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December 18, 1987 - Image 60

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-12-18

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Chairman Simca Dinitz:
No Place To Go But Up


Jerusalem Correspondent


ast week, the 31st
Zionist Congress res-
cued Simcha Dinitz
from political oblivion when
it elected him chairman of the
World Zionist Organization
and Jewish Agency. The big
question now is whether
Dinitz, 58, can return the
favor by rescuing an ailing
Zionist movement from its
slow drift toward terminal
Fifteen years ago, Simcha
Dinitz would almost certain-
ly have scoffed at the idea of
considering, let alone com-
peting for, Zionism's top job.
The protege — the eyes and
ears — of Golda Meir, he
wielded considerable political
influence and enjoyed a wide
measure of international
prestige as Israel's am-
bassador to Washington. Sim-
cha Dinitz was unques-
tionably a rising star of the
Labor Party, perhaps a future
prime minister of Israel.
He had served his appren-
ticeship and he had served it
well. He had been a member
of the Israeli delegation to the
United Nations, an envoy to
Rome, an information officer
in Washington and director-
general of the Prime Minis-
ter's Bureau.
Then came the days of glory
in Washington, from where
he enjoyed a grandstand view
of the Nixon, Ford and Carter
administrations. The 1973
Yom Kippur War gave Dinitz
the opportunity to rally
American Jewry to Israel's
side, to work closely with
Henry Kissinger, to become a
household name and,
ultimately, a member of that
small band of Israelis with
real star quality.
The great strength — and
the great weakness — of Sim-
cha Dinitz was that the magic
he exercised flowed directly
from his powerful patron. And
when Golda Meir fell from
grace the rise of her favorite
son was abruptly halted.
Returning from
Washington in 1979, Dinitz
found an Israel that had
undergone radical surgery:
not only had Golda slipped
from the scene, but
Menachem Begin and his
Likud Party had secured the
reins of power.
There was no place in the
demoralized inner circle of
the Labor Party for a former
ambassador to Washington
who had lost his mentor, no
matter how brilliant and suc-

Dinitz: Hardball with kid gloves

cessful. There was not even a
realistic place for him on
Labor's Knesset list for the
1981 elections.
Dinitz was shunted to the
sidelines to cool his heels as
a vice president of the
Hebrew University of Jeru-
salem, as chairman of the
Leonard Davis Institute for
International Relations and
of the American-Israel
Cultural Foundation.
In the 1984 elections, Dinitz
regained a somewhat tenuous
purchase on the slippery
Israeli political slope when, at
,last, he managed to secure a
Knesset seat and a place on
the Foreign Affairs and

"The Zionist
movement in its
and the Jewish
Agency are at their
lowest ebb. We
can't go anywhere
but up."

Defense Committee. But pro- ,
mises of a cabinet post com-
mensurate with his abilities
and his ambitions were never
Dinitz, said a Labor Party
insider this week, is ar-
ticulate, competent and a
clear thinker. But he lacks a
power base in the party and
is not popular with the left-
wing intellectuals, who
regard him as being too
conservative: "He really had
reached something of a dead
Against this background,
the Labor Party's drive to find
a suitable candidate for the
top Zionist post and Dinitz's
own frustration over his stall-
ed political career coincided
Indeed, increasingly desper-

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