Legislator Charges That Arab Oil-producing Countries Have ‘extorted’ Billions from the U.S.

Rep. Clarence Long (D. Md.), who has been the target of a radio commercial by an Arab group for his leadership in providing U.S. aid to Israel, charged that the Arab oil-producing countries have “extorted” billions from the U.S.

“Isn’t it ironic that Arab-affiliated organizations are complaining when the OPEC nations have extorted $335 billion in additional revenues from American consumers as a result of the oil price increases begun in 1973, ” Long said as he received the Emunah Women of America’s “Man of the Year” award in New York last Wednesday night. “That’s almost twice as much as the current U.S. deficit.”

Long said the radio commercial, sponsored by the National Association of Arab Americans (NAAA) which attacks U.S. aid for Israel and Long for supporting this aid, “is a hate campaign.”

The 74-year-old chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on foreign operations, has been a leading proponent in Congress of providing aid to Israel. “Our support of Israel is not only based on moral and democratic grounds, but also on the fact that Israel is our key strategic asset in the Middle East, ” Long told the Emunah Women.

AN ANTI-ISRAEL RADIO COMMERCIAL

The NAAA commercial was refused by radio stations in Baltimore where Long’s Congressional district is located, but was played by WTOP-AM in Washington, D.C.

“At a time when there’s less for all Americans, when unemployment affects millions, when we are suffering the tragic effects of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, is it fair for Congress to give $2.6 billion to Israel?” the commercial asks. It answers its own question: “This is not fair; this is outrageous. Congressman Clarence Long is at the forefront of this ‘more for Israel’ campaign.” The commercial asks listeners to protest to Long.

A spokesman for Long said he was concerned about the commercial. He said there were reports that it will be played throughout the country and was thus being heavily financed. Redistricting in 1982 removed most of the Jewish-populated areas from Long’s district. Meanwhile, after playing the NAAA tape for several days, WTOP broadcast a statement saying that a response could be given by legitimate groups that objected to the views expressed. This was done by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

CAMERA president Win Meiselman, who made the reply, noted that Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger has asserted that foreign aid is not “a give-away” but part of U.S. defense policy. “Aid to Israel is less than one percent of the U.S. defense budget,” Meiselman said. “Given the strategic importance of the Middle East and Israel’s military effectiveness, this is a small price to pay.” She added that while Israel receives U.S. military aid, “the Israelis defend themselves.”

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