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The naming of America's new ambassador to Israel
reflects the Clinton administration's pro-Israel
JAMES D. BESSER WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT
s recently as 1978, Jews —
groundskeepers alike —
were unofficially banned from
serving at the American embassy
in Tel Aviv because of concerns
about "dual loyalty."
Now, a longtime Jewish ac-
tivist and former director of a
think tank associated with the
pro-Israel lobby is about to get
the nod as America's ambassador
During his Middle East swing
this week, Secretary of State
Warren Christopher confirmed
that Martin Indyk, currently se-
nior director. for Middle East af-
fairs at the National Security
Council and special assistant to
the president, will be nominated
to replace Edward P. Djerejian,
Who is retiring to head up the
James A. Baker III Institute for
Public Policy at Rice Universi-
Before his NSC appointment,
the Australian-born Mr. Indyk
served as director of the Wash-
ington Institute for Near East
Policy, a Middle East think tank
created by officers of the Ameri-
can Israel Public Affairs Com-
mittee. Before that, he was
AIPAC's deputy research direc-
During his tenure at the Clin-
ton White House, Mr. Indyk was
a key player in administration ef-
forts to boost the Mideast peace
process. He also has pushed for a
tougher approach to the spread
of Islamic fundamentalism — a
focus that should further endear
him to the Israeli government.
What does it all mean?
"On the surface, it's one more
example of an administration
that has leaned over backward to
be friendly to Israel," said Robert
0. Freedman, a professor of po-
litical science at Baltimore He-
brew University and a leading
Middle East expert. "It's part of
a series of pro-Israel actions by
this administration. This is the
latest and the greatest."
Mr. Freedman discounted
speculation that the appointment
of an overtly pro-Israel activist
pointed to a new administration
effort to pressure Israel.
"That's the suspicious inter-
pretation," he said. "If you were
getting ready to squeeze Israel,
who would be better than some-
body like Indyk? However, this
administration has been so pro-
Israel in everything it's done that
it strains the credulity to think
this is part of their motivation."
Other observers suggest that
while Mr. Indyk's pro-Israel are
unimpeachable, his skills as a
diplomat are untested.
And there are concerns that he
will be hard to replace at NSC,
where he has brought a strong
pro-Israel voice into the decision-
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t is part of the conventional
wisdom of the 1990s that or-
ganized labor in this country
is on its last legs.
But to the Israeli government
— a Labor party government, af-
ter all — a strong connection be-
tween the American and Israeli
labor movements is a key ingre-
dient in the "special relationship"
between Washington and
Strengthening those bonds is
the job of Ceremia Padan, coun-
selor for labor at the Israeli Em-
bassy in Washington.
"Governments change, but so-
cial structures change much more
slowly," she said in a recent in-
terview. "We've had very good re-
lations with the unions that go
back even before the establish-
ment of Israel. We have delega-
tions going back and forth,
learning from each other."
Through her work with unions,
she said, she helps create more
personal bonds between Ameri-
cans and Israelis by focusing on
common issues — civil rights, the
rights of workers and programs
to help workers cope with a
Those issues were the focus of
a speech she gave in June to a
major African-American labor
group — their first meeting with
an Israeli official.
She also works with federal au-
thorities to improve the lives of
workers in both countries.
PROFILE page 44