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October 09, 1992 - Image 29

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-10-09

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

Reverting To Form

After a period of diplomatic momentum,
the Rabin government has been hit with a
barrage of political flaps that threaten the



el Correspondent


here on earth would
a government fall
over the question of
whether the world was cre-
ated in six days?
Well, actually, not even in
,rael — though that's not
uite certain yet. For last
,3k, with the peace talks in
:•ss and the spotlight back
'_ile local scene, Israelis
• treated to the first do-
tic-political drama of the
a-day-old Rabin govern-
ment, and it turned out to be
strikingly similar to the
usual political farce.
The flap centered on Edu-
cation Minister Shulamit
Aloni, head of the dovish
Meretz Party, which is the
third largest faction in the
Knesset and, with 12 seats,
the larger of Labor's two co-
alition partners (the other
being the Orthodox Shas).
Ms. Aloni, long a fiery op-
position leader who cham-
pioned the causes of civil
rights, women's rights, and
freedom of choice in re-
ligious matters, has main-
tained her outspoken ways
since becoming a minister.
That alone put her out of
step with the "presidential
style" of the Rabin govern-
ment, which dictates that
the prime minister runs the
show and his colleagues
should avoid calling atten-
tion to themselves. She has
also made a number of pro-
nouncements that, while
perfectly in line with her
party's platform, have not
gone down well with either
of her coalition partners.
Ms. Aloni angered Mr.
Rabin with the observation
that, by international law,
the Golan is Syrian ter-
ritory. She then compounded
the "gaffe" by saying that
she would be willing to
return all of it for a full
, peace with Syria — which is
precisely what the negotia-
tions are about, at this stage,
but what Mr. Rabin has
carefully avoided saying.
Still, the most these
. statements probably would
have earned her was a slap
on the wrist, in private, had
.t not been for two other
"provocative" comments on
matters touching upon re-

"In an age when man is
flying to the moon," Ms.
Aloni complained in an
interview with an obscure
educational magazine, "the
religious schools continue to
teach that the world was
created in six days." Bold
headlines ensued. And if
such blasphemy weren't
enough, she followed it with
a call to reinstate a secular
Yizkor memorial prayer,
composed in 1920 by Labor
leader Berl Katznelson, in
services for fallen Israeli
The Katznelson piece had
in fact been read at these
ceremonies — along with the
traditional El Ma' ale
Rachamim prayer — for over
three generations and had
been replaced only recently
(due to pressure from Or-
thodox circles) by the tradi-
tional Yizkor prayer. The
former begins: "May the

The moment Mr.
Rabin stopped to
take a breath, the
old political shtick
rushed in to fill the

people of Israel remember,"
the latter: "May the Lord
remember." But since few
Israelis — and even fewer
Orthodox Israelis — paid at-
tention to the wording, or
were even aware of the exis-
tence of two versions, her
remark led to gross confu-
sion, misrepresentation, and
misplaced outrage.
Shas promptly accused her
of trying to rewrite the
prayer book and replace
"God" with "the people of
The party's patron, Rabbi
Ovadiah Yosef, called Mr.
Rabin to vent his rage about
what his Ashkenazi
counterpart called "that
wicked woman." Mr. Rabin,
for his part, was furious with
Ms. Aloni for rocking the
boat with superfluous
remarks, and the media was
awash with rumor that she
would be sacked.
Instead, though the entire
country pounced on Ms.
Aloni — with the press,
Laborites, and even mem-
bers of her her own party
decrying her "big mouth"

A member of the ShzIs party confers with Simon Peres.

ment, it will not necessarily
and inability to behave as
behooves a minister, rather
As long as it has the sup-
than a member of the opposi-
port of the two Arab parties
tion — a compromise was
outside the coalition, it can
struck. Ms. Aloni apologized
in writing to Rabbi Yosef;
Mr. Rabin confined himself
to rebuking her; and as
everyone went home to his
Rosh Hashanah feast, it was
assumed that the flap, like
the old year, had been laid to
If anything rivaled the
media's coverage of the
Except that Shas had other
Aloni affair last week, it
ideas. Seeing how Ms. Aloni
was talk of the tension
had been pounced upon by
that has resurfaced bet-
one and all, Interior Min-
ween Prime Minister
ister Aryeh Deri emerged
Rabin and Foreign Min-
from the two-day holiday
ister Shimon Peres. Their
with a new ploy to keep the
rivalry, which utterly
pot boiling. He no longer
preoccupied the Labor
asked that Ms. Aloni be
Party for its years in op-
fired; now he called for her to
position, was supposedly
shifted to another, less
buried after the prime
"sensitive," cabinet post. At
minister appointed Mr.
first it sounded as though
Peres as his foreign min-
Shas was going to make this
ister, although he kept
demand an ultimatum. In
control of the bilateral
response, Mr. Rabin warned
and relations with
Shas that if it left the coali-
the United States to
tion, the alternative would
himself. Even when
be a national unity govern-
everything seemed to be
ment with the Likud (though
going fine, the press kept
the Likud showed not the
speculating about
least sign of being inter-
pressure building up be-
neath the surface and
In the end, the Shas politi-
when it would finally
cians left the decision about
gush forth like a geyser.
the future of the coalition to
Now, according to
the venerable rabbis of their
Hadashot, the tension has
Council of Sages. The word
already done some
in the Orthodox press is that
damage to the peace pro-
the party will leave the
government after the holi-
Hadashot reported that
days. But that's a long way
when Mr. Rabin was re-
off, in political time, and
cently in Germany, his
much can happen before
foreign minister reached
an understanding about a
Meanwhile, it's hard to say
meeting with Syrian For-
that the country is par-
eign Minister Farouk a-
ticularly in a stir about the
Shara that had President
prospect of a coalition crisis.
Assad's blessings. Mr.
For one thing, Shas has
Peres then met with
chosen a strange time to
French Foreign Minister
serve it up. The holidays are
Roland Dumas, who
a three-week period when
subsequently traveled to
much of the country is closed
Damascus. The Fren-
down, and most Israelis are
chman's visit there was to
tuned out. What's more,
have been a secret, but
those who are paying atten-
someone in Mr. Peres'
tion know that even if Shas
does abandon the govern-

beat a no-confidence vote —
though this would be only a
stopgap measure, and Mr.
Rabin would have to shore
up his government with one

Is The Rabin-Peres
Honeymoon Over?

retinue leaked it to Israel
TV's correspondent in
Paris, who promptly
broke the story, making it
seem as if Israel's foreign
minister was behind a
French attempt to medi-
ate in the peace process.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rabin,
who did not yet know
about the agreement on a
meeting with Mr. a-
Shara, interpreted the
"Dumas mission" as his
own foreign minister's
meddling in his backyard.
Upon returning to Israel,
he made it quite clear
that there was only one
channel for peace making
— the negotiations in
Washington — and that
anything else was irrele-
vant. The Syrians, who
interpreted Mr. Rabin's
move as an effort to
sabotage the meeting
with Mr. a-Shara,
promptly cancelled it.
Since then, much has
been published to the
effect that, left to their
own devices, Israel's
prime minister and for-
eign minister get alone
fine; any tensions spring
from their respective
aides. Still, coming in the
same week as the Aloni
flap, the Hadashot story
does little to enhance con-
fidence that bruised egos
and peevish behavior will
not impede the work that
Israel's government has
set out for itself.


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