Solarz was, I suspect, primarily for himself but there is no question that he openly and proudly served as an agent for Israel during his long career in Congress, Representing Brooklyn in 1980, Solarz sent a several page newsletter to his Jewish constituents headlined “Delivering for Israel,” in which he boasted how he was able to obtain an additional $660 million in aid for Israel under difficult circumstances. “It is a story,” in Solarz’s own words, “of how legislative maneuvering and political persistence managed to prevail over fiscal constraints and bureaucratic resistance.”
“We also gently suggested to the Secretary Cyrus Vance that we were prepared to take the fight for increase in aid to the floor of Congress. That it might put the [Carter] administration in an election year in a bad light with some of its most important constituencies if it would be seen to be opposing in an effort to help Israel.”
Shortly thereafter, Secretary Vance [said] the administration had decided to recommend an increase of from $1 billion to $1.2 billion in additional military assistance, but to keep at the same level — $785 million — the amount of economic assistance for Israel.
Not content with that, Solarz approached Lee Hamilton, Chair of the Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East and convinced him to raise the military aid by another $200 million to $1.4 billion “and also to convert the existing $785 million in economic aid–two thirds of which were supposed to be distributed on a grant basis and the remaining third on a loan basis–into a grant. In practical terms this mean that Israel would be relieved of its obligation to repay the US $260 million and would be receiving all of our economic assistance free and clear.”
What were the “fiscal restraints?” Solarz acknowledged that it was “a time of double digit inflation, with all sorts of domestic programs facing severe cutbacks in spending.” After describing the ins and outs of his successful maneuvering, he reminded his constituents of his devotion to Israel:
“When I was first elected to Congress six years ago (1974) I deliberately sought an assignment on the Foreign Affairs Committee precisely because I wanted to be in a position to be helpful to Israel… it is only the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House, and the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate who are really in a position to make a difference where it counts – in the area of foreign aid upon which Israel is so dependent.”
I am sure that Sen. Schumer, whose commitment to Israel is no less than was Stephens, must have applauded that statement.
Posted on November 30th, 2010 9:15pm