- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 30, 2002

U.S. loans to Israel

The article "Israel seeks military aid increase" (Nation, Wednesday), which tells of an Israeli request for loans and grants totaling $14 billion, mentions that Israel never has defaulted on a loan.

Friends of Israel never tire of saying that Israel has never defaulted on repayment of a U.S. government loan, but it would be equally accurate to say Israel has never been required to repay a U.S. government loan.

The truth is complex, and designed to be so by those who seek to conceal it from the U.S. taxpayer.

Most U.S. loans to Israel are forgiven, and many were made with the explicit understanding that they would be forgiven before Israel was required to repay them. By disguising as loans what in fact were grants, cooperating members of Congress effectively exempted Israel from the U.S. oversight that would have accompanied the loans.

Initially, Israel was expected to pay the interest and eventually begin repaying the principal on loans. But the so-called Cranston Amendment, which has been attached by Congress to every foreign-aid appropriation since 1983, provides that economic aid to Israel will never dip below the amount Israel is required to pay on its outstanding loans. In short, whether U.S. aid is extended as grants or loans to Israel, it never returns to the U.S. Treasury. The total since 1949 exceeds $84 billion.

Saying that Israel never has defaulted on a loan is a partial truth, but part of it is quietly suppressed.


ED TONER

Brick, N.J.

Article on Australia, immigration 'a disgrace'

Tuesday's article describing Australia's immigration policy and approach to the would-be illegal immigrants on board the freighter Tampa is a disgrace ("Australia policies kept out terrorists," Page 1).

Australia's immigration program is one of the most generous in the world. Each year, Australia welcomes more than 110,000 new arrivals, including up to 12,000 people admitted on humanitarian grounds. Australia has become home to more than 600,000 refugees since World War II. On a per capita basis, Australia is second only to Canada in the number of refugees accepted for resettlement.

People who arrive in Australia illegally are detained for identity, health and character checks. Assessments are made in the overwhelming majority of cases within 18 weeks, and people with genuine claims for protection are released immediately into the community.


MICHAEL THAWLEY

Ambassador

Embassy of Australia

Washington

Robertson right on Islam

Thanks for the candid interview with Pat Robertson ("Robertson pleads for scrutiny of Koran," Page 1, Tuesday), which finally put into print some politically incorrect, but nonetheless true, statements about Islam.

Last May, I visited the same clinic in Sidon, Lebanon where nursing assistant Bonnie Weatherall was killed last week. This clinic provides prenatal and OB/GYN care to poor Muslims. Yes, it is done in the name of Jesus Christ to reach those that do not have any or little knowledge of Christianity. Once presented with this information, the patient has the choice to accept Christianity, learn more about it or reject it end of discussion. Regardless of her answer, she still is given care. Jesus first cared for a person's physical needs, then their spiritual ones. Such is the case here.

But look at the view of those Muslims who killed Bonnie. They are taught in the Koran and the Sharia, or Muslim code of law, that killing an infidel (one who does not believe inIslam) is demanded by Allah himself, granting the killer heavenly bliss in the afterlife. Such infidels are to be given the chance to convert to Islam first, but if not converted, they are to be beheaded. These are Mohammad's very words. But is this information being represented in the press? No, because it is not politically correct to say such things in public when your country is courting possible marginal allies in a war.

Pat Robertson is not saying, "Let's go kill some Muslims!" Rather, he is trying to set the record straight on Islam.


VINCENT DAVIS

Greencastle, Pa.

Reconciling telecom with free-market principles

James K. Glassman has built a successful career as a conservative opponent of big government and a champion of the American free-enterprise system. Yet in one of the most critical 21st century markets telecommunications Mr. Glassman favors the unilateral application of stifling, monopoly-era rules onto local phone companies that he freely admits today "face real competition" ("Telecom waffling at the FCC helm," Commentary, Tuesday).

While the positions espoused by Mr. Glassman's column fly in the face of free-market principles, at every turn they happen to reflect the party line of AT&T, which sponsors the Web site he hosts, techcentralstation.com. Readers can decide whether that is a coincidence.

Minus the rhetoric, what does Mr. Glassman propose? Big government for local phone service, and a deregulated environment for his cable pals in the most critical market in which we both compete broadband. He wants the government, through discriminatory rules, to determine who wins, loses and invests in the 21st century information economy.

What are the rules he wants local phone companies of all sizes (not just the Bells) to face? Rules that force them alone to share their investments with government-manufactured "competitors," which are under no obligation to ever invest in networks of their own and that subsist solely because the government forces incumbent phone companies to sell them wholesale services at an often substantial loss. A true free-market champion would question the cost to our economy.

According to leading investment analysts, it will result in the loss of 600,000 U.S. jobs and $1.2 trillion in investor capital in the past two years alone. Mr. Glassman's retort? This economic catastrophe is all in our "imagination." Surely this will come as a relief to the hundreds of thousands of men and women who thought they lost their jobs but merely have been the victims of mass hallucination.

There is nothing AT&T would resist more than being subject to these same rules. Its former chief executive officer is on-record arguing passionately against their application to his company. Yet, AT&T and its associates don't so much as blush when they insist that their competitors should remain mired in this fundamentally deflationary approach. Local phone companies, to their credit, have not argued for an eye for an eye. All we ask is for equal treatment from our government: The same regulatory environment as our competitors and an equal opportunity to succeed on our own merits rather than fail by government fiat.

What Mr. Glassman characterizes as a hasty decision at the Federal Communications Commission has in fact been deliberated for nearly a year. Throughout the debate, FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell has consistently espoused free-market principles. By arguing that the government should micro-manage, through outdated regulations, only the local phone companies, while ignoring the competitive inroads from cable, wireless and satellite competitors, Mr. Glassman can hardly say the same.

His intellectual waffling suggests once again that there's no such thing as a free lunch. Unfortunately, this one comes at the cost of his free-market credentials.


WALTER B. MCCORMICK JR.

President and chief executive officer

U.S. Telecom Association

Washington


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