"For those of you who don't remember me, the name's Fisher," said the familiar-looking man up on stage. "Edwin Jack . . . I'm not going to tell you how old I am, but I will tell you I'm a Leo. And one of my wives was an Aries, another a Pisces, and a Leo, and another Leo . . ."
Entertainer Eddie Fisher took over the mike last night--and also the hearts of many women--at the Israel Ambassador's Ball at the Washington Hilton, singing a medley of his best known songs.
Israel's newly appointed ambassador to the United States, Meir Rosenne, made his first Washington public appearance at the annual ball, which celebrated Israel's 35th anniversary. He replaces Moshe Arens, who left the post to become Israel's defense minister.
If last night was the litmus test, Rosenne is sure to be a success. He had already learned one key to popularity, the art of short speeches: "I would like to reassure you I won't make a long speech," he began, looking out over the 1,000 or more guests, including Energy Secretary Donald Hodel. "And I don't read my speeches--since one diplomat came to Israel and read a speech he had prepared for a group he was to address in Bagdad." Everyone laughed, and then Rosenne grew serious.
He talked about Israel's "gratitude to the Americans . . . all the efforts made by America to reach peace between Israel and Lebanon.
Hope was the recurring theme last night, as one guest expressed a similar thought earlier in the evening. "I have a lot of hope--both in the short run and in the long run," said Jeane Kirkpatrick, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, moments after she had stepped out of the receiving line. Kirkpatrick, looking festive in a creamy white lace dress with a pink bow, seemed optimistic about American-Israeli relations. "I think we have excellent relations. Ambassador Rosenne will fit right in with a long line of distinguished ambassadors."
Kirkpatrick was interrupted constantly. "Do you remember me?" asked one woman who proceeded to mention a party they both had attended. Kirkpatrick answered warmly, sipping her wine.
Large sketches of Jewish entertainers (including Barbra Streisand, Woody Allen, Alan King and Itzhak Perlman) decorated the ballroom walls. "Our theme tonight salutes Jewish stars, past and present, of the performing arts," said Murry Mendelson, president of Murry's Steaks, who cochaired the ball with his wife, Lorita. He continued, solemnly thanking everyone who attended the ball, praising their support of Israel.
Mendelson thanked the patrons--approximately 65, who donated at least $1,500 each, and the guests who had purchased State of Israel Bonds. Then he introduced Kirkpatrick, who picked up publicly where she had left off during cocktails. "I would have been happy to be here to wish Israel happy birthday and welcome Ambassador Rosenne, even if I had not recently been to Israel. We share not only common values, but also common interests," she said of Israel and the United States. "Israel will remain strong, no matter what any U.N. resolution aimed at its delegitimization may say."