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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

March 10, 2003

Bi-partisan support for Israel

Senators Daschle & Frist write to Pres. Bush on aid for Israel

Notice how they link America's war on terror with keeping Israel strong.

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing in relation to our Nation's ongoing efforts in the war against terrorism. Last week, you laid out an ambitious goal that we all share -to build a democratic and peaceful Iraq that can in turn lead to a stable and democratic Middle East. We commend you for that vision and want to work with you to take the necessary steps to ensure it becomes a reality.

Securing Israel is also a vital first step in realizing that vision. We are deeply concerned for the economic and military crisis Israel is currently facing. As you know, these challenges are unprecedented, a severe economic recession, caused in large part by the campaign of violence and terror being waged against it. Now, with the possibility of conflict with Iraq, Israel is confronted with skyrocketing defense expenditures to ensure that the Israeli people are not once again made innocent victims of attack by Saddam Hussein. We are concerned that, if not addressed soon, these issues could severely affect Israel's short and long term security.

Israel' s per capita GDP has fallen by six percent in the last two years-a decline virtually unprecedented in any western industrialized democracy since the end of World War II. At the same time, its defense spending now exceeds 11 percent of its GDP-the highest of any democracy. To keep its forces at the necessary level of readiness while preparing to meet homeland security needs of a possible unconventional weapons attack from Iraq, Israel is in danger of mortgaging its future qualitative military edge. We cannot allow this to happen.

In the past, the United States has always been there to help Israel get through tough economic and military challenges-and grow stronger in the process: in the 1980s, when Israel' faced triple digit inflation, immediately after the Gulf War, and in the early 1990s, as Israel confronted the enormous challenge of absorbing hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

The situation Israel faces today is even more serious, but with American help, can be overcome. Additional loan guarantees-which cost the American taxpayer nothing-can help jump start Israel' s economy, especially if accompanied by further economic restructuring. At least as important, the provision of additional military assistance now can help assure Israel's security into the future, and ensure that we not allow any margin of error to a key American ally confronting both terrorism and the threat of attack from unconventional weapons.

We will work closely with you in the months ahead to address our country's priorities at home and abroad. As we take the steps necessary to secure the United States, and as other states in the Middle East look to the United States to help provide for their security, we are confident that you will view sympathetically Israel's request for urgent economic and military assistance and include it in the upcoming emergency appropriations.

Sincerely yours,
Senator Tom Daschle, Democratic Leader
Senator Bill Frist, M.D., Majority Lead