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October 02, 1987 - Image 28

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-10-02

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George Shultz: Strengthening
The 'Special Relationship'

In an exclusive interview, Secretary of State George Shultz
discusses his strategic — and his very personal — reasons
for drawing the U.S. and Israel closer together







To all our friends, supporters and the en-
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happy and prosperous New Year.

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October 5 - FALSTAFF
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Open to the Public
Free of Charge
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FRIDAY, OCT. 2, 1987


Special to The Jewish News


n June 1982, many Is-
raeli officials and U.S.
Jewish leaders were ner-
vous about Ronald Reagan's
announcement that George
Shultz would succeed Alex-
ander Haig as Secretary of
Like Defense Secretary
Caspar Weinberger, Shultz
would come into the Reagan
Administration directly from
several years in the Bechtel
Corporation, a San Francisco
engineering and construction
company with huge contracts
in the Arab world — and none
in Israel. The pro-Israel com-
munity in the United States
was worried that Shultz
would steer Washington away
from Jerusalem.
Yitzhak Rabin, a member of
the Knesset and a former
prime minister, was one of the
few Israeli leaders who wel-
comed Shultz's appointment.
Rabin told his friends that
Shultz was very sympathetic
to Israel. Rabin had been
Israel's ambassador to Wash-
ington in the late 1960s and
early 1970s. There, he had
met Shultz, who was Secre-
tary of Labor in the Nixon
Rabin, of course, was ab-
solutely right. Over the past
five years, Shultz has repeat-
edly demonstrated that he
has a soft spot in his heart for
Israel. In fact, he has become
the best friend Israel has ever
had in the State Department.
Shultz's pro-Israeli leanings
were underlined when he was
asked during an exclusive in-_
terview why he has been so
supportive of Israel. The
Jewish state, said Shultz, is
"democratic and has a special
kind of relationship with the
United States that's built, in
part, on how Israel came into
being in the first place and
with which there are ties that
are very personal for a great
- many people, not just the
Jewish people."
Shultz, who is not Jewish,
added that U.S. support for
Israel "has basically been
very much in the interests of
the United States."
During his confirmation
hearings before the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee
in 1982, Shultz tried to allay
concerns about his attitude

toward Israel. In May, 1967,
he told the committee, war
clouds were looming over the
Middle East.
Shultz was then dean of the
University of Chicago's busi-
ness school. One of his best
graduate students, an Israeli
named Yosef Levi, had re-
turned to Israel to join his
military unit's mobilization.
Levi was killed in action on

Israeli officials
praise Shultz as
the unsung hero of
Israel's economic

the Golan Heights on the last
day of the Six Day War.
It was apparent from
Shultz's testimony before the
Senate that he had been af-
fected by Levi's death. It was
also apparent during his in-
terview with me.
"I remember him because
he was so good," Shultz said
of Levi. "He was absolutely
tops. I can't remember a stu-
dent who was so talented. He
had not only brains, but also
had a kind of maturity."
The University of Chicago
was courting Levi to accept
an academic appointment.
"In university circles," Shultz
said, "you want someone like
him to stay because you can
see that he's clearly got it.
But it was clear that he
wasn't going to
that. He
was going to go go back _„to
When Shultz heard of Levi's
death, he decided to eventual-
ly visit Israel. Never having
been there, he especially
wanted to understand Israeli
youths' affection for their
country, particularly in con-
trast to the attitude then cur-
rent among U.S. college
students toward their country
in the midst of the Vietnam
Shultz's opportunity to visit
Israel came in 1969. As
Secretary of Labor, Shultz
was invited to a diplomatic
reception where he met Yitz-
hak Rabin, then Israel's am-
bassador. Shultz told Rabin
he wanted to visit Israel and
asked if he could organize a
trip to Israel for him.
Rabin quickly had Israel's
Minister of Labor, Yosef
Almogi, invite the U.S. Secre-

tary of Labor to Israel.
Shultz accepted the invita-
tion. While in Israel, he
traveled to the Golan Heights
to see where Yosef Levi had
been killed. He spoke with his
commanding officers and fel-
low soldiers. And he also met
with a wide spectrum of other
The trip strengthened
Shultz's pro-Israeli convic-
Shultz says these events
played an important role in
moving him now toward
strengthening U.S.-Israeli
relations. Among his goals
have been helping Israel's
economic recovery. He has, for
instance, asked two presti-
gious American economists,
Herbert Stein of Washing-
ton's American Enterprise In-
stitute and Stanley Fischer of
MIT, to advise the State
Department on Israel's eco-
Israeli leaders, in turn,
have accepted many sugges-
tions from the Shultz-Stein-
Fischer team to buttress their
economy. But Shultz con-
firmed that he recently feared
that Israel was going to let
the economic recovery pro-
gram's progress of the past
few years slip away. His talks
in September with Israeli
Finance Minister Moshe
Nissim were reassuring, he
"Nissim is very good," said
Shultz. "He's tough-minded
and a realist — and he under-
stands. I was very impressed
with him?'
Shultz was clearly proud of
his record in helping Israel's
economic recovery. "It is in-
teresting to see how much
progress had been made and
how the issue has shifted to
the types of things that need
to happen for Israel to have
an economy that is self-sus-
taining and that gets onto the
cutting edge of new economic
development. I think Israelis
have a perception of what's
needed. It's much clearer
than when we were discuss-
ing these issues before."
Shultz was also pleased by
U.S.-Israeli efforts in recent
years to agree on the level of
American aid to Israel before
the congressional review proc-
ess. Referring to the joint U.S.-
Israeli economic planning
group which he helped create,
Shultz said, "Since I've been

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