US Loan Guarantees and Israeli Immigrants

You batted zero-for-three in the front-page photo caption with the article "With Syrian Consent to US Plan for Peace, Baker Heads to Israel," July 18. The caption reads: "Israel wants a $10 million loan from the US to house Jewish immigrants in the occupied territories."First, Israel is not seeking a loan, but a loan guarantee, which requires no actual disbursement of US funds. And with Israel's exemplary record of debt repayment, the risk of Israeli default is virtually nil. Second, the loan guarantees, which would permit Israel to borrow on the private market, are sought to settle immigrants not in the disputed territories, but rather within Israel proper. This reflects an agreement between Israel and Washington. Moreover, Israel does not mandate where new arrivals should live, as the caption implies, but rather allows them freedom of choice. And finally, the requested loan guarantees will be for $10 billion over a five-year period. This is but a part of the cost Israel is expected to incur in the coming years as it seeks to absorb hundreds of thousands of Jews fleeing uncertain conditions in Ethiopia, the USSR, and other countries in flux. In doing so, Israel is fulfilling its raison d'etre as a haven for all Jews, but the burden is immense. Israel is trying its best to cope, but needs help. Loan guarantees are one important way to do so. David A. Harris, New York, American Jewish Committee

Tibet overlooked in MFN debate The editorial "The China Vote," July 18, looks forward to a presidential veto of the House vote to stop most-favored-nation trading status for China by stating, "The best way to support liberal reform in China is to keep alive China's contact and exchanges with the West." This overlooks one very important fact - the Chinese occupation of Tibet. In 1960, an impartial inquiry by the International Commission of Jurists concluded that Tibet had been a fully sovereign state and that China was guilty of "the gravest crimes of which any person or nation can be accused: the intent to destroy, in whole or part, a nation, ethnic, racial, or religious group as such that is, genocide. Since 1960 the situation the Tibetan people find themselves in has only worsened. The Chinese have a right to govern their own people, but they have clearly broken international law by occupying Tibet. Joel G. Prunty, Green Bay, Wis.

Is MFN status the only way to keep China in contact with the West? The editorial admits that the White House position "says too little about democratic rights," and that the few changes made by China are not enough. The House of Representatives has voted against the MFN status. Do we have to deal with extremes: either a loud "in-your-face" policy, or an abject MFN status? The carnage in Tiananmen Square had barely ended when we dispatched our envoys to assure China that we were still friends. Why all this kowtowing? Is the "productive relationship" in this case big enough to justify our cringing demeanor? Edmund Alexander, Harwich, Mass.

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