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November 05, 1993 - Image 112

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-11-05

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

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111

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Israeli Envoy Here
Builds New Bridges

Los Angeles (JTA) — Avi
Granot, an envoy from the
Israeli Embassy in Wash-
ington, is actively courting
different communities in
multicultural and
predominantly Christian
America.
As the first Israeli to hold
the title of liaison to ethnic
and religious communities,
Mr. Granot has an unusual
vantage point for gauging
shifting sentiments toward
Israel.
During a three-day visit to
the Los Angeles area last
week, he got the opportunity
to put that vantage point to
the fullest use.
In a single day, Mr. Granot
had breakfast with Latino
leaders, lunch with Asians
and attended an afternoon
reception for Christian dig-

nitaries.
The evening before, he met
with an African American
delegation.
Mr. Granot believes there
has been a dramatic change
in American attitudes
toward Israel, especially
among mainline Protestant
churches, since the hand-
shake between Yitzhak
Rabin and Yassir Arafat.
Indeed, at the breakfast
with a half-dozen Latino
leaders, there was not even a
hint of the critical comments
and questions common in
past years.
Still, Mr. Granot has occa-
sional problems.
At times, he has to defend
his government's policy
against evangelical Chris-
tians, who believe as
fervently as the most na-
tionalistic Jew in the ter-
ritorial inviolability of the
Land of Israel and who ques-
tion any step that might
alter Israel's boundaries.
Mr. Granot also has had to
dampen his listeners' belief
in the unlimited capability
and clout of Israel and the
American Jewish commun-
ity — two entities often seen
as interchangeable or
synonymous.
"The expectations of what
Israel and the Jewish com-
munity can do are
unrealistically high," said
Mr. Granot. "I generally
urge them to stop expecting
too much from us. It is better
if we can teach them self-
reliance."
The belief in Israeli-
Jewish competence was
borne out at the breakfast
and in subsequent conversa-

tions with four women ac-
tively involved in the Latino
community.
While all listened politely
to Mr. Granot's animated
opening remarks on the
historic accord signed in
Washington on Sept. 13,
their concerns were closer to
home.
The uppermost preoccupa-
tion was with what one of
the women, Linda Griego,
termed "immigrant
bashing," directed foremost
at undocumented workers
from Mexico and Central
America, but deeply felt by
the established Latino com-
munity as a whole.
"Israel considers immi-
grants as an advantage,"
said Tsuriel Raphael, the
local Israeli deputy consul
general, who also attended
the meeting.
Barbara Creme of the
American Jewish Com-
mittee, who organized the
meeting, summed up the dif-

There has been a
dramatic change in
American attitudes
toward Israel.

ference between Israel and
the United States on this
issue.
"The Jewish community
would like to help in chang-
ing attitudes in Los
Angeles," Ms. Creme said.
"The difference is that
Israel welcomes immigrants,
while here we stand at the
border with guns or accept
them as a source of cheap
labor," she said.
With reluctance, the wo-
men voiced some concerns
about the Jewish commun-
ity.
"We have many Jewish
owners on the East Side in
the garment, food and fur-
niture industries, and
almost all their workers are
Latinos," Ms. Griego said.
"We see these men giving
big money to Jewish causes,
but none to the Latino com-
munity."
Rosa Martinez, a teacher
and former mayor's aide, ex-
pressed an apparently wide-
spread perception that Jew-
ish outreach toward
minorities focuses on the
African American commun-
ity.

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