The American Conservative
Ariel Sharon's Shakedown
by Pat Buchanan
"Tough Love for United," exclaimed the Wall Street
Journal, as it congratulated Uncle Sam for stiffing
United Airlines? plea for $1.8 billion in loan
guarantees. Rebuffed, the beloved old airline had to
declare its bankruptcy.
It's all for the best, the Journal assures us, "maybe
this tough love rejection will start a new government
precedent, or at least we can dream." Fine. May we now
expect the Journal to call on Mr. Bush to reject the
$10 billion in loan guarantees demanded by Ariel
Sharon? Don't bet on it.
Yet, Sharon's demand is astonishing in its audacity.
California and New York face huge budget shortfalls.
The U.S. Treasury is running a deficit nearing $200
billion. Yet, Sharon, who ignored Bush when the
president publicly called on him to pull his army out
of West Bank cities, is demanding that U.S. taxpayers
fork over $4 billion in new military aid and agree to
pay off $10 billion Israel intends to borrow should
Israel decide to default.
Why should we do this? What does America get out of
this? What has all the $100 billion in aid we have
shoveled out to Israel bought us, other than
ingratitude and the enmity of the Arab world?
While Israel has a first-rate military, it is of no
use to us. In Desert Storm, Bush I had to bribe
Yitzhak Shamir with $5 billion in aid, $400 million in
loan guarantees, and Patriot missiles to stay out of
the fighting, lest Israeli intervention dynamite our
coalition. Journalists and diplomats alike, returning
from the Mideast, attest that our almost-blind support
of Israel is a major cause of the anti-Americanism
that is sweeping the Islamic world.
When the price of Israel could be paid in dollars
alone, $3 billion a year, most members of Congress
chose to pony up rather than face the retribution of
an Israeli Lobby that has in its trophy case the
scalps of two chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, J. William Fulbright and Chuck Percy.
But now the price of the Israeli connection has begun
to rise. U.S. weapons technology given to Israel has
been sold to China. Only direct U.S. intervention
prevented Israel from selling Beijing AWACS
technology. The Patriot missile, the Phoenix
air-to-air missile, the Lavi fighter, based on the
F-16, have all been sold to Beijing.
In the Reagan era, Israel had the loathsome Jonathan
Pollard, whom it suborned into treason, loot our
innermost national security secrets, some of which are
believed to have been traded to Moscow. Israel refuses
to return the roomful of documents it stole and has
pressured presidents for Pollard's release so he can
be brought to Israel where he is a hero.
Now Mr. Sharon has handed us Israel's bill for
abstaining from war with Iraq while President Bush is
at maximum political risk. Not since 1957, when Dwight
Eisenhower ordered Ben-Gurion to get his army out of
Sinai, has a U.S. president faced down an Israeli
To his credit, the president's father tried. In 1991,
having driven Iraq out of Kuwait, with his approval at
70 percent, Bush I was asked by Shamir for $10 billion
in loan guarantees to bring a million Russian Jews to
Israel. Bush assented, on one condition: Shamir must
not settle them on the West Bank and must stop
Shamir rejected the condition, and the Lobby went to
work. Bush warned he would veto the guarantees. An
Israeli minister called him an anti-Semite. While
Shamir was defeated in June of 1992, Bush, his own
election in trouble, eventually gave in and gave
Israel the loan guarantees. Who was the Housing
Minister who announced new settlements even as Bush I
was denouncing them? Ariel Sharon.
Sharon now wants to repeat Israel's victory over
Bush's father by making the son give Israel $4 billion
in hardware and $10 billion in new loan guarantees as
Sharon's price for permitting us to crush Iraq while
he holds America's coat. It is a shakedown: Ariel
Sharon's big sting
What should Bush do? Tell Sharon the loan guarantees
will not even be taken up until he begins to dismantle
all the settlements he has begun to build since George
W. took office. And if Sharon attempts to roll him in
Congress, he, Bush, will go to the country and roll
In short, stand up for U.S. national interests and
declare America's independence. Israel may be our ally
in the war on terror. We are not Israel's ally in its
war on the Palestinians. Our commitment is to Israel's
security, not its settlements, which are the cause of
Sharon's opponent in January's election, General
Mitzna, has agreed to negotiate with the Palestinians
on the basis of Camp David and to begin withdrawals
from the West Bank and Gaza. If Israeli politicians
can stand up to Sharon, why cannot U.S. presidents? If
members of the Knesset can refuse to follow the
suicidal path of Sharon & Netanyahu, why is Congress so cowardly?