NEW YORK (May. 1)
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presented a vision Sunday night of an Israel poised on the verge of both greatness and destruction, whose potential for growth or annihilation is so awesome that the description “apocalyptic” does not seem inappropriate.
In a three-pronged speech here to the Zionist Organization of America, Netanyahu suggested first that Israel is about to be infused with the greatest influx of immigrants from the Soviet Union ever.
Then, acknowledging Israel’s dire financial straits, which could scarcely support the vast needs of these new immigrants, the Likud official said that Israel is about to revolutionize its economy. He urged his audience to “buy, invest.”
Netanyahu then presented a portrait of an Israel now riding a very thin line between continuation and total annihilation. Its fate, he seemed to imply, hangs on the legitimacy the world gives the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Netanyahu cited an April 4 address given in Arabic by Farouk Kaddoumi, the PLO’s so-called “foreign minister,” who said that although the PLO’s methods have changed, the West Bank and Gaza are still the launching pads to liberate Haifa and Jaffa.
“Jewish history is going to be determined right now,” Netanyahu said, his voice becoming more intense.
He drew pointed comparison between the Israel of today, which is being asked to give up its administered territories, and the Czechoslovakia of 1938, which was entreated by Adolf Hitler to deliver up the Sudetenland as “a last territorial claim.”
He recalled that the Times of London editorialized at the time that “Czechoslovakia must choose now which way it must go on ruling an alien people.” The paper urged the Czech government to “choose peace,” he said, drawing an analogy to words often used by Israel’s critics.
“Those who say that a Palestinian state will lead to peace are fatal. It’s a prescription for catastrophic war, not just regular war,” he said.
Instead of choosing annihilation, Israel has offered the Palestinians “another idea,” said Netanyahu. “You can have maximum control of your daily life and we (will) be in charge of security,” he said, giving a broad outline of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s plan for Palestinian autonomy.
But his speech was as full of optimistic predictions as it was grave warnings. He spoke passionately of the changes going on in Eastern Europe, citing his recent trip to Poland and the “glacial change” taking place in Hungary.
“Something is about to happen,” he said. “I think the Soviet Union is radically going to alter its emigration policies very soon, and you will be able to go to any embassy in Moscow” for an emigration visa.
He said the numbers of Jews leaving the Soviet Union today already outstrip the benchmark Soviet emigration figures of 1979.
“History is judging every one of us,” he concluded. “And it is not going to give the Jewish people another chance. This is it.”