As Purim approaches, thousands of Israeli children and families grapple with poverty
I had just finished reading The Prime Ministers (Toby Press) and enjoyed every one of its 700-plus pages. Yahuda Avner’s “fly on the wall” account spans the governments of Levi Eshkol (Six-Day War), Golda Meir (Yom Kippur War), Yitzhak Rabin (Entebbe, Oslo), and Menachem Begin (peace treaty with Sadat, attack on Iraqi nuclear reactor, Lebanon invasion), describing sensitive, frightening and sometimes hilarious events, mostly of the kind you will never read in a newspaper.
Avner had served in various capacities – adviser, speechwriter, ambassador, consular diplomat – to all of the above-named prime ministers and as such was present at meetings and privy to conversations between Israeli officials and their counterparts around the world.
I thought it would be instructive to speak with Avner; though aware that The Jewish Press had published a lengthy interview with him shortly after the book was published a little more than a year ago, I was curious as to how the book had been received since its publication.
He agreed to set aside some time to meet with me while on a visit to New York. The ambassador is a genteel man. His demeanor is that of an elegant European diplomat, equally comfortable at an official state function and at a humble beis medrash.
Avner disclosed that he was able to remain as the senior Foreign Service officer on “loan” to the Prime Minister’s Office through four administrations because he had become the “institutional memory” of that office. He was always apolitical, walking out whenever the discussion turned to parochial politics. He recorded every conversation using his own shorthand, and after every meeting dictated the minutes of the proceedings for posterity.
When I asked him about the reaction his book had garnered, he told me he was besieged by demands on his time for speaking engagements all over the world, to the extent that he had to hire a publicist who handles his speaking engagements and schedule.
I wondered whether there had been complaints from any of the individuals mentioned and/or quoted in the book.
“To the contrary,” he replied. “I made it a policy that before I published any incident or quoted any person, I would send a draft manuscript to the protagonist for his or her comments, but only as it related to the accuracy of a particular incident or quote.”
Thus, every story and quotation was “vetted” by those involved, and the reaction has been very favorable.
Avner has heard from readers from every part of the globe who have praised him for his candor and his remarkable ability to quote, verbatim, occurrences of a half a century ago.
I asked Avner how he could quote persons on the other side of a phone call while he was present in the room on the Israeli side. He told me a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, who happens to be a good friend, shared with him notes he had sent to the State Department based on conversations on the other side of these phone calls which had became known to him through his own channels.
We discussed the challenge of Avner’s being strictly shomer Shabbos in an environment that, at least until Menachem Begin became prime minister, was not particularly sensitive to “Shabbos” issues. Avner noted with a laugh that he found that most political and governmental crises occurred Erev Shabbos. He cited as an example the time Henry Kissinger and Yitzhak Rabin engaged in a rather stormy meeting in Jerusalem late one Friday afternoon.
Kissinger stormed out, slammed the door to the Prime Minister’s Office, and prepared to complain to the world press about Israel’s obstinacy. Rabin immediately ordered Avner to prepare and distribute a press release relating Israel’s version of the collapsed talks. On the grounds that “a press release was not a vital Israeli security matter but only hasbara” – public relations – Avner said he would not desecrate Shabbos by writing one.
About the Author: Daniel Retter, Esq., is the author of the sefer “HaMafteach” (Koren Publishers), an indexed reference guide to Talmud Bavli and the Mishnayos, in Hebrew and English. A frequent contributor of feature articles to The Jewish Press, he practices immigration, real estate, and business law in New York City. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Ultimately, Esther, Netanyahu, and we, the Jewish people, must and will rely on the true King, God, for our salvation from this genocidal threat.
Netanyahu addresses a clear, present & lethal threat to the US/Israel/WORLD; NOT political bickering
Buried in the tax-returns of the JCF is millions of dollars funneled to NIF in the last few years.
Obama & Putin have handwriting/signature clues indicating differences between public & private life
It’s time for a new Jewish policy regarding Ramallah, NOT just because of the yarmulke incident
“GETT’s” being screened for Israeli Rabbinical Court judges at their annual convention.
If Jackson were alive he’d denounce Democratic party’s silence towards virulent anti-Semitism
Victim of Palestinian Arab terrorism, a victor in NY federal court, after years of being ignored by Justice Dept.
March 2013: Arabs hurled stones hitting the Biton’s car; Adele’s mother swerved the car-into a truck
I can tell you that Cablevision has been astonished at how high we rank.
The real issue is that in many respects the president has sought to recalibrate American values and our system of government.
Former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, writing in the Washington Post on Sunday, provided one of the clearest and most compelling analyses we’ve seen of the importance of the prime minister’s speech.
During the Nazi period, as bad as the Germans were, no German politician ever declared openly a desire to exterminate the Jews.
Almost immediately the audience began singing and clapping and continued almost without stop throughout the rest of the concert.
The climate is near perfect. From November through May the weather is dry and warm. June through October is referred to as the rainy season, though the weather is still comfortable and the occasional showers barely interfere with touring, sporting activities or sunbathing.
Twenty-seven-year-old IDF Lieutenant (res.) Aharon Karov completed the New York City Marathon earlier this month, less than five years after an explosion in Gaza left him near death.
There’s an eerie silence and tears can be seen running down the faces of young parents and elderly grandparents and siblings of all ages.
There was a time when an Orthodox Jewish traveler, offered a choice of visiting London, Paris or Rome, likely would have put Rome last on the list. Today, that would be a big mistake. Rome is a marvelous place to visit, especially for a religious Jew interested in the historical roots of the post-Second Temple Diaspora.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-prime-ministers-i-liked-the-book-so-much-i-had-to-speak-with-the-author/2011/11/16/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: