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August 16, 1991 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-08-16

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38

FRIDAY, AUGUST 16, 1991

Shoval

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1989," he said. "And I arriv-
ed here and had to deal with
a very critical problem, the
aftermath of the Temple
Mount affair, which happen-
ed on the eve of my arrival."
And there was the Persian
Gulf crisis, which saw the
administration frantically
searching for new allies in
the Arab world.
When the missiles started
raining down on Tel Aviv,
Mr. Shoval's life became a
blur of activity: endless
meetings with administra-
tion policy makers over the
question of possible Israeli
retaliation, with Jewish
groups frantic about Israel's
survival, with legislators in-
terested in helping Israel
cope with the costs of the
war, with an endless series
of interviewers who saw in
Mr. Shoval a calm and ar-
ticulate spokesman who
offered just the right mix of
concern for Israel's interests
and concern for the broader
agenda of the anti-Iraq coali-
tion.
"He comes through as a
Walter Cronkite figure,"
said Marvin Kalb, the
longtime CBS and NBC
newsman and now director
of the Shorenstein, Barone
Center on the Press, Politics
and Public Policy at Har-
vard. "He's believable, seri-
ous and intelligent. And yet
he's clearly someone who is
not making policy."
Mr. Shoval responded with
diplomatic caution to the
question that is on the minds
of many of Israel's sup-
porters: Did Israel, in fact,
derive any long-term
benefits from its un-
characteristic restraint in
the face of Scud missile at-
tacks?
"In my subjective feeling,
yes, relations between our
two governments did im-
prove during this period," he
said. "The meeting which
occurred between the presi-
dent and the prime minister
went off very well. There
was no feeling of a lack of
chemistry. Whatever the dif-
ferences of opinion between
the two governments, I
believe the relationship
• between the two countries is
on a higher plane than it
was before."
But almost in the same
breath, he offered a more
pessimistic assessment of
the long-term benefits won
by Israel.
"We were told during the
crisis that Israel would
stand to gain a lot of positive
points as a result of that re-
straint," he said. "I don't
want to be misunderstood; it
wasn't for that reason that
Israel decided to wait. But

some Israelis today are
beginning to question that
original assumption; they
are questioning whether the
gains we have seen were
short-lived."
In another area, the
results of the Gulf war were
even less positive for Israel,
in Mr. Shoval's view.
"All of us were very op-
timistic during the Gulf war
and right after the war that
there would indeed be a
change in the attitudes on
the part of the Arab world.
We are a bit less optimistic
now. I don't want to foreclose
any options, or say that the
window of opportunity has
been shuttered. But it is not
as wide open as we assumed
it was."

Ambassador To Jews

While Mr. Shoval's
primary responsibility is as
ambassador to the United
States, he notes that he is
also "the ambassador of the
Jewish people in Israel to
the Jewish people in the
United States," which gives
him a great deal of satisfac-
tion.
But these two roles are not
always entirely compatible.
Mr. Shoval plays a different
role with American Jews
than with the administra-
tion — or with his govern-

Shoval looks like
what he is — a
prosperous
businessman now
turned to
government
service.

ment colleagues back in
Israel.
This is particularly ob-
vious on the question of set-
tlements, the hottest issue
along the Washington-
Jerusalem axis.
Mr. Shoval told a radio
interviewer in Israel
that the Shamir govern-
ment's settlements policies
could short-circuit efforts to
provide Israel with an addi-
tional $10 billion in housing
loan guarantees.
But in his office in Wash-
ington, he was asked how he
would like American Jews to
think about the settlements
controversy. His answer was
quite different — reflecting
his belief that one of his
primary functions as ambas-
sador is to reinforce the solid
wall of Jewish support for
Israel.
"It's only an obstacle (to
the peace process) if you
want to make it an ob-

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