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More is Not Better Than Less

Less is better than more. This is the main lesson from the successful summit meeting between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Premier Menachem Begin in Haifa last week. According to Gen. Ephraim Poran, Begin’s military secretary, the summit suffered from an embarrassment of riches.

For example, there was an endless flow of gifts, especially cakes and flowers, which almost smothered Sadat. “Please,” Poran said, “no more gifts in the future.” He also called for a return to “normal dimensions” of official receptions instead of the “carnival” atmosphere during Sadat’s visit. Poran said he thought Haifa “exaggerated a little with its reception ceremony for Sadat. Of course, we are all guilty for approving most of the requests, but we have learned the lesson, and in the future we shall ask that such ceremonies be more modest.”

Aside from the excess of gifts and hoopla, there were also too many dignitaries invited to be on the receiving line. After drastic cuts, there were still 50 persons on the line waiting to shake Sadat’s hand. This was much too much, Poran noted, adding that the custom elsewhere is for 15 or 20 dignitaries to receive the guest of honor.

Consequently, the ministerial ceremony committee will be asked to work out a permanent format for those invited to receive a head of state. “Once we have a permanent format,” Poran said, “the number of those who feel insulted because they were not invited will be much smaller.” Poran said that heavy pressure was exerted by those who wanted to be invited to the state dinners in honor of Sadat. These also will have to be limited in the future, he said.

Some 3500 policemen took part in the security operation that Sadat’s visit involved. On top of this almost the entire navy was on alert during his visit. It is not yet clear just how much the successful visit had cost.

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