Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Zbigniew Brzezinski arrived late Tuesday at the Sheraton Park, explaining that, "I had to practice my belly dancing. You know one must always be prepared, in the age of the ERA. You never know when you might be called upon to perform."
As it turned out, the only dancing he did was on the ballroom floor, chiefly, with Mrs. Ashraf Ghorbal, wife of the Egyptian ambassador and sponsor of last night's $100-a-plate Faith and Hope Ball. A total of 1,060 tickets was sold, the proceeds going to support Wafa Wal Amal (Faith and Hope), a hospital and rehabilitation center being built in Egypt.
Brzezinski, one of the few members of the Carter administration who was present, was in a particularly jocular mood as he played dinner partner to Mrs. Ghorbal. He was reminded of an evening several months earlier when his Camp David roommate, Hamilton Jordan, had made a celebrated remark about Mrs. Ghorbal's decolletage. Unlike Jordan, he said, "I'm interested in geography, not topography."
As for reports that Cyrus Vance had edged him out in the power struggle following Camp David, Brzezinski said that it was "a nonexistent feud over nonexistent issues." As for the problem of an encore after Camp David, he predicted, "We'll find something spectacular to do. After all, there are still a few problems left."
The evening's fare was a curious blend of American and Egyptian motifs: cocktails and potato chips to begin with, and a menu that included filet mignon and fried eggplant, lima beans, pilaf and Baklava. An Egyptian red wine, cultivated near Alexandria and tasting like a fairly good Bordeaux, was served with the meal. A few unfilled glasses here and there indicated that there were some devout Moslem's at the dinner, but they seemed to be a small minority.
The entertainment ranged from Pearl Bailey, who conducted a hilarious auction after the meal, to Nagwa Fuad, who was described as "the world's greatest belly dancer" and who flew in from Egypt with her troupe specially for the occasion.
Among the guests was House Speaker Tip O'Neill, (D-Mass.), who dropped in for cocktails and then had to hurry off. "One thing I admire about Sadat, and Begin too, is the way they are in tune with their people," O'Neill said. "They both knew that their people wanted peace." Asked if he could say the same of President Carter, he observed wryly. "Jimmy's doing all right. He taught me a lesson the other day, didn't he?" He was clearly referring to the support Carter had managed to raise for his veto of the water projects in the public works hill, against O'Neill opposition.
Herbert Wazers, an assistant administrator for foreign aid under presidents Kennedy and Johnson, observed that the ballroom was largely filled with Americans and Egyptians who are currently attending a joint conference in Washington.
'This room is full of the smell of new business opportunities in Egypt since Camp David," he said. "Look, there's a big Bank of America contingent, a big Chase Manhattan group. I'd say it is a pretty solid-citizen audience."
Mrs. Ghorbal said that the dinner-dance, the first held for this charity in the United States, had been planned last March before anyone had any idea of what would happen at Camp David. The timing, she said, was arranged to coincide with the businessmen's meeting and also with the availability of Nagwa Fuad. "We wanted the top here tonight," she said. "If you export it, it has to be best."
The timing was unfortunate in one respect: The dinner dance was held in the middle of the Jewish High Holy Days, on an evening that Jews traditionally observe with fasting. For the next event of this kind, a different date might result in some surprising new faces in the crowd.