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February 05, 1988 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-02-05

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

PROFILE I

WZO-Agency Chief
Is Diaspora's Choice

SIMON GRIVER

erusalem — Simcha
Dinitz has been elected
to serve as the tenth
chairman of the WZO and
Jewish Agency, succeeding
Arye Dulzin. Standing for the
Labor party, Dinitz beat the
Likud's candidate, Science
and Technology Minister
Gideon Patt, by 310 votes to
220.
Despite being democratical-
ly elected by the delegates to
the 31st Zionist Congress,
and before that by the Labor
party's central committee, it
was Dinitz's close ties with
Diaspora Jewry that actually
won him the job.
Dinit's relations with the
Diaspora were developed over
many years in the United
States. Born in Tel Aviv in
1929, he studied at
Georgetown University in
Washington, D.C., where he
received a B.A. and M.A. in
international relations.
Dinitz is as articulate in
English as Hebrew, and his
closest connection to the
United States is his
American-born wife, Vivian.
They live with their three
children in the Nayot
neighborhood of Jerusalem.
It was after graduating
from Georgetown that Dinitz
returned to Israel and joined
the foreign service. He first
headed the Portuguese desk.
When he complained that he
did not speak Portuguese, he
was told that nobody else did
either! He then became
political secretary to the
director-general of the
Foreign Minister, before being
asked to perform the same
role for the minister herself,
Golda Meir.
He admits frankly that he
was at first terrified of Golda
Meir, and not keen to be
promoted.
"Don't you want to be my
political secretary?" Golda
asked him, to which Dinitz
replied, "no." "Well then, that
makes two of us. I don't want
my job either."
Dinitz was promoted
anyway, and the two became
close friends, so much so that
after Golda Meir became
prime minister in 1969,
Dinitz was recalled from his
post as information minister
in the Washington embassy
to once more become her
political secretary. In 1972, he
became director-general of
the Prime Minister's office,
and the following year he was
appointed Israeli Am-
bassador to the United States.

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EXCIllfiE

World Zion ist Press Se rvice

j

Dinitz: Diaspora ties. •

His period in Washington
stretched from the Yom Kip-
pur War in 1973 to the Camp
David Peace Treaty. He
became a good friend of the
then Secretary of State Henry
Kissinger, and earned a
reputation with successive
American administrations as
a tough bargainer. During
this period, his former univer-
sity, Georgetown, awarded
him an honorary doctorate.
Back in Israel, in 1979 he
retired from the civil service
and was appointed vice presi-
dent of the Hebrew Universi-
ty. He left his post in 1984
when he was elected as a
Labor Alignment Knesset
Member. In the Knesset, he
served on the foreign affairs
and defense committees and
chaired the foreign affairs
subcommittee on special mat-
ters (intelligence). Known as
a Labor hawk, he never-
theless supports the concept
of territorial compromise
with the Arabs. On being
elected chairman of the WZO,
he resigned his Knesset seat.
In his victory speech at the
Zionist Congress, Dinitz told
delegates, "The Jewish peo-
ple expect this to be a turning
point, and it is in our power
to make it so.
Dinitz promised to strive for
increased aliyah. He sees
Jewish and Zionist education
as a top priority and intends
drastically raising the
number of Jewish youngsters
who come to Israel on youth
and study programs. He also
plans to increase the efficien-
cy of the Jewish Agency and
WZO by cutting staff.
One of his first actions as
chairman was to close his Tel
Aviv office, claiming that he
was able to work adequately
from his Jerusalem office.
However, the essence of
Dinitz's task, as he sees it, is
to develop Israeli-Diaspora
relations.

World Zionist Press Service

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