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

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