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December 27, 1985 - Image 34

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-12-27

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

34

Friday, December 27, 1985 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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Life After Pollard:
Shaky Israeli Regime

BY HELEN DAVIS

Special to The Jewish News

In the very month that opi-
nion polls show Shimon Peres
to be the most popular prime
minister in Israel's 37-year
history, a political scandal has
blown up in his face and now
threatens to abruptly end a
brilliant, often troubled,
career.
In a country where political
crises have become routine, the
revelation that Israel was run-
ning an American Jew as a spy
deep inside the United States
defense establishment was a
crisis of an altogether different
magnitude.
The United States is, after
all, Israel's closest and most
trusted ally. It already shares
high-quality intelligence with
Jerusalem and provides more
aid — approximately US$3.5
billion ayear — for the Jewish
state than for any other
country.
Moreover, no administration
has been more openly suppor-
tive of Israel than that of
President Ronald Reagan. And
the Washington-Jerusalem
axis has been greatly enhanced
since Mr. Peres stepped into
the Prime Minister's Office 14
months ago.
But the arrest of US Navy
intelligence analyst Jonathan
Pollard, 31, by FBI agents out-
side the Israeli Embassy in
Washington in late November
has caused shock-waves of
seismic proportions to shake
this idyllic relationship.
The full extent of the scandal
has yet to be revealed, but if,
as early reports indicate,
Pollard's Israeli contact was
indeed located in the Prime
Minister's Office, Mr. Peres
will find himself in a danger-
ously exposed position.
If he did not know about the
operation — as he insists he
did not — he will be open to
charges of gross dereliction; if
he did, he will be guilty of an
act of supreme political in-
discretion. And he can be in no
doubt of the deep anger and
dismay which the scandal has
generated among the very peo-
ple he looks to in Israel for
political support.
There is, in fact, a haunting
familiarity in Mr. Peres's
career with that of another
political leader whose long and
tortuous political life was
dogged by suspicion and who
was brought to his knees by
scandal after he had reached
the very pinnacle of power —
Richard M. Nixon.
Like the former US presi-
dent, who resigned in the wake
of the Watergate scandal,
Shimon Peres had a brilliant
start to his political life. While
still in his twenties he was a
close and trusted aide of
Israel's first Prime Minister,
Mr. David Ben-Gurion. In-
deed, so great was the trust
and so outstanding were the
administrative abilities of the
young Peres that Ben-Gurion
appointed him, at the age of

Shimon Peres

Jonathan Pollard

just 29, to be the top civil ser-
vant in Israel's massive de-
fence establishment. It was a
post that offered Shimon Peres
the opportunity to lay the
foundations for Israel's high-
tech industry.
Few Israelis then doubted
that Ben-Gurion's prodigy
would himself one day occupy
the Prime Minister's Office. In
fact, though, the path was so
long and so difficult that by
the time Shimon Peres became
prime minister in July last
year his image had become
that of the eternal loser.
Beset by bitter intra-party
rivalries and disputes, he only
just managed to snatch the
leadership of the Labour Party
after the former prime minister
(and now defence minister),
Mr. Yitzhak Rabin, was dis-
graced in a financial scandal in
1977.
At the time, Mr. Rabin's
aides reportedly swore that
they detected the hand of
Shimon Peres in the disclosure
of the scandal — that Mr.
Rabin's wife was illegally
operating a foreign bank ac-
count in the United States.
Mr. Peres, perhaps not unex-
pectedly, lost the election that
followed Mr. Rabin's downfall,
but there was no such excuse
for losing the subsequent 1981
election to Mr. Menachem
Begin.
The seven years of Likud
rule that followed, first under

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