In the midst of fending off a no-confidence vote this week in the Knesset over his party’s alleged campaign finance abuses, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was informed that three Israeli soldiers had been killed in a fierce Hezbollah terrorist attack in southern Lebanon. Another Israeli soldier had been killed there just a week earlier.
When Moshe Livne came to New York earlier this year, Israel’s new deputy consul general here set an unusual mission as one of his top priorities.
“I want to work on relations with Latinos,” said the former ambassador to El Salvador, who is fluent in Spanish.
Latinos, the fastest-growing ethnic segment in New York, are as disparate in location throughout the five boroughs as in their cultures, economic class and lands of origin.
The criminal investigation launched against Ezer Weizman, Israel’s president for the past seven years and one of its most respected leaders, has rocked a country that was recently stunned by the very public probe of its former prime minister. And coming on top of a series of other high-profile corruption cases, it has forced many Israelis to question whether their nation has lost its moral compass.
Speculation that an Israel-Syria peace treaty could cost up to $65 billion was brushed aside by Sen. Arlen Specter following a trip to Israel, but the Pennsylvania Republican said a way would be found to come up with the necessary funding from a host of nations.
In addition to wanting to get back the Golan Heights, Syrian President Hafez Assad also is hoping that normalized relations with Israel will help improve the faltering Syrian economy —and Israeli officials already are preparing for that.
“We are mapping the Syrian economy to see what kind of trade avenues could be opened,” said Reuven Horesh, director general of Israel’s Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Moshe Maoz, a professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at the Hebrew University and former director of the Harry S Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace in Tel Aviv, is a recognized expert on Syria and Lebanon. Maoz, 64, and the father of two, lives with his wife in Jerusalem. He was interviewed while visiting New York as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright prepared for her visit this week to Damascus.