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August 22, 1986 - Image 93

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-08-22

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an Halperin Learned How To Play The U.S. Game

he National Journal, a
highly-respected publi-
cation for Washington
insiders, recently identified
150 people who "stand out
from the crowd" in their abili-
ty to influence the U.S.
government. The Israeli Em-
bassy's outgoing economic
minister, Dan Halperin, was
among them.
He is "almost an honorary
American," the publication
said. "His English is flawless
and idiomatic. His under-
standing of the political
system — not just the legis-
lative process, but the budget
game — is equally impressive.
And his contacts in the Rea-
gan Administration, Con-
gress and the news media are
impeccable. As a result, he
can gather information from
2 formal and informal sources
and quickly give his govern-
ment an up-to-date picture of
U.S. economic aid and
military prospects."
That description, by all ac-
counts, is very accurate. In
Washington, Halperin has
become almost an institution,
and in the process, a proven
asset for Israel. This is
especially true in his never-
ending quest for greater and
more creative forms of U.S.
economic and military assist-
ance. Israeli officials and their
American supporters agree
that his presence in the em-
bassy will be sorely missed.
Better than any other
Israeli, he has come to under-
stand the American system
— from the standpoint of
Israel's financial needs. He
has learned how to operate
extremely effectively in the
bureaucratic and political
maze of the U.S. capital and,
as his successor, Pinchas
Dror, has constantly heard
since arriving in Washington,
it will not be easy filling
Halperin's shoes.
"I don't call myself a
diplomat," Halperin told the
National Journal. Instead, he
said he believes in playing the
system like any other Ameri-
can lobbyist. "In Washing-
ton," he said. "you have to be
what I call an operator. Once
you realize the system is
open, once you realize the
rules here are not the rules
you learned from home, you
can be an operator."
Halperin argued that both
Congress and the executive
branch of the U.S. govern-
ment are relatively open to
foreign diplomats and that in-
fluence in the executive
branch is often related to in-
fluence in Congress.
Now 44 years old, Halperin
is about to wind up seven hec-
tic years in Washington. He is
returning to Israel where he
and Gen. Menachem Meron
(ret.) are planning to open a
private consulting business
aimed at promoting Israeli


Dan Halperin:
A Washington institution.

military and civilian exports.
Meron is a former military at-
tache at the embassy in
Washington as well as a
former Director-General of
the Defense Ministry. Both
are extremely well plugged in-
to the U.S. and Israeli com-
munities. Their business
should thrive.
Halperin, sitting in his em-
bassy office the other day,
reflected on his Washington
experience. His fascination
with the United States, he
recalled, began long before he
assumed his position in
Washington at the relatively
young age of 37 years.
He had joined the Finance
Ministry in 1963 while still a
student at the Hebrew Uni-
versity. Since then, he has
served under 11 Finance Min-
isters. His talent was spotted
early, especially by the late
Pinchas Sapir. Halperin con-
siders Sapir, the legendary
Labor Finance Minister, his
personal mentor although he
later worked very closely with
several Likud ministers as
His real connection with
America began in the early
1970s when he was tapped by
Sapir to see if there was
anything that could be done
to weaken the Arab economic
boycott which was hurting
Israel's international trade
very badly.
In the years that followed,
he forged ties with the Amer-
ican Jewish Committee, the
American Jewish Congress
and the Anti-Defamation
League — the three Jewish
organizations which lead the
fight in promoting legislation
in Congress that would make
compliance by American
companies with the Arab
boycott illegal. "My greatest
achievement," he said only
half-jokingly, "was to get
those three groups to
cooperate with each other in
the effort."
It was during that period
that Halperin established

