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June 15, 1990 - Image 37

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-06-15

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

SIDEWALK SALE

failing to condemn Libya for
its role in the abortive
seaborne attack on the
Israeli coast earlier this
month.
Following the meeting, the
ambassadors reported back
to their governments that,
for the first time, they had
failed to reach agreement
with Israel on a single sub-
ject under discussion.
Another clear signal of the
growing European frustra-
tion with Israel was
delivered by British Foreign
Secretary Douglas Hurd
during a visit to Saudi
Arabia last week.
He called for greater
international involvement
in the search for a Middle
East peace, including the
United Nations, and de-
scribed the settlement of
Soviet Jews in the occupied
territories as "unjust, illegal
and a real danger to stabili-
ty.
These are the sort of sen-
timents that Israel is going
to have to deal with, not only
when they come from Euro-
pean leaders but, as appears
increasingly likely, when
they come from senior offi-
cials in the Bush ad-
ministration, too.
In assessing the
difficulties which await

Only once before,
at the time of the
1956 Sinai
Campaign, has
Israel been as
isolated as it is
now.

Israel in the near future, it
must be remembered that
the dramatic deterioration
in relations with Europe has
occurred at a time when
Israel's foreign mini s ter,
Arens, was the sophisti-
cated, articulate product of
an American background, a
former academic of con-
siderable intellectual ability
who, as a successful ambas-
sador to Washington, was
considered to be singularly
well-equipped to deal with
Western governments.
His successor as foreign
minister, David Levy, an
ethnic populist who built his
power base on Israel's
substantial community of
Moroccan extraction, has
little formal education, only
the most tenuous grasp of
the English language and
carries a large chip on his
shoulder. He is considered
unlikely to improve on
Arens' performance.
There can be no doubt that
Israel, with the most hard-
line and uncompromising

government in its history, is
now charting unknown ter-
ritory of unprecedented
difficulty. Equally, there can
be no doubt that the make-
up of the new government
imposes special difficulties
in dealing with the daunting
challenges that appear in-
evitable in its relations with
both Europe and the United
States.
Only once before — at the
time of the 1956 Sinai Cam-
paign — has Israel been as
isolated as it is now. Then,
however, the isolation was of
a limited, relatively short
duration, ending almost as
soon as Israel withdrew from
the Sinai Peninsula. There
are, however, no quick fixes
for the current malaise,
which touches on the struc-
tural foundations of rela-
tions between Israel and its
traditional allies and which
is likely to prove more in-
tractable than anything ex-
perienced before.
Just six months into a new
decade, the problems Israel
experienced in the Eighties
already appear to be child's
play. True, there was the
Lebanon War; true, the Pa-
lestinian youth of the West
Bank and Gaza Strip shot to
prominence, rescuing PLO
leader Yassir Arafat from
political oblivion and dump-
ing Israel into the interna-
tional dog-house.
But there were consola-
tions. For one thing, the Gulf
War insured that the
Moslem states of the Middle
East remained at each
other's throats — and far
from Israel's borders; for an-
other, the Reagan ad-
ministration did little to
rattle the coffee cups in
Jerusalem.
The Eighties were not
plain sailing, but they did
serve to reinforce the
cherished notion that the
transatlantic alliance, en-
shrined in a network of
treaties and pacts that were
thought to be almost im-
possible to untangle, was
firm, stable and immutable.
That alliance,
unassailable just one year
ago, is now looking increas-
ingly tenuous, and the cur-
rent decade is presenting a
starkly less-hospitable face
to the Jewish state.
The end of the Gulf War is
leading to the emergence of
hostile new alliances in the
Arab world, prompting
former Defense Minister
Yitzhak Rabin to serve for-
mal notice last week that the
reconciliation of ,Syria with
its rival, Iraq, will dramati-
cally alter the military
threat facing Israel. ❑

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

37

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