It was not your typically sedate State Department dinner. All over the chandeliered Benjamin Franklin Room last night people were pumping the flesh and popping up and down the way pols do at political fundraisers.
California developer Guilford Glazer remembered something he wanted to tell oil tycoon Armand Hammer and between the salmon course and the rack of lamb, off he went. When the former Reagan liaison to the Jewish community, Jack Stein, heard that Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger was at a table near the window, he was out of his chair like a shot.
Secretary of State George Shultz looked a little surprised but also pleased. "It's quite an evening," he said in his toast to Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. "It has a wonderful feel to it. It's fun to be here with you and all your friends."
Certainly it took on a life of its own as Jewish community, religious and business leaders from around the country gave Peres a welcome he characterized as of "exceptional warmth" with "an air of honesty."
"You make me feel right at home here," he told the black tie crowd, most of whom he knew.
Matter of fact, Peres continued, he felt like the Israeli helicopter pilot who was out of fuel and looking for a place to land. He couldn't find any except for an American aircraft carrier. When he finally landed there, the captain asked what he was doing.
"Sorry, sir," the pilot replied, "I thought it was one of our own ships."
A little later, Peres made the point of American largesse another way, and heads bobbed in agreement: "Israel is probably the only country on earth which, despite the fact that the United States has helped her, is still pro-American."
On terrorism, Shultz and Peres presented a united front.
"The crime of terrorism must not be confused with legitimate political processes, nor can it be condoned by civilized people for any reason," said Shultz.
Said Peres: "Over the last weeks we have been working hard not to submit to the shadows of terror or lose the horizons for peace. You stopped a modern world from being frightened and terrorized by a wild group of murderers who thought they could get away with it."
Before dinner National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane said he didn't know where the report came from that Shultz had threatened to resign over a conflict in the administration's antiballistic missile policy.
"Not at any point did we ever have any disagreement on this thing," said McFarlane. He added that he and his wife recently bought a weekend house in Virginia and that they and the Shultzes are going to be together there this weekend. "We've been planning it for weeks."
McFarlane talked briefly with Armand Hammer, who later described to another guest his meeting last June with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
He said Gorbachev told him he wasn't eager about a summit because he doubted anything would come of it. Insisting that something could, Hammer said he told him he thought he'd like President Reagan and Reagan would like him. Soon after that, Hammer saw Reagan in the Oval Office and told him about Gorbachev.
"Then they agreed on a summit meeting," said Hammer.
Was he the catalyst?
"Well, that's what the editor of Pravda said."