tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 20, 2014 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT
and right after that a number of things started developing. first of all, we had a meeting with tohami and started talking about ideas. and i remember one was a manual of what we had in mind. and syria was included. you know, u.s. was -- he tore the piece on syria and gave it back and said i don't know if he said none of my business. i'm sorry i didn't keep it. in any case, then there was a meeting between the two. it was hosted as a reciprocating the visit. he didn't want to invite him to
cairo. it was too much in terms of the arab world. he found this compromise on the canal. and there the differences started popping up in certain ways because while the two leaders were speaking in the general level when it came to the diplomats and lawyers and so on the -- he used to say what is in yiddish which means -- talk less but once you start talking more and more you see the
differences. i hope i'm not mistaken. the two leaders that with bigger termination with the state of war which is good news. by the way this understanding which is pand said who on the street knows what it is go in cairo and jerusalem. what -- so. >> war. 20 years later because was very much keen on the language. that is a different story.
that was not the ideology. and here now come eight, nine months of ups and downs during '78 which were very, very sad in a way because after this climax of the visit there is a period of -- the u.s. it took sometime before it got adjusted to the idea of israel and egypt and abandoned the geneva notion. it was not going anywhere. and the u.s. adjusted and started becoming active. by the way, here there is always or used to be an argument within the israeli establishment. it was very much full american
involvement. [ inaudible ] thought we could finish with the egyptians without the u.s. it continued later on. i think the only -- later on we did have some agreements which the u.s. was on the margins. madrid very involved. >> so the whole story is well known. in any case the '78 meetings and they were not too happy. there was, i remember one of the meetings in february here in washington, you could cut the atmosphere with a knife as they say. it was because it seemed that
president carter is going and we are kind of being the bad guys or whatever we were. and meetings here. camp david. and here comes after a difficult period. and this was almost a gamble by president carter to try to get the promise of the visit being implemented with some kind of an achievement which would include the egyptian front but also something reasonable for the palestinian. and when the invitation came we didn't know what to expect. i remember there were meetings with palestinians.
i attended those meetings. trying to fill their pots. and there was some preparations but it is difficult to do this kind of preparation the proper way because once they leak i don't think washington has leaks ever, but in israel they happen occasionally and the notion is that once you prepare something and you have a fall back, the last fall back becomes your position because it leaks. and we came to the israeli delegation, very few are with us. former chief justice was instrumental there during the last part of the negotiations and a few others are still
alive. we didn't know what to expect. we thought maybe it would be three or four days there and then if we succeed to be, to have a continuity from there that will be fine. and but the u.s. people thought otherwise. and here comes -- i must say i'm very critical, many of us in israel are critical of many things president carter wrote and said over the years since but nobody can take from him the credit of his investment there at camp david cht once you recognize that with all of the criticism that is due for whatever happened. here the u.s. president invests -- these are not easy
times. iran we speak of now. there was iran then that was crumbling. and it was strategic situation in that respect. and here the three leaders that are convening and sometimes there is the notion of bringing people together which represent sort of a rightness. and it seems that despite the idea logical commitments he understood the strategic notion, the strategic major, major achievement that could be achieved. he said towards the end of the conference, said if we succeed with an agreement the joy in
israel would be like in the declaration of independence, something very far reaching. by the way, i didn't mention before that when he came he grabbed the opportunity and when he said he was coming he sent him right away the invitation and made it possible. i mentioned that because these two people were very different in many respects. i don't have much time as henry viii said to each of his wives i won't keep you for too long. these two people were different. he is an educated informant between the two, classic and
legal education. and emersed in jewish culture and jewish history, holocaust and in democracy, human rights, basic rights, ruler of law. and a sense of drama. in that he was similar to he who had a sense of drama. you can have a little who is shy of these things. i don't want to go into names but i worked with quite the number of israeli leaders who would not be seen as having a sense of drama. he had the sense of drama. here is an officer. he was not impressed with language and drafting and all of that. and but he had a kind of a notion, in a way not comparing
but always said this country is not impressed with the little drafting and formulas. he had an idea. soviets, idea. important idea. he had an idea. so here these two people had a sense of drama and the sense of history. and they were there. i think both of them felt that the wings of history were there. and here is president carter ready to invest 13 days. he used to say 13 days and 13 nights. it was 13 days and 12 nights. the first days were just each party giving their ideas and so on with the papers and complaining and so on. and the next eight days were 23 of them or so. and the -- i can speak from the
israeli side. he was very democratic. he had all of us convene every day a few times and his assistant, fine man would put the chair. he was so democratic that everybody could speak. i was the assistant. what was i to express views and opinions. he gave everybody the opportunity to speak out their minds on either ideas and drafting and so on. and there was the palestinian issue. the palestinian issue drew an idea that he brought up on autonomy. the autonomy concepts were very different between what he had in
mind and what the u.s. had in mind. in any case inherent with egypt there was a question. we had settlements there and what do we do with that? and tafter five wars, as i mentioned before, it is not easy to just, you know, do away with this. diane was a major player in coming up with ideas there that if he agrees to give up this villages it will be conditioned upon approval, a vote. which he knew would vote in the affirmative.
so that was the solution to bring it just in a foot note, a year later i wrote a little booklet on the piece story. and this is now the end of '79. and i decided that before i send it to the printer i should give an opportunity to see it. he was the prime minister. because i was in charge of egyptian relations at the time. so a day later i get the phone call. he says it is fine, he likes it. it is a very nice booklet and so on. only one remark. you said we gave up at camp david the settlements. that's not what happened. the prime minister would like you to say that we did not do it
at camp david. we condition it with the approval and that -- please so i changed my sentence and i put it in the way he suggested which was, of course, through. he knew that this was going to happen. and then the palestinian autonomy and some of us were -- humidi humidity -- had the sense. we talk about it but this is not the notion of the agreement, the notion of the agreement was that this was an autonomy and that the angle was put in and some other -- i remember diane telling me. always a pessimist.
i remember him telling me after that, when we were flying from camp david to the signing ceremony in washington that we are not by the agreement, we are not falling in our country. security is being assured. this is something which is very clear in the agreement and some other things. and so of course there were ups and downs there all the time. the jerusalem issue popped up the day before the end of the negotiations. and this was, you know, the red little whatever. he wouldn't listen. a year and a half later i attended a meeting in the white house with carter. this is where the u.s. got to the u.n. resolution on jerusalem
or something. we are on the eve . there is a prayer. behind it a legendary story from the middle ages on a sage who was important when some of the fields are princes and the prince doesn't convert to christianity. he says i will think about it. he comes home and says i'm this. i said i would think about it. he comes back and of course the prince is furious and he dies and then he comes in a dream and gives them this prayer. it's a legend. but says we will dealing with ministers but when you say jerusalem i don't need ministers
and advisers. i say no and that was his notion. he was telling the story to carter. carter just imagined the situation. and never heard about it in georgia. in any case so there was no price. that was the major factor in the achievement. i remember i was in our communication booth there and phone call, somebody from jerusalem says what is going on i said oi because we are not supposed to talk to you. the next day there is a headline in the newspaper, worry israeli delegation and attributed to me. one thing that ended in kind of
a bittersweet notion, the very important achievement was marred by a dispute on settlements. some of you may remember president carter somehow believed that he was promised from refrained from settlement activity until the end of the palestinian negotiation which was kind of an open ended. he promised three months which was a major difference. he was right and carter was wrong in this respect. it was a misunderstanding. i don't think it was anything malicious but it was a misunderstanding. how do i know?
because the man -- the last few days of the negotiations carter smartly chooses to use two people from the egyptian israeli delegations as the drafting group and liaison which will [ inaudible ] was the attorney general and just appointed of supreme court. he was there and he came. we were sitting. he came all the time with the formulas to consult and to explain, to advocate whatever. the last meeting it was relevant was he attended with carter and carter and he has his notes. and he didn't write the memoir.
