Friday, July 26, 1985
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Washington — The 17-day shall Breger, the White House
ordeal involving the 39 American liaison to the Jewish community,
hostages in Beirut certainly put when asked to assess the damage
some serious strains on the U.S.- of the TWA hostage crisis. "Both
Israeli relationship. But now that sides, after all, stood closely to-
the Americans have been freed, gether. There was full coopera-
most experienced American ob- tion."
Still, Breger, like other U.S.
servers in Washington — both in
and out of government — belive and Israeli officials in Washing-
the relationship will quickly ton, conceded that there had been
bounce back to its pre-hostage some problems, especially during
the early days of the crisis. "Is-
state of intimacy.
In the immediate aftermath of raeli officials need to be more sen-
the release of the hostages, this sitive than heretofore about the
optimistic assessment was also statements they make in Kiryat
the message being conveyed both Shemona, Dimona and Eilat," he
publicly as well as privately by said. "They may think they are
President Ronald Reagan, Secre- speaking strictly for domestic
tary of State George Shultz and
National Security Adviser Robert
McFarlane. In their various In the end, what does
statements, they stressed the im-
portance of maintaining this bed- very clearly emerge is
Many former U.S. officials, dur- the fact that Israel
ing interviews on American tele- was certainly more
vision news programs, went out of
their way to underline the strong determined to
foundations upon which the maintain strong ties
American-Israeli relationship is
with the United
Thus, former Secretary of State States than vice
Henry Kissinger, former Under
Secretaries Lawrence Eag- versa.
leburger and Joseph Sisco, former
U.S. Ambassador to Israel
Samuel Lewis and many others consumption, but the next morn-
predicted that any erosion of U.S. ing those statements appear on
public support for Israel — as re- U.S. television."
flected during the hostage crisis
Israel, he said, has to be more
— will prove to be very short- alert to the fact that "the interna-
tional community is listening in"
William Hyland, a former on statements made by Israeli
senior State Department aide to leaders within Israel.
Kissinger who now edits Foreign
What Breger was referring to
Affairs quarterly, suggested that were some of the early remarks
the relationship may even become made by. Israeli leaders in the
stronger as a result of some of the days immediately following the
lessons learned during the Beirut hijacking of TWA flight 847. De-
fense Minister Yitzhak Rabin,
Appearing during the middle of among other Israeli leaders,
the crisis on the CBS Morning argued that this was strictly an
News, both Eagleburger and American problem, that Israel
Lewis agreed that U.S. interests had nothing to do with it.
in the Middle East are actually
To the American audience, this
enhanced when the Washington- line of thinking showed an incred-
Jeruljalem connection is ible lack of sensitivity to the fate
strongest. When the two countries of the American hostages given
are moving together in harmony, the fact that their Shi'ite captors
they said, America's stock among were seeking the release of the
moderate Arabs also is on the up- Lebanses detainees held at the
swing. They were responding to Atlit prison camp near Haifa.
suggestions by some that the U.S.
Fortunately for Israel, Rabin
ought to distance itself from Israel and other Israeli spokesman
and adopt a more "evenhanded" eventually realized their mistake.
policy in the region. This sup- They started to speak differently.
posedly would remove the U:S. as There was greater understanding
a terrorist target.
of America's predicament. Prime
Other observers noted that Minister Shimon Peres re-
previous downturns in public peatedly told U.S. reporters that
popularity for Israel also proved Israel felt toward the American
to be only temporary — that fol- captives almost as if they were Is-
lowing the immediate crisis rael's own people.
which provoked- any such slip-
It should be pointed out that the
page, the polls rebounded to U.S. and Israel were not totally
where they were before.
the losers in this hostage crisis.
This was certainly true in 1982, They had, after all, managed to
during the summer siege of Beirut win the release of the hostages
by Israeli air, ground and sea and to maintain their public stand
forces. Support for Israel also fell of delinking the release of the hos-
at that time. It later dropped some tages and the Shiite detainees in
more after Israel's indirect in- Israel.
volvement in the massacres of
Indeed, they had managed to
Palestinians by Lebanese Chris- deal with Shiite Amal leader
tians at Sabra and Shatila. But Nabih Bern eyeball-to-eyeball
despite those setbacks, Israel's and to have Berri, for whatever
image in the United States reason, blink.
quickly rose to a new, higher level
Thus, Israel did not have to re-
"I don't believe the relationship lease the Shiites in advance of the
was really injured," said Dr, Mar- release of the Americans — as