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July 05, 1991 - Image 36

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-07-05

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Trip Shows Wellstone
Israel's Security Needs

The senator said the Palestinians'
aspirations must also be considered.


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FRIDAY, JULY 5, 1991

en. Paul Wellstone, D-
Minn., who stunned
the political world by
defeating Sen. Rudy
Boschwitz last November,
recently returned from his
first trip to Israel with a new
appreciation for the security
needs of the Jewish state.
But his visit also reinforc-
ed his belief that Israel's
leaders need to make signifi-
cant policy changes to meet
those security needs in the
long term.
"I left Israel feeling even
more strongly that the pre-
sent course can't be the only
course," Mr. Wellstone said
in an interview shortly after
his return. "There can and
should be a way of reconcil-
ing Israel's security needs
with the aspirations of Pa-
While in Israel, Mr.
Wellstone met with Prime
Minister Yitzhak Shamir for
45 minutes. The senator pre-
sented the Israeli leader
with a new arms control
proposal, and they discussed
Israel's settlements policies,
which Mr. Wellstone labeled
"a huge mistake."
Mr. Wellstone also met
with several cabinet min-
isters and members of the
Knesset. And Mr. Wellstone
spoke to an international
gathering of peace activists
convened by
"I went out of my way to
tell them that one of the
challenges for people who
want to see a peace process is
to make it clear that Israel's
security concerns have to be
put at the top of the list of
priorities," he said. "That
isn't being done. That issue
was really hammered home
to me in a big way during
this trip."
Mr. Wellstone found both
his personal connection to
the people of Israel and his
concerns about the treat-
ment of Palestinians rein-
forced by his visit.
"On one hand, I visited
Yad Vashem and wept ex-
actly as I thought I would,"
he said. "The discussion of
Israel's security, therefore,
became very concrete to
But in a Palestinian refu-
gee camp, he encountered

Sen. Paul Wellstone said his trip
to Israel made him feel even
stronger aboutthe Jewish state.

several impoverished chil-
"What I told a lot of people
in Israel was that if these
were my children, I would be
very angry about the conch-
tion of their lives," he said.
Moderate Palestinian
leaders, Mr. Wellstone said,
told him that they were very
pessimistic about the future
— and especially about the
rise of Islamic fundamen-
talism within the Palestin-
ian population.
The leaders of Israel's po-
litical establishment were
somewhat wary of him, Mr.
Wellstone reported.
"I was treated very well,"
he said. "But I was surprised
at how much people knew
about me. They knew I was
coming with a much diff-
erent view from my
predecessor, that I was a
Jewish senator who had
been critical of some of the
Israeli government's poli-
What was the net result of
his trip?
"I came back feeling more
strongly about Israel, about
the Middle East," he said. "I
didn't come back with any il-
lusions — but I did come
back more determined to
play a positive role in the
Middle East as a U.S. sena-
tor. It's always been an im-
portant issue to me because
of my family. Now it's an
even more personal

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