Looking at Israeli Ambassador Ephraim Evron at the gala dinner for the State of Israeli Bonds last night, you had to wonder. Would he mention the Israeli raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor?
"This is a time to celebrate, have fun, look at the achievements of the past," Evron told an audience of 900 in the bunting-draped ballroom at the Washington Hilton last night.
He quoted Jacobo Timerman, the Argentine newspaper editor now living in Israel:
"'I think the world is demanding too much from the Jews, and very little from those who plan to exterminate them and announce publicly that they will do so when they have the right weapons.'
"'For the Jews, at least for the Jews, this has been a clear reminder of the 1930s,'" Evron read. "We in Israel recognize it and act accordingly, and hope that the majority of American people, and eventually, the American government, will recognize the justice of our cause and support it.
"We are no longer the helpless victims of events -- we are the masters of our fate . . . The heroism of our fighters . . . is proof of that. When and where a vicious enemy makes plans to destroy us, we are ready."
The State of Israel Bonds Washington chapter, like its 60 or so counterparts around the country, oversees the sale of Israel Bonds, the proceeds of which are used for nondefense development. According to ball co-chairman, this year's Washington area sales are expected to reach close to $6 million. Most of the guests last night had purchased at least $3,500 in bonds.
"I believe in the state of Israel as a sanctuary for the oppressed of the world," said Oscar Dodek, a retired radio station owner. He's been buying bonds for years, and this year was no exception. And the attack on the nuclear reactor was fine with him. "I thought it was a fabulous safety valve for the world."
"Likewise," said his dinner partner, Ella Mae Bliden. "I believe the world can count on Israel to do absolutely the right thing."
"We don't get into the politics of Israel," said builder Ralph Ochman, the general chairman of Israel Bonds. "Our interest is strictly helping Israel development."
"I'm here as a guest," said newly elected Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). "I didn't buy any bonds, but I've had great support from the Jewish community." And as for the raid, "I reserve judgment. Israel has explained it as an act of self defense, and frankly, there is some rationale for that."
"I'm not here to speak, I'm here to dance!" said Arthur Burns, the ambassador designate to West Germany. "Do I buy bonds? I never discuss business when I'm dancing."
And as for the raid, "I have no opinion!" Burns protested. He held out a small plate with a single slice of rye bread onto which a waiter lowered slivers of corned beef.
Before dinner was served, Evron presened "Barnum" producer and composed Cy Coleman with Israel's Cultural Award "for his friendship for Israel and all who strive for freedom and peace."
Coleman took a piano on center stage and ripped through some of his songs ("If They Could See Me Now," "Big Spender," "The Best Is Yet to Come"), and a few tales of life on Long Island's tonier shores."When I was informed I would be given this award, I was convinced someone had heard of my credibility to grow trees at my house on Southhampton in soil that makes the Negev look fertile.
"My the Way," Coleman continued, "living next door to the Southhampton Bath and Tennis Club is like having Syria for a neighbor."