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March 21, 2003 - Image 34

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-03-21

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

Washington Watch

AIPAC Invitee

Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice met
with a delegation of Jewish leaders and
seemed to indicate that the administra-
tion was in no hurry to push the road
map, which was created by the Mideast
"quartet," and which the Europeans
and the Russians want to implement
immediately.
"Ms. Rice's comments seem to rein-
Congress to the administration's deter-
force
the impression that the speech on
mination to dish out money to
the
road
map was mostly an effort to
prospective allies.
provide
some
cover for (British Prime
While support for the Israel portion
Minister
Tony)
Blair," said a leading
of the aid is high, that backlash could
Jewish activist.
slow the process down. And there may
On Tuesday, Palestinian leader Yasser
be growing resistance to big new expen-
Arafat
signed legislation creating the
ditures at the start of a war whose costs
position,
and most observers expect
have not been figured into current
him
to
appoint
Mahmoud Abbas, a
budget calculations, but which are
longtime
aide,
to
the job. Blair said the
expected to run in the hundreds of bil-
plan
could
be
presented
to Israel and
lions of dollars.
the Palestinians as early as this week.
Last week, the two top Senate leaders
The Jewish community's all-over-the-
weighed in with a letter supporting the
map
response to the president's speech
aid; this week it was the turn of their
reflected
the confusion it
House counterparts:
caused.
AIPAC
applaud-
Speaker Dennis Hastert,
ed
the
president's
"con-
R-Ill., and Minority
sistent
support
for
a
Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-
peace
process
predicated
Calif.
on proven, effective
Pelosi, according to
Palestinian leadership."
reporters, refused to sign
But the Anti-
the Senate letter, which
Tony Blair
Defamation
League
included broad-brush
blasted the renewed road
praise of the president's
map talk, pointing out that "little has
Mideast policies, and
changed in Israeli-Palestinian relations"
insisted on a separate
since President Bush laid out his
missive.
Mideast vision in a June speech.
Israeli officials say
Abraham Foxman, ADEs national
they've complied with
director,
said the Bush speech will have
administration requests
"horrendous
consequences" because it
for more information
creates
a
linkage
between the Iraq crisis
about economic reform
Rep. Hastert and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
in their country and
"What is clear is that some groups
about exactly how the
that
oppose the road map plan
money will be spent.
applauded
the president's speech
"They've seen all our graphs and our
because
they
don't think he meant it,"
positions are all on the table," said one.
said
a
pro-Israel
activist. 'And pro-
"Nov the ball is in their court."
peace
process
groups
applauded it
AIPAC lobbyists, sources say, are
because
they
are
hoping
he does."
pushing for the full amount, without
conditions. But Israeli officials have sig-
naled that they will accept conditions
Moran Affair
limiting the use of the money to inside
Republican leaders can barely restrain
Israel and not. by Israeli settlements in
their excitement over the Jim Moran
the Palestinian territories.
affair, which many hope will push more
Jewish voters into their ranks.
But a number of political analysts say
Rose Garden
that
effective damage control by Jewish
The AIPAC meetings will take place as
Democrats
and the fact that the GOP
the Bush policies on the Israeli-
has
its
own
liabilities
with Jewish voters
Palestinian conflict get murkier.
mean
that
the
controversy
is not likely
On Friday, President George W
to
touch
off
a
political
exodus.
Bush surprised Jewish leaders with his
Recently Moran, a Democratic liberal
Rose Garden speech promising to offi-
who
represents a Virginia suburb of
cially unveil the new Mideast "road
Washington,
ignited controversy when
map" as soon as the new Palestinian
he
told
a
church
group that "If it were
prime minister is confirmed.
not
for
the
strong
support of the Jewish
• But on the same day, National

Christian conservative gets high billing at annual AIPAC convention.

JAMES D. BESSER
Washington Correspondent

T

he political shift in which
Christian conservatives have
emerged as the darlings of
pro-Israel groups will get
another boost at this week's annual pol-
icy conference of the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC),
which begins in Washington on March
30.
The conference, a high-profile
demonstration of pro-Israel might and
a pep rally for the group's network of
grass-roots activists, will
take place against the
backdrop of a war with
Iraq that could be
underway as delegates
assemble, ambiguous
new U.S. moves in the
Israeli-Palestinian con-
Silvan
flict and the huge poten- Shalom
tial danger to Israel if
Iraq lashes out against
the Jewish state.
It also comes as the pro-Israel lobby
is fighting for an unprecedented $12
billion in extra U.S. aid and loan guar-
antees for Israel. U.S. and Israeli offi-
cials are negotiating the details of that
package, but it is primarily AIPAC lob-
byists who will have to sell it to a
Congress that is already facing the
worst budget crisis in recent memory.
The Christian right presence will
come early at the AIPAC conference.
The opening plenary will be keynoted
by Gary Bauer — the former presiden-
tial candidate and president of
American Values, a new religious right
group.
"His appearance as keynoter shows
how front-and-center this relationship
with the conservative Christians has
become," said a longtime pro-Israel
activist. "It's the culmination of a 23-
year campaign by AIPAC to develop
better relations with this political seg-
ment."
That effort hasn't always paid off, the
activist said, but today, with a conserva-
tive Christian in the White House,
"these groups do have clout with the
administration, and they're apparently
willing to use it for Israel at a very diffi-
cult time."
The AIPAC gathering, which is

3/21
2003

34

expected to draw 2,900 delegates and
600 students, will also feature unprece-
dented security as anxieties over new
terrorist attacks increase. This week,
AIPAC leaders wrote to delegates assur-
ing them there will be a "protective
bubble" of law-enforcement officials
and intelligence and security specialists
at the conference.
AIPAC officials also said the lack of
big anti-war, pro-Palestinian demon-
strations like the ones that raged just
outside the hotel during last year's con-
ference will enable officials to concen-
trate on security inside the hotel.
Delegates will not get to hear from
Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who
was expected to attend but will remain
in Jerusalem because of the crisis in
Iraq. Instead, Foreign Minister Silvan
Shalom, a newcomer to the diplomatic
circuit, will make his inaugural appear-
ance in his new capacity before a Jewish
audience.
At press time, the speakers lineup was
not complete, but AIPAC officials say
keynoters for the Monday night ban-
quet — which was moved to a larger,
more secure location because of the
expected turnout — will be Sen. Bill
Frist, R-Tenn., the Senate majority
leader, and Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D.,
the top Democrat in the Senate.
Recently, Daschle and Frist got
together to urge the Bush administra-
tion to move forward quickly with the
requested aid package for Israel.

Aid Package

At press time, there were reports that
the big Israel aid package could be
delivered to Congress by the Bush
administration as early as Friday. White
House officials say the package is likely
to be sent to Capitol Hill "several days"
after the Iraq war begins.
Washington sources say the adminis-
tration will propose the full $8 billion
in loan guarantees to help boost the
battered Israeli economy, but only $1-2
billion of the $4 billion in military aid
requested by the Sharon government.
The aid will be part of a big supple-
mentary aid package intended to help
nations that have supported the U.S.
effort against Iraq, and to buy the loyal-
ty of a few. Capitol Hill observers say
that there is growing resistance in

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