New York — The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has applauded the mounting level of opposition within the Congress to the Bush Administration’s proposed $20 billion arms package for Saudi Arabia, a state which promotes jihadist violence against Israel, the United States and the West, lavishes funds on Islamist institutions disseminating hatred of Jews and other non-Muslims and rewards suicide bombers who murder Israelis. Two of the 2008 presidential candidates, Senator John Edwards (D-NC) and Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) have declared their opposition to the sale and 114 House Members have signed a letter vowing to support a resolution that would scuttle the sale (New York Sun, August 3).
The arms package is expected to include Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) — a low-cost guidance kit that converts existing unguided free-fall bombs into accurately guided “smart” weapons as well as satellite-guided bombs, which Israeli defense establishment officials have warned that these have the potential to constitute a strategic threat to the state of Israel ( Jerusalem Post, July 30). Congressmen Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Robert Wexler (D-FL) have already publicly condemned Saudi Arabia as a sponsor of terrorism unworthy of American military support and promised to introduce legislation to oppose it as soon as Congress is officially notified. Congressmen Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Mike Ferguson (R-NJ) have also expressed deep concern about the proposed package and Congressman Roy Blunt (R-MO) has indicated that Congressional opposition will make passage of the bill a challenge for the Administration. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), has declared that “the Administration must do more to address the Saudi government’s propagation of Islamic extremism, violation of basic human rights, and support for elements of the Iraqi insurgency.”
Dr. Mordechai Nisan, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has recently written in a monograph, Saudi Arabia’s jihad in the Middle East and the World: Implications for the US and Thoughts for American Policy, that “It is Saudi Arabia, more than Iran or al-Qaeda, which is the primary promoter of global jihad in our times … Israel … is a target of relentless Saudi ambitions … A revision of Washington’s traditional policy towards Saudi Arabia is the issue to be considered.”
Criticism of the proposed Saudi arms deal from legislators:
- Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD): “I have deep concerns about the president’s proposal to sell $20 billion in new arms to Saudi Arabia. It is not good policy to provide more arms to regimes that may not be stable or that may not be able to maintain control of the military arms that are sold to them” ( Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 31).
- Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY): “The folly of this arms deal is beyond belief. Saudi Arabia is the no. 1 exporter of terrorism in the world today. They are not our friends. We cannot trust how they will use their arms. … We don’t have to give them high-tech weapons which may be turned against our friends or us” ( New York Sun, July 30).
- Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY): “They are paying the bills for the suicide bombers. It is not an accident that 15 of the 19 suicide attackers here on our soil were Saudis … looking for the moderate Arab state might be akin to looking for the unicorn” ( New York Sun, July 30); “The reputation of the Saudis has taken quite a beating since 9/11, and despite the fact that the administration has done everything to portray them as part of the moderate Arab world, members of Congress of both parties are increasingly skeptical” ( Washington Post, July 29). “Saudi Arabia should not get an ounce of military support from the U.S until they unequivocally denounce terrorism and take tangible steps to prevent it.” (Press release, May 24).
- Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee: “This is not a sale at Macy’s that you go in and buy a bunch of stuff. There are a complex set of relationships behind it, and while it’s very desirable to have the Saudis and others recognize that Iran is an existential threat, there is also a degree of responsibility that they have to show on broader U.S. foreign policy interests” (Washington Post, July 29).
- Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): “We have grave reservations that this arms sale to Saudi Arabia could allow weapons to slip into terrorist hands” (New York Sun, July 30).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA praises those members of Congress of both parties, growing rapidly in number, who have quickly recorded their opposition to this arms sale to an anti-Semitic, racist, jihad-promoting regime which remains an enemy of Israel. We urge more Senators and House members to join the fight to prevent this counter-productive and misconceived arms package.
“The Bush Administration should not be doing this. To sell massive quantities of sophisticated arms to a regime that is helping the terrorists in Iraq, propagates the poisonous religious ideology of jihad that nourishes al-Qaeda, funds Hamas murderers, represses basic human rights, including those of women and freedom of worship, is neither wise nor principled. Saudi Arabia has not assisted America in fighting jihadists and bringing peace and democracy to the Middle East — President Bush’s declared primary goals — which alone would merit any American support of this type. Saudi Arabia is presently not at risk of invasion from anyone so this arms sale does nothing to stabilize the Middle East. In fact, the supply of such arms might well endanger Israel and contribute to the insecurity of the region, something that no-one would have thought would be the result of a decision by a president who has described himself as the ‘best friend Israel ever had.’
“President Bush once declared, rightly, that other states would have to decide whether they are fighting terror or supporting terror. Today, unfortunately, he would have to say that either you are fighting terror or you are supporting terror, in which case the U.S. will sell you billions of dollars’ worth of arms. This is a repudiation of the Bush doctrine. If implemented, this arms deal will fail to stabilize the Middle East, allow the Saudis to continue supporting jihad without consequences, put off the prospect of peace and do nothing to bring about an end to Arab/Islamist terror against Israel. We urge the Bush Administration to withdraw this bill and Congress to oppose it if they don’t.”