Dovish Israeli Politician Gets Calmer Reception in Los Angeles

Six years ago, when Yael Dayan presented what were then considered ultradovish views at a Peace Now outdoor rally in Beverly Hills, she was shouted down by 200 enraged hecklers, and police had to escort her out of harm’s way.

Last Friday, when Dayan, now a Labor Party member of the Knesset, spoke again in Los Angeles in tandem with a Palestinian representative, audience behavior could fairly be described as decorous.

If her advocacy of a Palestinian state and her castigation of Israel’s decision to deport 415 fundamentalists to Lebanon elicited no standing ovations, neither were her opinions met with significant protests.

True, Orthodox leaders boycotted the occasion after bitterly denouncing the Jewish Federation Council for co-sponsoring her appearance.

And half a dozen stalwarts of the militant Jewish Defense League hurled insults and obscenities at Dayan, as she made her way into the Jewish community building.

In both instances, however, the protesters’ wrath was directed less at her political views than her recent statement that the Bible suggests King David and Jonathan were homosexual lovers.

Indeed, one curious aspect of the event was that no one appeared to object to the appearance of Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, the Palestinian speaker, before a mainstream Jewish audience.

At this event, as at a sparsely attended news conference and during an address to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Dayan was at some pains to stress that her views — including support for an Israeli withdrawal from the territories and establishment of an independent Palestinian state — now coincide with mainstream opinion and government policy in Israel.

POSITIONS FIT FOR A PRESIDENT

To buttress her argument, she invoked the name of Israel’s President-designate Ezer Weizman, who was elected last week. “Every word I say would be endorsed by the next president,” said Dayan.

Barghouthi, a physician and Palestinian delegate to the multilateral peace talks on Middle East regional issues, proposed that a future Palestinian state could serve as a bridge for Israel to the surrounding Arab world. Palestinians, he said, are “actually very similar to Israelis.”

There were few basic disagreements between the two speakers, one being the future status of Jerusalem. Dayan advocated that all of Jerusalem remain part of Israel, although, she said, Arabs in eastern Jerusalem should be allowed to vote on Palestinian issues.

Barghouthi urged that eastern Jerusalem be the capital of a future Palestinian state and that western Jerusalem be Israel’s capital.

“No Palestinian delegation can give in on the issue of Jerusalem,” he said.

Another divergence of opinion emerged on the idea of having a binational Arab-Jewish state.

“If it’s acceptable to you, it’s OK with us,” Barghouthi said at the World Affairs Council.

But Dayan objected strongly to the idea. “That’s impossible,” she said. “We have differences in religion and culture. We want a Jewish state and a Knesset that’s Jewish.”

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