WASHINGTON (Jul. 20)
Meir Rosenne, Israel’s new Ambassador to the United States, believes that relations between Israel and the U.S. have always been good because the two countries share the common principles of democracy and freedom and that the reports of U.S. pressure on Israel have been exaggerated.
“I don’t think that the talk about American pressure on Israel is true,” he said yesterday in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in his spacious office in the Israel Embassy here. “It is utterly false.”
Instead, Rosenne argues that the U.S. has used its “good offices” to help Israel negotiate the Camp David agreements, the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty and the recent agreement with Lebanon.
The 52-year-old Rosenne has the credentials to make this point. As legal advisor to the Israel Foreign Ministry from 1971 to 1979, he participated in the negotiations with Egypt and Syria following the 1973 Yom Kippur War and in all the negotiations leading to the peace treaty with Egypt. He headed the Israeli tean for the autonomy negatiations until he was named Ambassador to France in 1979, a post he held until coming to Washington June 5.
Rosenne appeared to arrive at a time of almost euphoric relations between Israel and the U.S. following the Israeli-Lebanese agreement that had been signed May 17. But he stressed yesterday that the reports of a “terrible relationship between our two countries” that had existed since Israel went into Lebanon were exaggerated. He said there were “differences of opinion” but “this does not mean there is a major crisis in the relationship between the two countries.”
REASON FOR THE PROBLEMS
In Rosenne’s opinion, the problems have developed because for the past 35 years Mideast peace has been negotiated between Jews and Jews or with friends because with the exception of Egypt, “the Arab countries don’t want to sit down with us at the negotiating table. “
But, “in order to reach peace in the Middle East there should be negotiations between the Arab states and the State of Israel,” Rosenne said, “But this has been rejected by the Arab states because they hope that peace can be imposed from the outside …. They hope that others will do the job for them either by imposing sanctions” as the European Econonic Community did last year “or by giving the impression that Israel is intransigent.”
But Rosenne said that Israel has shown in its negotiations with Egypt that it was “ready to give up a lot … in order to sign a peace treaty with the first Arab state that was ready to negotiate with us.”
As for Syria, Rocenne noted that since 1948 it was always the last Arab state willing to sign an agreement with Israel. He pointed out that Syria now controls. 50 percent of Lebanon and has never accepted the idea of in independent Lebanon nor ever had an Ambassador in Beirut. “We hope there will be an Israeli Anbassador in Beirut,” he added.
Rosenne is still hopeful that Syria would agree to withdraw. “We hope that the Syrians will reach the conclusion that in 1983 you just can’t dominate a sovereign state and agree to respect the sovereign rights of Lebanon and the territorial integrity of this country,” he said.
Until then, Israeli troops will remain in Lebanon but there will be a redeployment which will be done in a way as not to endanger the lives of civilians or Israeli troops, Rosenne stressed. He said Lebanese troops will take over the positions vacated by Israel and he believes that the Lebanese army is now “numerically and qualitatively” capable of preventing the Syrians from moving into these areas.
ROLE OF ISRAELI REPRESENTATIVE
Rosenne was bom in Isai, Rumania and as a child he saw 10,000 Jews taken and killed from his town by Nazi troops and their Rumanian supporters. His family fled to Palestine and he went to school in Tel Aviv before receiving a Masters Degree in political science and a Doctorate in international law at the Sorbonne. He is also a graduate of the Institute for Advanced International Studies in Paris, He was Israeli Consul General in New York from 1961 to 1967 and represented Israel on various international bodies.
It is this background that accounts for the way he sees his job. “Every Israeli representative knows he is a Jew and an Israeli,” he said, “You represent not only the Jews that live in Israel today, but you also represent all those that didn’t have this privilege of seeing the Israeli flag, those that died in the ghettoes, the concentration camps and all those that fought in the War of Independence.”
Beyond this Rosenne sees his “task” as presenting Israel’s position both to the U.S. government and to the general public. He noted that billions of dollars are spent in “campaigns of villification of the State of Israel.” He specifically mentioned efforts to rewrite history by denying the Holocaust happened and the “selective memory” which forgets that the Jews who left the Arab countries were expelled, leaving behind their property.
Rosenne also sees as his task to “strengthen the ties” with American Jews. He noted that Israel was established by world Jewry and every Jew is a “shareholder” in Israel.
He said it cannot be explained by “logic” why, when a Jew in Moscow is “hit” a Jew in New York is ready to respond with protests; or why even the most assimilated Jew, when he reads a newspaper, looks first for the items on Israel. He noted that when a terrorist incident occurs in Israel the telephone lines to Jerusalem are busy; and when a synagogue is bombed in Europe, Israelis telephone the place where the incident occurred.
“Everything that happens in Israel is the concern of every Jew,” he pointed out. But like his predecessors at the Embassy here, Rosenne does not believe this concern should include public criticism of Israel.
QUOTES THE LATE ALAIN DE ROTHSCHILD
He quoted from a speech by the late French Jewish leader Alain de Rothschild in May 1982 who said that “if you do not agree with something that Israel does and if you love Israel and if you are a Jew committed to Zionism, then you should go either to Jerusalem to express your opinion or criticism or tell it to the Israeli representative.
“But if you come out publicly and criticize Israel, objectively you become the ally of the enemies of Israel because our enemies and the Arab countries that want to destroy the State of Israel, as they have reiterated time and again, will of course use the criticism that is done in good faith in order to villify and in order to create more hatred against the State of Israel. So criticism is accepted if it is not public and it cannot be used as an additional instrument against the State of Israel.”
Rosenne added that “even those that criticize Israel know perfectly well if there is no peace in the Middle East yet it is not the fault of Israel. It is the fault of the Arab states.” He stressed that “all Israel governments, since 1948 until 1983, have asked for only one thing — and that is peace.”