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Jewish-Americans and loan guarantees

In response to President Bush's call for Congress to postpone Israel's request for $10 billion in US loan guarantees, pro-Israel groups have launched a major campaign for unconditional and immediate US aid. Often such groups have spoken in the name of Americans of the Jewish faith and in the name of the Jewish faith itself.The fact is, however, that the question of loan guarantees for Israel, or any other foreign state, is a political and not a religious question. By confusing religion and politics, some within the Jewish community have done a disservice to the mandate they have received from their members. That mandate, of course, is to pursue religious and not political ends. American Jews differ on the question of loan guarantees to Israel. Some American Jews, and many Israelis as well, have argued that unlimited US aid "with no strings attached" has encouraged Israeli intransigence with regard to the peace process and the settlements question. In addition they feel this aid has postponed the need for dramatic economic reform. Others disagree. They argue that humanitarian aid for Russian immigrants should not be confused with the Middle East peace process and the question of settlements. We at The American Council for Judaism have maintained that it is God, not the State of Israel, which is central to Judaism, and that all too often Middle East politics have been permitted to corrupt the Jewish religious tradition. Unlike those who claim to speak for all Jews, however, we speak only for our own members - though we suspect many American Jews share our views. Alan V. Stone, Alexandria, Va., President, The American Council for Judaism

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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