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December 23, 1988 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-12-23

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

N EWS

THE MAN WHO SELECTS MENDAL'S IN WINDSOR

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Continued from Page 1

Beautify your home
for the holidays
with an oriental rug
from Azar's

IN.hOME CONSUI.TATION ,

313°661°3660--

18 FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23, 1988

251 Merrill
Birmingham
(313) 644-7311

2915 Breton
Grand Rapids
(1.800-622-RUGS)

creasing the damage to its
trading relations with the
European Community.
There will be other conse-
quences, too, of Arafat's
statements in Geneva and the
consequent United States
decision to abandon its
13-year-old policy of rejecting
direct, open contacts with the
PLO.
One of the most significant
will be an exacerbation of the
already-polarized opinion
both within Israel and within
the wider Jewish world.
The most immediate threat
hangs over Israel's Labor Par-
ty, which is deeply divided
over whether or not to seize
the moment and agree to talk
to the PLO. After the events
of last week, it appears to be
facing a no-win situation.
As Labor Party leaders
Shimon Peres and Yitzhak
Rabin — who reject talks with
the PLO — enter a new na-
tional unity coalition with
the Likud Party of Yitzhak
Shamir, they could well find
themselves unable to stop a
hemmorhage to the more
radical Citizen's Rights Move-
ment and, to a lesser extent,
to the left-wing Mapam Par-
ty.
If, on the other hand, the
Labor leaders submit to the
powerful voices in their par-
ty and agree to talk to the
PLO — under whatever cir-
cumstances — they might re-
tain the cohesion of their
movement, but they will pro-
pel themselves into the
political wilderness and
render their party unelec-
table for the foreseeable
future.
Equally damaging, the U.S.
decision could produce a
severe strain on relations be-
tween Israel and its Jewish
supporters in the United
States, who are still bewil-
dered and disoriented by the
intensity of both the Pales-
tinian uprising and the
Israeli response.
American Jewish leaders
will face the agonizing dilem-
ma of whether to challenge
the U.S administration and
support the official Israeli
position, right or wrong, or
support their own govern-
ment, with all the risks in-
herent in either stance.
Ronald Reagan's tenure in
the White House has produc-
ed a sustained period of
relative unanimity between
Israel and its superpower
patron, but it is the hand of
incoming President George
Bush that is being widely
detected in last week's
decision.
If the decision does indeed
represent the shape of things
to come, it could be the
curtain-raiser for a major

diplomatic showdown be-
tween Washington and Jeru-
salem.
This is, in fact, the central
challenge facing Israel as it
continues to grapple with the
United States turnaround,
with its own political vacuum
and with the absence of a
credible response to the diplo-
matic onslaught it is endur-
ing.
Israeli Prime Minister
Shamir appeared genuinely
nonplussed by the unexpected
U.S. decision, which came just
a day after the Reagan ad-
ministration officially an-
nounced that Arafat's address
to the General Assembly had
failed to satisfy its conditions
for opening a dialogue.
At the weekend, after an in-
itial meeting in Tunis bet-
ween U.S. Ambassador Robert
Pelletreau aid PLO officials,
Shamir conceded that rela-
tions between Jerusalem and
Washington were facing "a
serious test."
He was clearly deriving lit-
tle comfort from the assess-

The uprising has
already produced a
public relations
catastrophe for
Israel, deepening
its international
isolation.

ments of such senior Likud
Party colleagues as Dan
Meridor, who declared that
"this is not the first time that
Israel has stood alone."
Not until George Bush
enters the White House next
month will Israel know the
full extent of its isolation, but
in the meantime, according to
one Israeli official, "we will
be calling in all our favors, all
our chips."
Yassir Arafat has indeed
pushed the PLO's diplomatic
boat far out to sea, setting a
formidable pace and estab-
lishing a commanding lead
over Israel. For all that,
however, he will not be able to
luxuriate for long in his
triumph.
The big question is
whether, when pressed to the
wall, he can translate his
declarations into deeds,
whether he can fill the
vessels of rhetoric with
substance.
Will the volatile, fractious
coalition of religious and
political forces within his own
movement grant him a man-
date to sit down with the
Israelis — in the framework of
an international peace con-
ference or any other forum —
to negotiate a settlement

IWO

.11

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