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Behind the Headlines Old Dreams and New Realities

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A general review of the leading press and assessment of European opinion indicates that a shift in attitude via-a-via Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization is a pragmatic one. The hysteria about an oil shortage or embargo has yielded to a cold reality While the populace is either exhorted to or legally limited in the usage of energy there is no overt diminution of such services. Yasir Arafat, boosted by a new India-PLO pact, is depicted as a character rather than a ruffian, a flamboyant who refers to his concept of a secular Palestine state as a vision. “I can dream, can’t I,” he is reported to have said, (Shades of Martin Luther King.)

But the dream is an awareness, or so he thinks, that time is on his side. And once having made a major inroad in the Middle East with such a Palestine state the next step is a giant one towards the realization of that dream.

The deal with India is another major advancement. Whatever Prime Minister Indira Ghandi’s motives–Moslem confraternity, oil for the lamps of Indian beggars, a boot against the Western (read imperialist) countries–they are not immediately relevant to the success of Arafat and the PLO. It enables him to flash out his moderate image. Furthermore, Israelis have been reported talking to his people in Prague. True or not, where there is such smoke there is not necessarily a liar.

The general attitude hereabouts is that Israel must surrender territories and return to initial boundaries but must also be guaranteed independence. How? Nobody says. The generalization is placed alongside the specific program of the PLO and lies there untouched like the traditional Indian sacred cow.

PAYING A DEBT TO CONSCIENCE

Having made this statement consciences are assuaged and homage is paid to the holocaust about which people begin to show less and less interest. Intellectuals take a stand for Israel on UNESCO but the matter is cultural, not political, perhaps ignoring that the freedom of the former depends on the freedom of the latter. Arab petrol dollars penetrate the English economy, France has long since made deals with Arab countries.

Germany is hedging its bets and U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger is slowly being deflated here as a miracle worker. There is also antipathy to whatever he thinks his efforts could produce, especially now in the light of his physical threat to Arab nations.

Who cares then? Israel, of course, does. Its summit position in 1967 as an “elitist” group as De Gaulle called it, is now reduced to a matter of survival against huge odds as well as overt and covert indifference. The world-wide Jewish community generally cares but begins to see anti-Israelism as the seeds of a new anti-Semitism.

Isolated scientific and political personalities make pro-Israel statements and then vanish into the main stream. The benign image of a Holland riding bicycles, while warming Jewish hearts, or an England beleaguered by an IRA and dredging its northern shores for oil, is hardly part of the new solution.

NEED TO ANTICIPATE DEVELOPMENTS

The fact is the world is experiencing a kind of a revolution, or to put it more palatably a process of change with manifestations here and there of violence. And Israel–whose power of self-defense exists–is part of that revolution.

In the politically sophisticated and suspicious world today, the violence of revolutions are muted in non-violent forms, and it is essential not to be deceived by them. It is vital to be a part of the change lest it become overwhelming. Israel doubtless is reassessing its position and the Jewish communities must take note of and anticipate these developments so as to meet them with sufficient insight and management.

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