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March 08, 1985 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-03-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.



Friday, March 8, 1985

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were stopgap measures used
largely as Substitutes for true
economic reform. "But the
people don't want to be bribed
any more and the government
is finally learning that."
But, according to Atashi,
consumer habits must also
change before any govern-
ment measures will be effec-
tive. "We do not even buy our
own commodities — the ones
that we produce," he told the
audience. "We have the best
beer (Maccabi) in the world.
But if you go and check the
refrigerator of any family, you
always find imported beer. Or
an imported refrigerator."
Atashi and the other Shinui
MKs (Amnon Rubinstein and
Mordechai Virshubski) are
strong supporters of the unity .
government. When negotia-
tions began after last July's
election, Shinui aligned itself
with the Labor Party, but not
without some reservations,
according to Atashi.
"We felt, as members of a
liberal centrist party, that no
single coalition, be it led by
Likud or Labor, would be able
to form a strong enough major-
ity so that the political situa-
tion could remain stable for
the next four years."
Then, as the call for a na-
tional unity government grew
stronger, the three MKs,
thinking such a coalition
might be the best way to right
the country's economy, threw
their support behind the
Labor-Likud "merger."
But Atashi realizes that
along with the benefits of hav-
ing a ruling party that con-
trols 97 of the . 120 available
seats, there are some sac-
rifices. "Sure, you get very lit-
tle opposition on anything,
but, from a democratic point of
view, we have a government
(executive branch) which can
overrule the parliament
(legislative branch) on every
issue that comes up.
"This might be somewhat
undemocratic by Western
standards, but the current
interests of the nation must be
considered our first priority."
Prior to his 1984 re-election
to the Knesset (he also served
from 1977 to 1981), Atashi
held a top post on the Israeli
Druze National Council. He
lias frequently acted as a
liaison between the Druze
communities in Israel and
Lebanon and the Israeli gov-
ernment. The MK feels that
his being a Druze (a Middle
Eastern religious sect with no
ties to Judaism, Christianity
or Islam) disqualifies him
from debate on a number of is-
sues that come up before the

Knesset. He cited the current
controversy over the religious
roots of Ethiopian Jews now
living in Israel as an example
of the kind of issue on which he
usually steers clear.
The second-term MK was
also the first non-Jewish Is-
raeli to hold a diplomatic post,
serving as the consul for in-
formation at the New York
Consulate General of Israel in
the 1970s and a member of Is-
rael's permanent mission to
the United Nations during
The Druze MK is on a two-
month speaking tour of the
United States. His Detroit ap-
pearance was sponsored by the
temple's Adult Education
Committee in conjunction
with the B'nai B'rith Hillel
Foundation at Wayne State
In addition to his criticism of
the Begin government's han-

"The current
interests of the nation
must be considered
our first priority."

cluing of the economy, Atashi
was outspoken in his opposi-
tion to the Lebanon war.
"We don't have any interest
in Lebanon anymore," the MK
said Monday. "We were not
supposed to have any interest
beyond the 30-mile zone that
Begin announced our army
would proceed to in order to
eradicate the Palestinian
strongholds there.
"So we have to confess now
to the world that we have
committed a horrible mistake.
First, going beyond the 30
miles and second, staying in
Lebanon for the last two
Atashi praised the current
IDF withdrawal agreement,
but said that Israeli troops
should have been pulled out of
Lebanon as early as August
The Israeli MK also spoke of
the nuances that seem to be
unique to politics in the
Jewish state. In Israel, the
word "consensus" has a differ-
ent meaning than it dpes in
America, Atashi said.
"We have a consensus on a
number of issues. For in-
stance, the Labor party said,
`we had to withdraw from
Lebanon, under any circum-
stances.' Likud agreed. They
also said we had to pull out of
Lebanon 'under any circum-
stances. But not this year."'

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