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June 28, 1991 - Image 36

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-06-28

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FRIDAY, JUNE 28, 1991

hese days Abba Eban
spends about as much
II time overseas as he
does in Israel, this in connec-
tion with his activity on the
lecture circuit and his literary
and television careers. As a
result, whereas he remains in
the public spotlight abroad,
especially in the U.S., here at
home his image has begun to
fade, particularly since he
holds no public position
which would keep him in the
On a recent visit home he
was interviewed by Avi Bet-
telheim, of Maariv, who ob-
tained news of Mr. Eban's cur-
rent operations and reported
several typically Eban com-
ments on the present situa-
tion. For one thing, he let it
be known that television in
the U.S. will soon air his new
five-part series on the history
of Israel from World War II
through the recent Gulf war.
Coming off the press short-
ly will be his latest book, Per-
sonal Testimony, which is
termed an autobiography.
Since Mr. Eban's official
610-page autobiography was
published in New York in
1977, it may be assumed that
the new book will be an up-
dating and expansion of that
volume which, in its day, had
been proclaimed to be
"behind-the-scenes, amazing-
ly frank." Mr. Eban confirm-
ed that this will be the first
time that he can tell what he
really thinks, since he is no
longer subject to the
restraints imposed upon him
as a member of the Knesset
and of the government. In-
deed, he said, the book will
contain many surprises and
observations that will in-
furiate people. There are
several people who sleep too
quietly these days, he added.
He denies that he has used
the book to settle personal
grievances, but he will be
perfectly frank.
In his previous life story, 14
years ago, he told of how he
had been asked to offer the
presidency of Israel to Albert
Einstein. In the new volume
he promises to reveal further
The interviewer did not
miss the opportunity to ask
Mr. Eban about the negotia-
tions being conducted by
Secretary of State Baker.
Israel's former Minister of
Foreign Affairs (1966-1974)
compared the Baker efforts
with the energetic campaign

of Henry Kissinger in his day,
and the latter emerges with
better marks. Of Mr. Kiss-
inger, Mr. Eban recalls that
he had once said that Henry
was the only American Secre-
tary of State that two
presidents had served under.
Asked about the present
condition of the Israel Labor
Party, Mr. Eban grieved that
it was a sad story, with the
party leadership spending all
its time mourning what had
happened. Twelve ex-minis-
ters are still circulating, not
yet recovered from the fact
that they are no longer
ministers. Advice? He recom-
mended that both Mr. Peres
and Mr. Rabin should vacate
their positions before the corn-
ing elections and afford other
party members to emerge and

The book will
contain many
surprises and
observations that
will infuriate

vie for leadership. He told
that five such candidates had
already come to him, but he
found none that stand out
It will be recalled that at its
party convention Labor failed
to include his name on its list
of candidates for the Knesset.
Is he still bitter about that?
No, and he was not bitter
then, either. Rather, he was in
a state of shock, and could not
grasp, intellectually, why
they had done that to a man
who continued to stand high
in public opinion polls. It was
painful for him at the time,
but in the end things turned
out better for him, referring
to his successful career as
television producer, writer
and lecturer.
Does he think he would
have made a good prime
minister? As he looks at those
who have served in that posi-
tion in recent years, his
answer is in the affirmative.
He revealed that in 1974 he
had failed to take advantage
of an opportunity. When
Golda Meir had resigned,
leading members of the Labor
Party had come to him and
asked that he offer his can-
didacy. However Mr. Sapir
asked him not to, on the
grounds that it had already
been decided to choose Mr.
Rabin. In retrospect, he now
believes that he had made a
mistake. He should have
competed. ❑

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