In 1991 President George H.W. Bush held up a $10 billion loan guarantee to Israel over Israel’s continued settlement building. Bush won the battle, but eventually lost the war, a lesson that politicians have remembered ever since…
By Alison Weir
In its article, “How ‘lonely little’ George H.W. Bush changed the US-Israel relationship,” the Times of Israel reports: “The 41st president beat AIPAC, but lost 24% of his Jewish backing after confronting Israel over the settlements; it’s a lesson US leaders since have taken to heart.”
The Israeli newspaper states that Bush “made clear the cost of an American president waging a political fight against the vast coalition of pro-Israel lobbying groups. In doing so, he exposed the limits of what the world’s most powerful man can do” when opposed by Israel partisans.
In 1991 Bush told Israel that the U.S. would not give Israel $10 million in loan guarantees until Israel stopped building settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. (Settlements are illegal under international law.*)
Bush stated: “I think the American people will strongly support me in this. I’m going to fight for it because I think this is what the American people want, and I’m going to do absolutely everything I can to back those members of the United States Congress who are forward-looking in their desire to see peace.”
The Israel lobby, especially the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), was outraged.
AIPAC head Thomas Dine, 1991. Dine said Bush’s action would be “a day that lives in infamy for the American pro-Israeli community.”
Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper reports: “Thomas Dine, the then-executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, declared that September 12 – when Bush announced he would tell Congress that the request for the guarantees must be deferred for 120 days – would be ‘a day that lives in infamy for the American pro-Israeli community.’
“Dine lamented that ‘this president did what no other president has done: He held a special press conference on this issue and challenged not just congressional efforts to proceed with the guarantees legislation,