Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 1992, Page 32

Mythinformation Observed

Quatsch Watch

(The British say rubbish, Americans say nonsense, we won't print what the French say, and Germans say Quatsch, which rhymes with watch, which is what this column does.)

Foreign Aid and Loan Guarantees

QUATSCH: "The desire to punish Israel is so strong the administration is prepared to sacrifice the foreign aid bill and its CIS (former Soviet Republics) aid program to stop the guarantees from going forward without conditions."
-Near East Report, March 9, 1992

WATCH: This statement from the weekly newsletter of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Israel's lobby in Washington, DC, stands truth on its head. Pro-Israel senators indicated they would attach a provision granting Israel $10 billion in unconditional loan guarantees (which President George Bush had said he would veto) to the 1992 foreign aid bill (which Bush wanted passed), thus holding U.S. aid to Russia and the other states of the former Soviet Union hostage to loan guarantees for Israel. Secretary of State James Baker told the senators if they did so President Bush would "go public" in a foreign policy speech scheduled for the next day and tell the American people exactly what Israel's friends in Congress were doing. The pro-Israel senators backed down. It was the pro-Israel members of Congress who tried to blackmail President Bush into granting unconditional loan guarantees for Israel (over and above the more than $3 billion already appropriated for 1992) by threatening to block all new U.S. foreign aid worldwide unless he did so, and not the other way around.

Loan Guarantees for Iraq

QUATSCH: "Even Saddam Hussain received unconditional loan guarantees from the Bush administration up until his invasion of Kuwait."
-Near East Report, March 9, 1992

WATCH: U.S. loan guarantees to Iraq before the Gulf war were for the purchase of U.S. wheat. Like all major exporting countries, the U.S. government routinely provides guarantees to assure exporters that they will be paid for U.S. goods they sell to foreign countries. Such guarantees tied to specific purchases of U.S. goods enable American manufacturers and farmers to compete in international markets and are designed to improve the U.S. balance of payments and provide jobs for Americans. They are in no way comparable with the $10 billion in unconditional loan guarantees demanded by Israel, to be spent where and how it sees fit.

Who Started Israel's Wars?

QUATSCH: "Israel is a democracy. Democracies cannot go to war without public support. Dictatorships can, and do. That is the root of Middle Eastern wars."
-Columnist A.M. Rosenthal, The New York Times, March 25, 1992

WATCH: Of Israel's five wars with the Arabs, three were initiated by Israel (1956, 1967, 1982), one was initiated by Egypt and Syria (1973), and there is disagreement on where and how the fighting began that lasted from 1947 to 1949. It broke out on a large scale after the U.N. voted to partition Palestine and well before the May 15, 1948 proclamation of the state of Israel and intervention on the same day by Egyptian, Jordanian and Iraqi military units. Whether or not Israel is a democracy in the Western sense is also questionable. It does not grant equal rights to its non-Jewish citizens, or any rights at all to non-Jews in the occupied areas. In any case, Mr. Rosenthal's implication that Israel did not start any of its wars is wrong. It is because he knows this that he chose deceptive language to give that impression without actually saying it.

Who Attacked Whom in 1967?

QUATSCH: "Israel did not seize the West Bank from Palestinians. Israel took it from Jordan in 1967, after Jordan attacked Israel."
-Columnist A.M. Rosenthal, The New York Times, March 25, 1992

WATCH: Israel attacked Egypt and Syria on June 5, 1967. Jordan was treaty-bound to come to their assistance in case of an Israeli attack. It did so on June 6, 1967. Mr. Rosenthal's tricky wording is designed to justify Israel's new (and unique) position that the U.N. Charter provision concerning the "inadmissability of the acquisition of territory by force" does not apply to the West Bank because it was taken from an "aggressor." In any case, it is indisputable that the 1967 war in which Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan, Gaza from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria was initiated by an Israeli surprise attack.

Will Israel Circle the Wagons?

QUATSCH: "Israel's election campaign is just getting under way. But knowing that they face hostility from not only Syria and the PLO, but also from George Bush and James Baker, Israelis may logically prefer a leader who will cling tenaciously to Israeli interests."
-The Wall Street Journal editorial, Feb. 6, 1992

WATCH: For years, Israel's apologists in the U.S. government and media have warned that if the U.S. cracks down on Israeli misuse of U.S. economic aid and violations of U.S. law concerning the use of American-supplied weapons, Israelis will only "circle the wagons" and become even more intransigent. The Bush administration now has put conditions on U.S. economic support for the first time since the Eisenhower administration achieved an Israeli withdrawal from Egypt's Sinai peninsula in 1957 by threatening economic measures. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has brought down his own government rather than comply with the U.S. conditions. Israel's June elections will establish whether the U.S.-Israeli relationship will become more cooperative or more hostile. In Secretary of State James Baker's words, "the choice is Israel's."

Are the Arabs Obstacles to Peace?

QUATSCH: "The United States has deeprooted disagreements with Arab policies and actions. The refusal of the Arabs to recognize Israel's right to exist, to eradicate terrorism, to end the boycott of United States companies doing business with Israel, to abandon their pursuit of dangerous and destabilizing weapons and the unwillingness of Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians to participate in the multilateral phase of the peace talks are a few of those issues. These are real obstacles to peace, which we ought not gloss over."
-Sen. Frank Lautenberg (R-NJ) in letter published by The New York Times on March 5, 1992

WATCH: There are 21 members of the League of Arab states. The League, through its adoption of the Fez principles of peace, has endorsed U.N. Security Council Resolution 242's land-for-peace formula which offers Arab acknowledgement of Israel's "right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries" in return for "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories seized in recent [1967] conflict." Nor can the terrorism and weapons of mass destruction charge fairly be leveled at more than three Arab states-Iraq, Libya and Syria. As for the boycott, Egypt has ended its boycott of Israel. Saudi Arabia and the Arab states which generally follow its policies informally offered through the U.S. government in 1991 to suspend the boycott of companies doing business with Israel in return for a suspension of Israeli settlement activity. Israeli Prime Minister Shamir refused the offer.

-RHC