Eban: ‘israel is Now in a State of Moral Anguish’

“Israel is now in a state of moral anguish. We are trying to weigh the losses and gains of a very dramatic summer. We have to ask: have we really eliminated the PLO? Was it worth the loss of nearly 400 of our young men to move the PLO from Beirut to Damascus?”

This statement was made here by Israel’s former Foreign Minister Abba Eban in an address to 2,500 people attending the opening session of the B’nai B’rith International convention. Eban, now a Labor Party member of the Knesset, said there is a division of opinion in Israel about issues arising from the war in Lebanon.

“Diaspora Jews should take pride in the fact that Israel is a pluralist democracy and they (diaspora Jewry) need not be afraid of stating their own views on issues. Diaspora Jews should not be inhibited.” Eban said the dissent among Jews is “about really two wars: the war of the Galilee and the war of Beirut. Each stands in its own pattern of justification.”

NATURE OF THE DISSENT

He added that there was no real dissent in Israel over the war of the Galilee, “Jews in the north (of Israel) are entitled not only to protection from attack, but also from the threat of attack.”

The dissent, Eban asserted, is over the war in Beirut. “Those who favored this war wanted to remove the PLO, stabilize Lebanon, elect a Lebanese President, and have peace from Lebanon to Egypt,” he said. But he added that he does not believe that the PLO has been removed as a threat.

Eban criticized world leaders for sympathizing with PLO chief Yasir Arafat when, they should be sympathizing with the Palestinian people. Arafat, he charged, “is the author of their suffering.”

The Israeli diplomat said there are two questions about the war in Beirut: (1) how not to lose it and (2) how to bring it to a successful conclusion. He said that Lebanon is not stabilizing. “You can trust that Lebanon will disintegrate by the hand of its own people. There is a total lack of national solidarity. Israel’s function is not to rebuild or stabilize Lebanon but to insure the stability of Israel,” Eban said. “We are learning about the limited ability of war to bring about peaceful objectives.”

CRITICIZES THE UN AND THE MEDIA

Eban called the attempts to exclude Israel from United Nations agencies “monstrous” and “shoving complete contempt for the UN Charter.” He expressed the hope that Canada would join the United States in opposing this action.

Eban also assailed the news media for applying “double values” in discussing Israel, stating that he would have more respect for press if it had shown equal interest in terrorism and killings in other parts of the world.

The B’nai B’rith convention opened Sunday with a record 1,400 delegates and guests.

NEXT STORY