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July 24, 1987 - Image 46

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-07-24

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

ANALYSIS

OPENING AUGUST 1

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EWELRY

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46

FRIDAY, JULY 24, 1987

Damascus

Continued from preceding page

army into the suburbs of
south Beirut, where the fun-
damentalists are entrenched
with their hostages — a move
that would almost certainly
constitute a death sentence
for the hostages — the Syrian
leader appears incapable of
taming the kidnappers.
Observers believe that the
recent kidnapping of
American journalist Charles
Glass — an operation con-
ducted virtually under the
noses of Syrian troops in
Beirut — was specifically
ordered by the Iranians to
demonstrate to the West that
Assad's control in Lebanon is
tenuous at best.
But the diplomatic dances
that have been performed by
United States and the Euro-
pean emissaries in Syria over
the past few weeks have not
been aimed solely at achiev-
ing measurable gains; they
have also been designed to
prevent an expensive loss.
Textbooks in modern
diplomacy all contain at least
one chapter on the Soviet
debacle in the Middle East
over the past 20 years. And
the lesson has been well
learned in the West. By
breaking diplomatic relations
with Israel following the Six
Day War of 1967 — and then
by unexpectedly losing its
foothold in Egypt six years
later Moscow found itself
shunted to the sidelines of
Middle East affairs.
The great strength of the
United States and the Euro-
pean nations in their pursuit
of diplomatic goals in the
region is that they have never
closed off channels of com-
munication unless it became
absolutely unavoidable (the
United States with Iran after
the hostage crisis; Britain
with Syria in the wake of the
attempted airline bombing).
Moreover, close ally that it
is of Israel, the United States
has worked hard to retain a
credible voice in most Arab
capitals, giving it the status
of mediator rather than ad-
vocate of one particular side
or another in the Arab-Israeli
conflict.
The meeting between Am-
bassador Walters and Presi-
dent Assad in Damascus is
widely viewed in this context;
a sign of Washington's deter-
mination to keep its options
— and its links — open in the
face of considerable Soviet
diplomatic gains in the
region.
Indeed, the Soviets
themselves appear to have
taken the point: last week, a
Soviet consular delegation ar-
rived in Israel, the first
diplomatic mission to visit
Israel since Moscow closed its
embassy 20 years ago.

The ostensible purpose of
the delegation is to spend
three months inspecting the
extensive property holdings of
the Russian Orthodox Church
in the Holy Land and dealing
with the routine consular
matters affecting Soviet
citizens in Israel. In fact,
though, the delegation is like-
ly to be quietly upgraded and
to stay on indefinitely, form-
ing the nucleus of a conven-
tional diplomatic mission
when full-blown relations are
officially restored between
Israel and the Soviet Union.
What, in sum, will be the
results of the flurry of recent
activity in the Middle East by
the Europeans, the United
States and the Soviet Union?
Very little in tangible terms,
say Israeli observers. But,
they hasten to add, it all con-
tributes to "momentum."
Whatever that may mean and
wherever that may lead.

'"'""i NEWS

Smith Criticizes
Judaism Again

New York — The American
Jewish Committee condemn-
ed Rev. Bailey Smith for once
again denigrating Jews and
Judaism.
Rev. Smith, a past president
of the Southern Baptist Con-
vention, first gained notorie-
ty in 1980 when he said that
"God Almighty doesn't hear
the prayer of a Jew!' After
considerable uproar from
both Christians and Jews, he
apologized for the statement;
but in a meeting held last
week in St. Louis, he in effect
expressed the same
sentiments.
Speaking June 17 before
the Conference of Southern
Baptist Evangelists, Rev.
Smith said that "unless (the
Jewish people) repent and get
born again, they don't have a
prayer,' adding that he didn't
"care what trouble (his
remark) causes!'
Commenting on Reverend
Smith's St. Louis statement,
Rabbi A. James Rudin,
American Jewish Committee
director of interreligious af-
fairs, said:
"The Rev. Bailey Smith's re-
cent statement clearly reveals
that he remains where he was
seven years ago: a self impos-
ed prisoner in a theological
swamp of narrow trium-
phalism and religious im-
perialism. However, his
negative views and limited
understanding of Jews and
Judaism are daily being
repudiated by an increasing
number of Christian bodies
and leaders."

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