Texas Jewish Post (Fort Worth, Tex.), Vol. 47, No. 31, Ed. 1 Thursday, August 5, 1993 Page: 4 of 24
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Opinion 4 TEXAS JEWISH post, Thursday, Augusts, 1993-iN our *tth yeari
Syria Statement: Policy or
Was it policy, or was it a gaffe?
That's the question pro-Israel ac-
tivists here are asking in the wake
of last week's controversial presi-
dential response to the flare up of
violence in Lebanon.
In his early statements. President
Bill Clinton called on Israel and the
Hezbollah guerrillas to call a halt to
the escalating violence; in the same
breath, he praised Syrian “re-
The only problem with that, as
Jewish legislators were quick to
point out, is that Hezbollah would
not be much of a fighting force
without help from Syria, which fa-
cilitates the easy flow of arms from
the “Party of God’s" primary back-
ers, the militant Islamic govern-
ment of Iran.
Jewish leaders spent a frantic
few days trying to educate the White
House on just that point.
Jewish groups stressed that
Syria's indirect role in the new
round of violence represented a
serious threat to the peace process,
and that any perceived American
hit towards Damascus would un-
dercut the Rabin government's ef-
forts to hold together the pro-nego-
tiations consensus in Israel.
The president heard much the
same message from some State
Deportment officials, who worried
that his praise of Syria would be
misunderstood throughout the Mid-
Major American Jewish Organiza-
tions. “The administration has made
it clear that the efforts of the Jewish
community had a direct impact on
the president’s understanding of
the effect of the words he used in
regard to Syria."
“There was alarm at first," said
the leader of another Jewish group.
“But by the end of the week, we
we’re pretty certain that the
president's comments represented
more of a gaffe than a change of
policy; we were successful in fur-
thering the president’s education
of these topics, and we found the
administration very responsive to
Lebanon Fighting: Bad News
Last week’s military action in
Lebanon doesn’t bode well for the
Boeing aircraft company.
In June, a group of pro-Israel
House members circulated a letter
objecting to the sale of Boeing 737
passenger jets and General Electric
engines to the national airline of
Their argument about the risks
of selling such “dual use" tech-
nologies to the militant Islamic
government in Teheran did not gen-
erate much enthusiasm in the ad-
ministration, where preserving jobs
in the endangered aerospace indus-
try appeared to be a more important
By the end of the week, Jewish
leaders privately expressed satis-
faction that the White House had
learned a few lessons from the inci-
“The White House has been in
constant communication with us
since this began,” said Malcolm
Hoenlein, executive vice chair of
the Conference of Presidents of
But critics of the sale received a
boost from last week's testimony
by Central Intelligence Director R.
James Woolsey, who revealed that
some of the weapons being used by
Hezbollah guerrillas were shipped
from Iran to Syria—using Boeing
aircraft owned by Iran Air.
As recently as two weeks before
the fighting erupted in Lebanon,
Iranian commercial 747s were seen
unloading weapons, including the
sophisticated Sagger anti-tank mis-
siles that have alarmed Israeli mili-
Early this week, the same four
legislators—Rep. Charles Schumer
(D-N.Y ), Rep. Peter Deutsch (D-
Fla), Rep Ron Dell urns (D-Calif.)
and Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ.) —
fired off another letter to the presi-
dent, using diplomatic language to
convey one basic point: “We told
A decision is expected on the
737 sale sometime in the next few
By James David Baser
TJP Washington Correspondent
AIPAC Woes Continue:
The American Israel Public Af-
fairs Committee (AIPAC) contin-
ues efforts to right itself after the
forced resignation of its longtime
executive director Tom Dine, and
in the face of a worrisome financial
AIPAC, according to knowledge-
able sources here, needs to slash
spending by some $100,000 per
month. Last week, AIPACs pro-
fessional leadership and some key
lay leaders met in intensive budget
sessions, looking for places to cut
that would not diminish the group’s
presence on Capitol Hill or weaken
its extensive grass roots network
Already, some pink slips have
been issued. According to sources
here, eight to twelve positions are
being eliminated—some by lay-
offs, some through attrition.
Layoffs will come in a number of
AIPAC departments, affecting sup-
port personnel and mid-level pro-
fessional staffers. AIPAC insiders
indicate that there will be no cuts in
the legislative department.
Some AIPAC backers insist that
the changes will produce a leaner,
more effective pro-Israel lobby.
“We’re looking very carefully at
our financial resources, and acting
in a prudent way,” said AIPAC
president Steven Grossman. “Our
officers, along with senior staff,
are engaged in a complete review
of the staffing with a view to pru-
Several congressional sources
suggest that AIPAC’s recent lob-
bying—including its successful
efforts to restore full funding for a
refugee assistance package for
Israel—suggest an organization
that is coping effectively with a
daunting series of setbacks.
But others worry that a combina-
tion of factors—including Dine’s
ouster, the fact that AIPAC’s top
lobbyist. Ester Kurz, is on tempo-
rary leave and the group’s financial
problems—could make it more dif-
ficult for AIPAC to marshal suffi-
cient resources for the tough legis-
lative battles ahead.
Quiet Fight on Foreign Aid:
When it comes to passing a
foreign aid package complete with
Israel’s annual $3.2 billion allot-
ment, the game isn’t over until the
president signs his name on a final
Jewish forces on Capitol Hill
were reminded of that fact in recent
days as they were drawn into a
quiet but important tussle over the
Senate’s version of the aid bill.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), al-
ways a wild card when it comes to
foreign aid, recently sent out strong
signals that he would try to elimi-
nate the “earmarks’’ that have tra-
ditionally protected high levels of
aid to Israel and Egypt from across-
Pro-Israel forces quickly cranked
up their machinery in response to
the challenge. Jewish activists
around the country called key mem-
bers of Leahy’s Appropriations
Subcommittee on Foreign Opera-
tions, which will mark up the aid
bill after the August recess. The
American Israel Public Affairs
Committee (AIPAC) did a full-
court press on the committee,
backed by a number of other Jew-
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.),
a member of the committee, met
with Leahy and made the argument
that axing the earmarks would dis-
rupt the fragile Mideast peace talks.
The administration also weighed
in on the side of retaining the ear-
marks, according to sources here.
Early this week, there were indi-
cations that Leahy had backed off—
at least for now.
But pro-Israel forces are taking
no chances; they plan to use the
August recess to step up the pres-
sure on the unpredictable Leahy.
“We’re not declaring victory,”
said an official with a major pro-
Israel group. “A lot can happen
between now and September ”
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Wisch, J. A. & Wisch, Rene. Texas Jewish Post (Fort Worth, Tex.), Vol. 47, No. 31, Ed. 1 Thursday, August 5, 1993, newspaper, August 5, 1993; Fort Worth, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth755118/m1/4/: accessed March 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; .