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October 03, 2003 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-10-03

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

Washington Watch

May You and your Family

Penalty Postponed

Be Inscribed in the
Book of Life

U.S. delays loan guarantee cutbacks for Israel.

JAMES D. BESSER

This week, the Foundation for Ethnic
Understanding, with support from the
World Jewish Congress, formally opened
he Bush administration has
the Ethnic Congressional Caucus Office,
acted decisively on the issue
which will focus on bringing together
of penalizing Israel for settle-
members of the Jewish delegation with
ment activity, as required by
the Congressional Black Caucus, the
legislation earlier this year authorizing
Hispanic Caucus and the Asian Pacific
S9 billion in loan guarantees. The deci-
American Caucus.
sion: to do nothing, at least for the time
Rabbi Marc Schneier, founder and
being.
president of the foundation, said the
Despite the recent announcement that move was necessary because of "the
the State Department was invoking por-
changing demographics of Our country,
tions of the authorization legislation that
which have created a new political envi-
require deductions from the loan guar-
ronment in Washington."
antees for actions deemed contrary to
The African-American and Hispanic
U.S. interests, a State Department
communities, he said, may constitute
spokesman on Tuesday said a decision
over half the population within 50 years;
had been put off indefinitely.
the Asian-American community, increas-
The administration also put off any
ingly prosperous and active on the polit-
decision about whether to penalize Israel
ical front, are a rising force.
for portions of its new security fence
"If you survey the Jewish world and
encroaching into Palestinian territory, a
analyze many of the problems our peo-
major bone of contention between
ple are now facing, they are often found-
Washington and Jerusalem.
ed in changing demographics," Rabbi
Pro-Israel activists in Washington say
Schneier said.
the non-decision was a mixed blessing.
He cited the case of France, where a
Nobody was eager to see news stories
surging Moslem immigrant population
about Israel being assessed for settle-
has been a factor in rising anti-Semitism
ments— but by putting the decision off, — a change that France's Jewish corn-
the State Department can continue to
munity was ill pre-
use the threat of substantial cuts as lever-
pared for.
age in trying to alter the route of the
"We want to be
security fence.
proactive, to begin
. Politics may be a factor as well —
fostering dialogue
with the administration seeking big-tick-
and cooperation
et contributions from pro-Israel givers,
between ethnic
now may not be the most opportune
communities, so
time for slapping Israel with a big fine.
that unlike other
Schneier
A leading Jewish peace group was not
Jewish communi-
pleased with the decision. "We are dis-
ties around the
appointed the administration has not
world, we won't
met its legal obligation to report to
wake up in 50 years to find ourselves in
Congress about how much money it will a very difficult situation," he said. "It's
deduct from the loan guarantee package
wrong for us to forfeit our place at the
because of settlement spending, " said
table."
Lewis Roth, assistant executive director
Rabbi Schneier said he has had a "very
of Americans for Peace Now "We hope
positive response" from Jewish members
the administration will use the extra
of Congress, who have steadfastly resis-
time to give consideration to the report
ted creating a formal caucus, but who
putting the figure at $556 million annu-
get together periodically to discuss issues
ally."
of joint concern.
In addition to sponsoring joint pro-
Ethnic 0 ce
grams, the group's Washington staff will
With ethnic politics taking on new
urge Congress to convene hearings on
importance in the capital, two Jewish
race relations and facilitate meetings
groups have gotten together to open a
between members of the other ethnic
Washington office devoted to a single
caucuses and visiting Israeli officials.
job: promoting coalitions between
Rabbi Schneier said he will promote
Jewish members of Congress and the
the idea that good ethnic relations
emerging ethnic caucuses.
ETHNIC on page 26

Washington Correspondent

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