Sacher: Israel Not Drunk with Victory

Michael M. Sacher, chairman of the Joint Israel Appeal, said that Israel “would make serious compromises for the sake of peace,” given a reasonable territorial settlement. But he warned that for the coming months at least, it will have to maintain a strong standing army in the field with all that entails in terms of losses to the economy. Sacher, who just returned from a visit to Israel, made his remarks in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“Despite the military achievements, the Israelis are not drunk with victory and not hungry for conquest,” he said. He said morale in Israel “is not bad” but “it would be more accurate to describe the mood as lack of joy at the achievements on the battlefield. There is no doubt, Sacher observed, “that Israelis at all levels are pleased to see diaspora Jews. Their sense of isolation, latent at all times, was heightened during the war, and they like to feel that they are not alone, which they are not as far as the diaspora is concerned.”

But, he added, “It is quite evident too that Israeli society has suffered a shock from which it has not yet recovered. The shock was caused by several factors: the heavy casualties in Israeli terms; the ferocity of the fighting; the disturbance of the economy; the tragic problem of the prisoners of war, especially those wounded; and the uncertainties at the political level.”

“I would say,” Sacher continued; “that given a reasonable approach to a territorial settlement the vast majority of Israelis would make serious compromises for the sake of peace, and the government would have a reasonable settlement endorsed by the people. Now we have a cease-fire but it is quite clear that, during the coming months, at least, Israel will have to maintain a strong standing army in the field with all that entails in terms of loss to the economy. The responsibility of the diaspora will remain as great as it was during the actual hostilities. The social services, education, aliya, in short the quality of life in Israel can only be maintained with the help of a tremendous effort by the diaspora on behalf of Israel.”

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