JERUSALEM, Sunday April 1st, 2012—Yoram Ettinger, a former Consul-General to the U.S. and long-time diplomatic official, called on Israel to be “tough” with the United States, at a conference named for the late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, organized by Likud Anglos and several groups, held at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.
- "In Defiance of U.S. Pressure - A Test of Leadership," Full transcript of address by Yoram Ettinger.
- Likud Anglos' Executive Director: Proposals to Cancel Primaries 'Embarassing', Likudnik (Apr. 10, 2012) (Hebrew)
- "Israel's Democratic Crisis: Then & Now," Full transcript of address by Daniel Tauber
- "Buying Peace in the Arab Market: Negotiations in the Middle East," Full transcript of address by Moshe Sharon (Coming Soon!)
According to Ettinger, who also served as the Minister for Congressional Affairs at the Israeli embassy in
Israeli defiance of American pressure actually strengthens the U.S.-Israel
relationship, as counterintuitive as that may seem. Washington D.C.
“[W]hile Israeli Prime Ministers said no and no and no and were rebuked and rebuked and rebuked,” Ettinger said, “the relationship, the scope of strategic and commercial cooperation between the
surged dramatically. And I suggest, because of defiance of pressure and not in
spite of defiance of pressure.” Israel
Ettinger cited anecdotes from his time in
Washington in which prominent
members of the U.S. Senate told Israeli leaders that they need not kowtow to
the demands of the president of the U.S.
in order to receive
In one instance, Ettinger said that a high-level Israeli official had actually offended then-Senate majority leader George Mitchell by stating that
would not resist American
pressure against settlement construction. Israel
In another example Ettinger provided, at a meeting between Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir and Senatorial leaders, Senator Minority Leader Bob Dole told Shamir that while he did not agree with Shamir’s policies, he nevertheless respected him, “because you are tough.”
Ettinger reiterated repeatedly his belief that Israeli prime ministers since Shamir have not been sufficiently tough with the
. United States
U.S. is not seeking a punching bag as an ally in
the Middle East. The US is seeking, in the words of some Texans, from
my time in Texas . . . an
which is led by the meanest SOB in the valley,” Ettinger said. Israel
“When you have the meanest SOB in the valley, you know on a rainy day you can count on that person. I’m not sure that the caliber of leaders since 1992 justifies such expectations.”
Also speaking at the conference was Professor Moshe Sharon, an expert on Arab society who served as an adviser to Menachem Begin during the peace negotiations with
Sharon currently lectures at the Hebrew University
in Jerusalem and
at the Jewish Statesmanship Center.
“The merchandise in the Middle East which
Israel wants to buy all the time is peace,” Sharon said, but “the Arabs see that Israel wants
peace very much, so the price rises all the time.”
More than that,
that the “peace” Israel
seeks, “doesn’t exist in the Arab shops,” yet “ Israel is ready to pay with the
territory, which is a very important thing.”
“Nobody is interested in two states for two peoples,”
Sharon said. They “are
interested in doing everything possible in order to destroy the State of Israel,
and if possible even to kill every Jew in this country.”
Likud Anglos Executive Director Daniel Tauber, the first speaker of the evening, discussed Begin’s contributions to Israeli democracy, specifically Begin’s promotion of the concept of the “loyal opposition” and breaking the domination of the Labor movement over Israeli politics.
Tauber said that the current challenge to Israeli democracy was
party-based system, calling it a “miphlogatia,” which encourages sectarianism and “minoritarianism” and
places undue influence in the hands of party insiders and unprincipled vote contractors.
In order to overcome these problems, Tauber called for electoral reform: specifically, for district-based elections for a majority of Knesset seats and for greater public participation in political parties.
Tauber, who was recently elected to the Likud Central Committee, also heavily criticized recently aired proposals to cancel Likud primaries and transfer the power to elect Knesset members from the party’s 120,000 members to the 3,500-member Central Committee or to a new body of several thousands members.
“Instead of empowering the individual, [the proposal] aims to turn him into a freier [Hebrew slang for sucker],” Tauber said. “The party has told you that you have a vote, takes your money, makes you wait almost a year-and-a-half to use your membership rights, and at the moment you’ve been waiting for—the one chance in Israel’s system where you can vote for an actual person—it takes it away from you.”
He said that the proposal was embarrassing for the party and that it should not have been necessary for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is the chairman of the Likud, to declare his opposition to the scheme.
In addition to speeches, the audience was treated to various film shorts, including subtitled footage of Begin’s famous “Tchachtchachim” speech in which he criticized the Labor movement for its anti-Sephardic behavior. Begin gave the speech at the site where a Labor rally had been held a day before, during which comedian Dudu Topaz referred to Sephardic Likud members as “tchachtchachim” a pejorative word for wild or uncivilized people. Begin said that in the Irgun, European and Eastern Jews fought side by side admirably. The speech is considered one of the milestones in Begin’s ultimately successful campaign to lead the government.
Another video shown was a series of man-on-the-street interviews of Jerusalemites speaking about the late Prime Minister and his influence on the country and themselves. The video was produced by Likud Anglos Deputy Director Ariel Pulver.