stations are running for
free, "expressing solidarity with the
Jewish people in Israel," Evans said in
an interview. "That will reach millions
of Bible-believing Christians."
Eventually, he said, the network will
feed news directly from Israel to
Christian stations to counter "the dis-
tortions by the liberal media that have
ravished Israel." He
denied that the growing
Christian Zionist move-
ment has ulterior
motives — like prosely-
tization or the fulfill-
ment of Christian Bible
prophecy.
Mike Evans
"For the past 20 years,
I have been doing this
because I believe as a
Christian I cannot love Jesus without
loving the Jewish people," he said. But
a statement of principles proclaims
that "EIBN believes the entire Bible is
true, including the Great Commission
that calls for all who name the name
of the Lord to be a witness unto Him
in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria."
Evans said the Great Commission
just refers to the need to "witness"
Israel's capital.
through good deeds and through sup-
port for Israel. But others say it has a
specific religious meaning: to bring the
Air Waves
Gospel of Christ to all mankind.
This week, delegates to the Jewish
He also downplayed arguments that
Council for Public Affairs plenum in
the Christian Zionist movement is
Baltimore will debate — among other
based heavily on "end-time" prophe-
issues — the new alliance betwe e n
cies that predict intensifying violence
Evangelical Christians and pro-Israel
against Jews until Christ's coming.
Jews.
"We do have a strong belief that the
Whatever JCPA decides, that
rebirth
of Israel in 1948, the restora-
alliance is accelerating, and so is the
tion
of
Jerusalem in 1967 and the
controversy. Last week, a group of
return of the Soviet Jews are a fulfill-
Christian ministers, with a word of
ment of prophecy — most of which
blessing from Israeli Foreign Minister
comes from the Old Testament," he
Binyamin Netanyahu and outgoing
said. "So we believe what we are doing
Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, creat-
could usher in the return of the
ed the Evangelical Israel Broadcasting
Messiah. Is that an ulterior motive?
Network (EIBN) to bring pro-Israel
Indeed it is; we would love the messi-
news and public service announce-
ah to come back."
ments to hundreds of Christian televi-
But that doesn't bother his Israeli
sion stations around the United States.
friends, he said. "Our Jewish friends
The network is the brainchild of
say: we believe in a messiah, you
Mike Evans, a Texas-based evangelist

concerns about its faltering anti-Iraq
coalition mean that moving the aid is
likely to be a slow process.
This week, an Israeli delegation was
due in Washington for working meet-
ings on the aid request. Those sessions
were rescheduled after last week's
meetings were abruptly postponed by
the American side. This week, Rep.
Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., discussed the
new aid with Israeli officials during a
visit to the region.
"The talks are ongoing, but both
sides are coming away with the feeling
that it will pass," he said. "I will cer-
tainly be doing everything I can to
make that happen."
But even if it does move in
Congress, other observers say, Israel is
unlikely to get anywhere near $4 bil-
lion in outright aid, and the $8 billion
in loan guarantees could be cut back.
What the just-passed spending bill
did include was language pushed by
pro-Israel lobbyists codifying President
Bush's conditions for Palestinian state-
hood and demanding a Government
Accounting Office report on the
United Nations Works and Refugee
Agency and its alleged role in foment-
ing terror.
The measure also includes language
that demands greater accountability
for U.S. aid to the Palestinians and
affirming the status of Jerusalem as

believe in a messiah, and you want to
support our land. And when He
comes, only He will know His name."
But some Jewish anti-missionary
leaders say the new network is just one
more step toward legitimizing active
conversion efforts among Jews in the
United States and in Israel — and
advancing the cause of the Messianic
Jews.
"He isn't a major leader of the
Messianic movement, but that's defi-
nitely his background," said Rabbi
Bentzion Kravitz, Los Angeles director
of Jews for -Judaism. "They've been
trying to gain legitimacy as Jews —
and people like Olmert are giving it to
them."
Kravitz said he opposed Olmert's
appearance last year at a California
fundraiser that raised money for terror
victims — and for "advancing the
word of God in Israel."
"The Israelis don't care about this
issue of Jews being converted to
Christianity" he said. "To them, to
lose a few to Christianity means noth-
ing compared to the issue of security,
and getting more political support. I
appreciate where they're coming from;
but they don't know where to draw
. the line."
Evans denied that he is a Messianic
Jew, but declined to discuss his reli-
gious-background, except to say that
his mother was Jewish. "I am not part
of the Messianic Jewish movement —
zero, zippo," he said. "I am proud to
be a Christian."

Crowded Field

The race for the 2004 Democratic
presidential nomination is turning
into a mob scene. This week, two
More candidates moved to join the

throng: Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio
and former Sen. Carol Moslev-Braun
of Illinois.
Both are causing jitters among

Jewish Democrats — already uneasy
about the presence of civil rights
activist Al Sharpton in the race.
Kucinich, a four-term veteran of the
House and a former mayor of
Cleveland, will stake out a strong anti-
Iraq war position. He voted against
last year's resolution authorizing the
use of force in Iraq, unlike two
Democratic frontrunners: Sen. John
Kerry of Massachusetts and Sen. Joe
Lieberman of Connecticut, who
actively promoted the measure on the
Democratic side.
Kucinich has what one pro-Israel
lobbyist described as a "very mixed
record" on Israel. When Congress

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