JERUSALEM (Oct. 13)
Defense Minister Ariel Sharon called on world Jewry to support Israel in its insistence on meaningful security arrangements in south Lebanon. Sharon made his call yesterday in an address to 1,000 United Jewish Appeal leaders from the United States attending the UJA’s Campaign Leadership Gathering in Israel this week. Sharon met with the group at the West Bank settlement of Elkana. The gathering is led by UJA national chairman Robert Loup and president Herschel Blumberg.
Sharon told the UJA leaders that if Israel “does not stand firm now … we may reach the some situation that we had before the war” in Lebanon. “Nobody wants to move the Israeli troops out of Lebanon more than we do ourselves.” he assured the visitors who responded to this with warm applause.
“But it would be a major mistake if after so many sacrifices and so many casualties we were to move back without solving the problem of the threat of terrorism (returning to) Lebanon.”
Standing on a hilltop in Elkana, from which the Gush Emunim settlers and visitors have a wide view of the entire coastal plain — a spot where Sharon frequently brings visitors to explain his security views, even though no UJA funds are spent on the West Bank — the Defense Minister blamed the free world for compromising with terrorism instead of fighting terrorism. This was an allusion to the receptions given to PLO leader Yasir Arafat by leaders of West European nations, including the Vatican.
In fact, even as Sharon was making this point, Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson of France was preparing to fly to Tunisia to meet with Arafat as part of what French Foreign Ministry officials described as France’s regular and frequent contacts with all parties involved in the Mideast conflict.
NO MORE TERRORIST BASES, EVER
Sharon declared that Israel was determined that no “terrorist bases, headquarters, units” operate against her out of Lebanon ever again. He said that if the U.S. was really interested in peace in Lebanon, it could ensure that the Beirut government signed a formal peace treaty with Israel “or at least start a peace process.” Many in the audience applauded him and pressed him for autographs.
NAVON FOCUSES ON ROME ATTACK
The UJA gathering began Monday evening at Mod in, the ancient birthplace of the Maccabees. The group proceeded directly there after arriving at Ben Gurion Airport to meet with President Yitzhak Navon.
The President dwelt on the Rome terror attack, recalling Italy’s many past kindnesses to its Jewish community. He noted that Jews were not persecuted under Mussolini’s fascist regime, and that Italians were cooperative after the war with Jewish “illegal” immigration efforts to Palestine. He called on Jews abroad to express solidarity with Italy’s Jews who were speaking out against current manifestations of anti-Semitism in their country.
In an official UJA statement, the purpose of the gathering is defined as: “To demonstrate world Jewry’s support of the people of Israel and the solidarity of the Jewish people around the world. They also want to see and hear at first hand what the situation in Israel really is, and what the feelings and reactions of the Israeli people and their leaders are to the recent, troubling events.”