JERUSALEM (Sep. 20)
The former director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, David Kimche, explained his country’s foreign policy to a high-level Soviet audience in Moscow last week.
The event, the first of its kind, marked a significant advance in Soviet-Israeli understanding.
In fact, the Soviet official who hosted the exchange admitted it would have been unthinkable even a year ago.
Kimche, who now heads Israel’s Council on Foreign Relations, sponsored by the World Jewish Congress, came to Moscow as the guest of the Soviet Institute for Foreign Relations.
He was reciprocating the visit of the institute’s head, Professor Radomir Bogdanov, who was the guest of the Council on Foreign Relations in Israel earlier this year.
Kimche spoke on Sept. 14 to about 300 people who packed the lecture hall. Many stood in the entrance to hear the Israeli. The audience included Soviet diplomats, defense officials and other foreign policy experts.
Representatives of the Soviet Foreign Ministry responsible for the Israeli and Middle East desks were present, as were officials who have completed tours of duty in Israel as members of the Soviet consular delegation set up in Tel Aviv two years ago.
Also present was Arye Levin, head of the Israeli consular delegation in Moscow.
Bogdanov, who gave Kimche an effusive introduction, observed that the institute has received ambassadors, politicians and lecturers from many countries, but that this was the first time he had welcomed an Israeli speaker.
He chided Kimche for not always having positive attitudes toward the Soviet Union.
The Israeli discussed the peace process, his country’s attitude toward the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel’s call for Palestinian elections.
A question-and -answer session followed the lecture. While some remarks were critical of Israeli policies, the atmosphere was friendly and the speaker got loud applause.