Israel’s New Ambassador to U.S. Will Seek Greater Contacts with American Jewry

Israel’s Ambassador-designate to the United States, Simcha Dinitz told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that one of his major aims in his new job will be to maintain close ties with the American Jewish community and its leaders.

Relaxing in the Prime Minister’s office after a round of briefings and final consultations before his departure for Washington Thursday, Israel’s fifth Ambassador to the U.S. stressed that he would also like to play a strong role in promoting Jewish education. The Israeli government cannot move directly into the field of Jewish education but an Ambassador could do much “in the fight against ignorance not only of Israel but also of Jewishness,” he said. He envisioned playing a role in promoting Jewish values and Jewish education in the U.S. He said he hoped to sit down with the leaders of Jewish education in the U.S. for consultations on ways to improve and to expand activities in this field.

Dinitz noted the unique role of representing Israel in Washington. He said there were three areas of “great interest” in which the Ambassador must involve himself: relations with official Washington–the Administration and the legislative branches–relations with the American Jewish community and relations with the media, youth, the universities and other non-official opinion molders in the U.S.

“We have been fortunate to have had four great ambassadors in Washington.” Dinitz declared. “One of the reasons for their greatness is that each didn’t try to step into the shoes of his predecessor. I know that it’s expected of a new ambassador to bring to his job what special talents he may have. In my humble way, I will try to do just this.”

Dinitz, 42, who succeeds Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin, served until now as Prime Minister Golda Meir’s special political advisor and as Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office. Washington is not new to him. He began his political career in 1952 as a part-time night watchman at Israel’s Washington Embassy while studying at Georgetown University, Dinitz worked in the Embassy’s archives and by the time he completed his masters degree, magna cum laude, he was assistant to the head of information at the Embassy. He returned to Washington in 1968-69 as Minister in charge of information.

ISRAEL’S POLICIES MUST BE EXPLAINED TO U.S.JEWS

In speaking to the JTA, Ambassador Dinitz stressed the necessity of holding continuing consultations with American Jewish leaders on the motivations of Israeli policy. “We take the time to explain this to American colleges, to the Rotary, to the Elks and we also have to take time to explain the motivations of Israeli policy to the Jews. They must not be taken for granted. Because they’re close to Israel, more time should be taken so that they can comprehend what Israel is doing,” he said. He observed that a great deal had been done by previous ambassadors but this was one area where there was no limit to possible efforts.

“There should be fuller and more intimate dialogue and a process of education between Israel and diaspora Jewry,” Dinitz said. He mentioned schlichim, teaching programs and study missions to Israel as ways to achieve this. He said he himself would maintain close touch with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations as the “authoritative roof organization” of U.S. Jewry. Dinitz will be accompanied to Washington by his American-born wife Vivian who comes from Cincinnati. Her parents, Saul and Henrietta Kinsburg, left Cincinnati ten years ago to settle in Israel.

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