close personal relations with
such important Jewish
leaders in the Washington
political and legal establish-
ment as Max Kampleman,
Alfred Moses, Paul Berger,
- and Stuart Eizenstat. They
played a critically important
role in pushing for the anti-
boycott legislation.
The Jewish groups squared
off against the powerful
Business Roundtable, which
represented the interests of
corporate America and which
then was very concerned that
any new anti-boycott legisla-
tion might undermine U.S.
trade with the Arab world,
especially the oil-rich states.
It took several years, but
the end result, of course, was
the tough antiboycott law
which was passed by the
Senate and House of Repre-
sentatives and eventually
signed into law by President
Jiminy Carter in 1977. What
was very unusual was the fact
that the actual deal was first
struck during lengthy negoti-
ations between the Jewish
groups and the Business
Roundtable and only then
"ratified" by Congress.
"At first," Halperin said,
"no one gave us much of a
chance. This was in 1973-74
during the height of Arab
petrodollar strength. But I
learned that in the United
States, if you have a good
idea, you can sell it — even if
there is tough opposition."
Halperin's behind-the-
scenes role in getting that
anti-boycott legislation pass-
ed was, of course, instrumen-
tal in setting the stage for his
Washington appointment in
1979. He had already become
friends with many powerful
Americans — contacts which
would later prove extremely
valuable in his pursuit for
greater American assistance
to Israel's beleaguered
An avid tennis player, he
often used the courts to
befriend some of Washing-
ton's most powerful figures
both in and out of govern-
ment. He plays tennis much
like he operates in the back
rooms of the Washington
political establishment —
always hustling, always
thinking, never giving up,
even if the odds are unlikely
for success.
Among those who have
come to be his friends are
such powers as Republican
Senator Bob Kasten of Wis-
consin, Chairman of the
Foreign Operations Subcom-
mittee, and Democratic Sen-
ator Daniel Inouye, the rank-
ing minority member on the
panel. Like all good Israeli
diplomats, he has reached out
to Democrats and Republi-
cans, liberals and conserva-
tives. At the State Depart-
ment, he is very close with

William Schneider, who is in
charge of security assistance.
William Brock, now Secretary
of Labor, stayed in constant
touch with Halperin during
the negotiations leading up to
the creation of the U.S:Israeli
Free Trade Area. At that
time, Brock was the U.S.
Special Trade Representative.
Halperin probably knows
more about the U.S:Israeli
economic relationship than
anyone else. "I wish I had
someone on my staff who
knew the bowels of the federal
bureaucracy like Danny," said
'Ibm Dine, Executive Director-
of the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee (AIPAC),
the pro-Israeli lobbying
Halperin has come to feel
at home in dealing with of-

ficials at the State Depart-
ment, the White House, the
Office of Management and
Budget, the 11-easury, the
Office of the Special Trade
Representative, the Pentagon,
the Departments of Com-
merce and Agriculture and all
of the other U.S. governmen-
tal agencies even remotely
connected with Israel. Each,
in its own way, can help —
and hurt — Israel. Staying on
top of the situation is by no
means easy. And beyond the
executive branch, there is a
large Congress involving
members and their aides.

But it was in the area of
direct economic and military
assistance to Israel where
Halperin's - expertise was
most important.


Leo Silver

He was a member of Tem-
ple Kol Ami for the past 20
years and Craftsman Lodge
of the Masons.
He leaves his wife, Norma;
a son, Dr. Alan of New York;
a daughter, Laurie of Ann
Arbor; and his mother, Mrs.
Anna Silver.

Ray Mazer.

Leo M. Silver

Leo M. Silver a mechanical
and aeronautical engineer
with the U.S. Department of
Defense, died Aug. 15 at age
A native Detroiter, Mr.
Silver was a 1933 graduate of
the University of Michigan
School of Engineering. He
began his defense career dur-
ing World War II, doing de-
sign work on B24 aircraft at
Willow Run Airport. Follow-
ing the war he served as a
government liaison to
Chrysler Corp. and Hudson
During the Korean War, he
designed a troop carrier used
in the Battle of Pork Chop
Hill. He later received a gov-
ernment commendation for
the design of that carrier
which saved many soldiers'
Mr. Silver was certified by
the U.S. Department of Jus-
tice as an engineering consul-
tant and expert witness and
represented the government
in the U.S. Court of Claims.
He published many papers on
military and engineering sub-

Ray Mazer, a member of
Jewish community organiza-
tions in Detroit and Los
Angeles, Calif., died Aug. 7.
A former Oak Park resi-
dent, Mr. Mazer was a
member of the Los Angeles
Social Club, the Dignitaires
of Sinai Temple and the Is-
rael Levin Senior Citizens.
While in Detroit, he was a
member of Workmen's Circle
and he and his wife were
affiliated with the Rose
Sherer Socialites.
He is survived by his wife,
Sara; a son, Robert Alan of
Los Angeles; two step-
daughters, Sharon
Applebaum of Southfield and
Miriam Applebaum of
Eureka, Calif.; three sisters,
Mrs. Betty Lieb: Mrs. Anne
Mittleman and Mrs. Mollie
Penner, all of Southfield; a
brother, Nathan .(Natey) of
Southfield; and one grand-
daughter. Interment Califor-

David Hersch

David J. Hersch, a retired
real estate broker, died Aug.
12 at age 91.
Born in Chicago, Mr.
Hersch was a member of
Temple Beth El and Ashlar
Lodge of the Masons.
He leaves a cousin, Ethel
Levy Zack of Minneapolis,

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