Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 1988, Page 23
Issues On the Record
Israel Corrals Soviet Jewish "Dropouts": After more than 90 percent of the Jews who left the Soviet Union in May with emigration visas for Israel "dropped out" to head for the United States instead, the Israeli government announced that henceforth Soviet Jews who receive Israeli visas will be flown directly from Moscow via Bucharest to Israel. Although U.S. Jewish organizations protested the Israeli decision to deny Soviet Jews the freedom to choose their ultimate destinations, Davar columnist Haggai Eshed said Israeli visas were being "misused for the purpose of transportation from one Jewish diaspora to another." American Jewish organizations, he said, are concerned about the dwindling U.S. Jewish community and "prefer to solve their demographic problem instead of ours." This year, of 4,672 Jews who had left the USSR by the end of May, only 613 went to Israel.
King Hussein Drawing Away From U.S. Peace Process: King Hussein of Jordan, whose opening speech at the Algiers Arab summit conference strongly supported the PLO's claim to represent the Palestinian people and put visible distance between himself and the U.S. "peace process," reportedly feels appalled and betrayed by Secretary of State George Shultz's unwillingness to confront Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir over the latter's rejection of any land-for-peace formula.
Israeli Retired Generals Advocate Withdrawal: A council of 350 retired Israeli generals, scientists, and academics has announced its support for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories in exchange for peace. Retired Brig. Gen. Ephraim Sneh said three AWACS planes would provide more effective early warning to Israel than the entire West Bank. Retired Maj. Gen. Yossef Geva described peace as a "security asset." He explained: "Peace is worth territories-more peace is worth more territories." Retired Brig. Gen. Avigdor Ben-Gal said: "If there were no Arabs in Judea and Samaria, we wouldn't have to. . . give up our dreams. But there are many Arabs and few Jews. . . I want them to stay where they are, and I want to stay where I am. For 40 years we've been in bed together. There's no sex, there's no love. Let's get divorced."
AID Finances Israeli Overseas Programs: The U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) has agreed to provide $5.6 million to finance Israeli training and technical assistance projects in 17 developing nations, including some that do not have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. This will continue programs that gave Israel $12 million for this purpose over the past three years. The programs resemble U.S.-funded Israeli development projects in Africa before the June 1967 war, which were interrupted when the African nations broke diplomatic relations with Israel. Some African governments subsequently charged that Israel had used its U.S. funds to set up Mossad intelligence networks and bribe local military and government officials.
"Cold Peace" Between Israel and Egypt: Israel's Yediot Ahronot corresponent Smadar Perry reports from Egypt that against the backdrop of the Palestinian uprising, the status of Israeli-Egyptian relations had deteriorated from "formal peace" to "cold peace." Orientalist Professor Shimon Shamir, Israel's next ambassador to Egypt and a long-time advocate of improved Israeli-Arab relations, is in for a "cool reception," according to the correspondent, and will find it necessary "to develop thick skin."
Mrs. King Supports Mubarak Awad: Coretta Scott King was among Americans who supported Palestinian non-violence advocate Mubarak Awad before his deportation by Israeli authorities June 13. In separate letters to Israeli Prime Minister Shamir and Foreign Minister Peres, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said Awad was "dedicated to fulfilling the dream of Jewish-Arab reconciliation and brotherhood" and exhibited "strong personal commitment" to her husband's "principles of non-violence as a way of resolving conflicts."
Noriega Has Israeli Ties: The Atlanta Constitution reported that "Panamanian strongman Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega owns two palatial houses in Israel and at one point discussed with Israeli officials the possibility of living in exile there." In a story based upon United Press International and other wire service reports, the newspaper quoted a U.S. intelligence source as saying, "The relationship between Israel and Noriega is certainly there and goes back for some time. Panama is very important to Israel." The report also said Michael Harari, a former Israeli general and intelligence official, "has worked closely with the Panamanian leader and trained his bodyguards." Previous reports have linked Israelis to drug smuggling and money laundering through Panama.
Confessions of a Scoundrel: Guido Orlando, an 80-year-old former press agent, died in Hollywood May 27. Among the publicity stunts he revealed in his 1954 book Confessions of a Scoundrel was a scheme to link the name of a 16-year-old school girl from St. Louis romantically with that of then-King Farouk of Egypt. The girl's father wanted publicity for his chain of hamburger stands and her mother wanted her daughter to break into the movies. Orlando arranged to have the girl photographed as she stepped forward to introduce herself to King Farouk in the hallway of a French hotel. Then Orlando positioned the family in advance of the king wherever he traveled. Whenever she encountered the king's party, the girl's mother would begin to shriek that the Egyptian monarch was pursuing her daughter across France. Hamburger sales skyrocketed, the girl got a film contract, and the tabloid press had a field day "covering" the king's amorous adventures.
Arab Like Me: In an Israeli version of Black Like Me, a first-person account by a white journalist of his experiences in the America of the 1950s disguised as a black, Israeli journalist Yoram Binur has twice created an identity for himself as a Palestinian Arab from the West Bank town of Nablus seeking employment in Tel Aviv. His published account describes a beating by Israeli soldiers and right-wing Gush Emunim demonstrators, and the pervasive fear of Israeli police brutality among young Arab men. Summing up the overwhelming feeling of oppression shared by Arabs in Israel, Binur writes: "In the morning we (Jews) are their bosses, in the afternoon we are the army, in the evening we are the police, and in the night we are security agents."
Liberty in Grafton: A plan to name a new public library in Grafton, WI, the USS Liberty Memorial Library to honor 34 crew members killed and 170 wounded in an attack on a U.S. Navy ship by Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats during the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war was the subject of a June public hearing by the Grafton Organization for Library Donations. Two former crew members traveled to the Wisconsin town to describe the attack and the official cover-up that followed, and to express their appreciation on behalf of the USS Liberty survivors association. Representatives of the Milwaukee Jewish Community Council were on hand to protest the gesture. After hearing both viewpoints, Grafton citizens attending the hearing expressed overwhelming support for the project, with only three dissenting votes.
Coping with Turkish Inflation: Turkey put into circulation in May a 20,000-lira ($15) banknote. Value of the 10,000-lira banknote, formerly the highest denomination note in circulation, had been whittled away by inflation, now running at 75 percent a year.
Diplomatic Odd Couple: Two former secretaries of state, Republican Henry Kissinger and Democrat Cyrus Vance, issued an appeal in the current issue of Foreign Affairs for "restoration of consensus" in American foreign policy. Although they offered a joint prescription of "national purpose" to guide the next president, they had a disagreement of their own on the Middle East. Kissinger opposed an international conference on Middle East peace as proposed by the Reagan administration, while Vance supported it. Both men said, however, that U.S. policy must assert that "Israel should not and cannot stay where it is in the occupied territories."