A Public Service Message from the American Income Life Insurance Co.Waco, TexasBernard Rapoport, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer the globe looks much different. And the conflict between these perspectives produces some of these “disconnects.” Third, there has existed and unfortunately continues today to exist a differing assessment in our two governments about the nature of certain Arab governments; Saudi Arabia is certainly the prime example. There are honest differences among our experts and Israeli experts about the nature of the Saudi regime, its future, its intentions, its role, and its prospects. And these honest differences infect the political discussion between our governments with which we are all too familiar. Fourth, there is a differing sense of immediacy about the military threat to Israel. Jerusalem is very close to perceived danger from the sources of terror; close to airbases filled with threatening weapons. Washington is far away from those same sources, and therefore our analysts make different allowances for margin of error in the “threat assessments” which we regularly exchange with our Israeli friends. The margin for error must inevitably be different. Jerusalem will tolerate less. Fifth, I must confess we have a particular problem in Washington. The problem is an endemic inattention to nuance, to complexity, to history, to legal precedent, to the power of words. That attention can be partially explained by the preoccupation of busy men and women with other global crises, but it does seem endemic. It persists from administration to administration. Moreover, we have far less continuity among our Middle East policy makers than does Israel. Eppie Evron has been deeply engaged for much of his lifetime. There are only two of us active today in the Middle Eastern bureau of the U.S. State Department who were centrally involved at the time of Camp David only a little more than three years ago . . . myself and my colleague, Ambassador Roy Atherton in Cairo. That’s the price of democratic transitions. Israel somehow manages to keep more continuity in its policy making and therefore always has a better file on every issue than we do. And I wouldn’t discount this factor because, for the policy official in Jerusalem, words, nuances, tone, understanding of the history and the complexity, are often taken as synonymous with American intent. In fact, I would argue they usually reflect inattention, not intent. And finally, there is something I have called the “megaphone effect.” This is in a way the most pernicious of all. What is it? Because of the disproportion in priority for the Middle East conflict as seen from Jerusalem and as seen from Washington, because Israel is far too dependent today on its one great friend, the United States, too dependent for its good and for our good, every word spoken in Washington, casually or seriously, is magnified through the media a thousand times and given excessive weight by politically sensitive Israelis as if written on tablets of stone. Often that megaphone distorts. We know that Jews are people of the word, of the book. And I’ve come to realize that Israelis usually believe what they read in the papers. I had an experience which convinced me of that shortly after coming to Israel. I was in a meeting. A story was written about the meeting which was 187 degrees wrong. A friend came up to me and accused me of something. I said “Well, it’s wrong; it didn’t happen.” He said “What do you mean, it didn’t happen? I read it in the paper.” I believe in a free press, but the media in Israel and the media in Washington magnify our differences as if through a megaphone. So for all these six reasons there is often a “disconnect’ . . . a short circuit in our relationship. It produces most of the recurrent crises in American-Israeli relations. Seldom if ever do the crises stem from any erosion whatsoever in the deep, historic, bipartisan, American commitment to Israel’s security and permanence. Nor do they stem from some shadowy Arabist plot in the State Department or the Pentagon, much less in the White House . . . any White House. I’ve served seven American presidents. I’ve known four of them personally. I’ve served eight secretaries of state, five of whom I came to know well. I have never met any leader of our government or of our Congress who would sacrifice Israel’s security for cheaper gasoline; or for larger petro-dollar bank deposits. If I had met such a leader, I would not be speaking to you tonight as U.S. Ambassador to Israel . . . a nation about whose safety and future I feel committed second only to my own. In conclusion, therefore, I believe we should step back from the latest U.S.-Israeli diplomatic joust to look at the generally upward course since 1977, indeed since 1973, and acknowledge that the peacemakers are slowly, inexorably winning the day . . . though a long road remains before Israel can achieve that for which every Israeli yearns: Peace with all of Israel’s neighbors. That peace must follow the example set by Israel’s largest most powrful neighbor, Egypt. That peace will serve to fulfill Israel’s ancient dream; it will surely also serve the interest of the other Arab states and of our nation as well. And that is why we have to persevere to achieve that peace along the track we mapped out at Camp David over three years ago. I believe the American role will continue to be essential if we are to achieve success. And I for one am proud to have a small part in it. Never in all of history has any nation worked so unceasingly to help another nation achieve its dream of peace as has our government since 1973 in the Middle East. The fever chart of the negotiations and of our relationship fluctuates wildly for some of the reasons I have suggested. But we will not panic; we will not throw away the medicine or look for another doctor: nor will Israel. Our destinies are entwined; entwined by history, values, families, democratic traditions, religious heritage, and yes, by common strategic interests. Only together can we reach peace, and reach it we must. I’ve tried tonight, at too great length, to share with you some personal convictions; not as a diplomat, but as a participant in the historic events of the last four-and-a-half years. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind about President Reagan’s commitment to the principles I have outlined. He sees a natural de facto alliance between our two free nations, an allliance important to America’s global interests, and so do I. President Reagan is also wholeheartedly committed to continue the search for lasting peace in the Middle East . . . for Israel’s sake and for our own. And so am I. And so are countless others who labor in Israel, in Cairo, in Washington, and in other capitols to expand the Middle Eastern zone of peace now created around Egypt and Israel. Peace between Israel and Egypt, achieved with the help of the United States, has begun to change the face of the Middle East. We must not, we shall not, allow anything to divert us from this course. American Income Life Insurance Company EXECUTIVE OFFICES: P.O. BOX 208, WACO, TEXAS 76703, 817-772-3050 BERNARD RAPOPORT Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21 Alt Tr
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