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Will Israel Repay US Loans?

The front page article "Era of Automatic US Assistance to Israel May Be Drawing to Close," Feb. 10, is informative. However, I question the author's comment that in underwriting loans to Israel, "only a small percentage of the total would actually have to be budgeted to hedge against default."

While on the surface this may appear to be so, delving deeper into the history of our prior loans to Israel, whose economy is constantly teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, reveals that most of the loans have been either forgiven or turned into grants. Secretary of State James Baker recently alluded to this in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. An Associated Press article in the San Francisco Chronicle of Feb. 7, 1992, reports that after being urged by Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R) of New

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York, to go ahead with the guarantees, citing as support Israel's "excellent repayment record," Mr. Baker responded, "Generally speaking, that is because we appropriate the money up here with which to repay ourselves."

We should urge our legislators not to give Israel more funds which will be used to build settlements, on forcibly expropriated land, contrary to US policy. Paul Marthaler, Oakland, Calif. Observing the situation in Iraq

The author of the article Why Are You Doing This to Us? Feb. 10, deserves the world's gratitude for her brave attempt to enlighten our nation on the effects of the Gulf war.

This article brings home to the reader, through the descriptions of the author's tour through Baghdad and Karabala, the devastation and suffering of the people in these areas a year later and their unanswerable lament: "Why?" Mary Burg Whitcomb, Somerset, Calif.

As both a soldier and a civilian involved in Middle Eastern studies since 1966, including eight years of residence, I find this article soporific.

The author extols the energy and drive of the Iraqis to repair the war damage. Hardly something that would be seen in a society starving to death as she claims. Also, if the sanctions are not stopping all the equipment to repair bridges, etc., why is there insufficient food? The author couldn't find one Iraqi to admit Saddam Hussein was to blame. How many Shiites and Kurds did she talk with?

I am convinced that we could best help the Middle East by producing more scholars who do not blame all the ills of that region on colonialism, Zionism, or some CIA plot. Norvell B. De Atkine, Fayetteville, N.C.

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