11 years ago we had the conference here in washington which president carter convened and he affirmed that his understanding and his notes say what -- and carter said it must be a misunderstanding which probably that was the case. but it marred the relationship between them which were not great before, also. and there is a new book on camp david. he brings the formula. let's leave camp david. it had a dramatic end with
carter coming to jerusalem and cairo to finish because it got bogged down. it proceeded very nice. we were here in october, november of '78. it got stuck on basically two major things. one was the relationship between the egyptian treaty and the palestinian autonomy and the other was the arab defense league versus the security commitments that it had with israel. finally it was formulas which are very loyal because they say a is b but b is not a. and it was finished in march of '79. meanwhile there was a lot of
back and forth. i want to -- i will just say something on camp david. i'm sorry for taking your time. the strategic achievement is just so important and these two people there with the president of the united states is the broker. i mentioned what they were. there is always a controversy whether personality matters or ideas matter in the making of history. i believe the answer is simple, both make history, but in that respect the two personalities of the people who made them were so important despite the fact that he had no arab experience, so to speak and the other had no
jewish experience and both came from such different back grounds. that is why the u.s. thought that they shouldn't be meeting too much at camp david. the meetings were rather meager. there were ups and downs thereafter, too. i remember the story that somebody put into a language that he is shy looking. and then i had to respond the messages. but i attended the last meeting between the two in august of '81 in alexandria. as you know in october just five or six weeks later he was assassinated in egypt. the meeting was after the new elections. some other things happened.
and you should have seen these two leaders. they were sitting there for three or four hours, the two of them without the advisers, the administers were all there around. the atmosphere was just cold. and despite the background. and, of course, carter is an engineer. he was the legal pence. he helped them, but he was a man that respected his word. the was no basis to the feeling some people had to not give up despite the agreement. i was sure, i was telling everybody don't think for a minute that he will not fulfill his word. on the other hand she wasn't a middle eastern expert.
we are in the middle east. you sometimes need it. but the agreement was a logical infrastructure to solving the agreement even though for years people were trying to run away from it. while it was controversial in the arab world and in israel by many the mentioned before 30 years of war, 36 years now no war. and while we are not happy i assume we can say that, i mean as a citizen, relate with the development of tourism or economic relations or whatever, i'm sure that the period now shows in terms of its strategic developments and i will not -- my last conversation with diane
was in '81, a few days after the assassination and a week before diane died. i could see his, what he said to me like a will. he said the importance of the peace with egypt and the importance of the relationship with the u.s., these were the two points how to preserve a and how to preserve b. now, i doept have the time to go into the autonomy negotiations which we tried to achieve and we took them seriously. we took them seriously. only the palestinians were not there and egyptians were unable to give up anything while they are not there. so that was one of the major problems.
meanwhile, the administration here changed. president reagan had different agenda. the initial formula was they are not illegal as many administrations have in mind. on this basis many were talked about with the united states. in any case mistakes were made and i don't have the time to go into all of that, but let me just mention, again we have the beginning of strategic dialogue with the u.s. he didn't have a great relationship with sam i presume. in any case at some point he decided to apply the law to the heights in the middle of the
autonomy talks and the u.s. froze that strategic cooperation. we have a period which was not too great. then comes lebanon. lebanon was a period of very, very heavy american involvement including sending people there. and then as america began with the readiness to involve itself with peace keeping there. but then there was the major terror attack on the american soldiers who were unfortunately killed and the u.s. pulled themselves from there. a lot of thijs happened during the period of the summer of '82-'83. there was another point which sam didn't like the u.s. while we were in lebanon in the summer to erase terrorism.
there was an achievement. there was a lebanese president elected. he was hoping for a peace treaty. i have a story about that which we don't have the time to. i remember the -- it was said that the president elect and that he requested him to do it. i wrote a memo. i was the legal adviser saying we shouldn't be perceived as pressuring international law if you have an agreement which is done under duress of people at that time. that could be -- so i get the message to the foreign ministry legal adviser, not the prime minister who wants to meet. the letter came the day he was
assassinated after we prepared the treaty of peace to give to him which was never done. he says to me don't worry we are not going to pressure anybody. that is not our way, but if lebanon will not do a treaty of peace with us after what we did in this war when we erased what happened with the palestinians the presence would be fair. in any case, that summer the u.s. came out with the reagan plan for rejuvenating the autonomy talks. it wasn't really the summer of '82 after a few months of lapse. and was ordered to bring the plan that was prepared in washington and he personally didn't like it as he says because the timing was inappropriate and really he felt
give us a leeway. give us some room to breathe before you come with this kind of idea. of course, it did not much coming out of it. i am just mentioning it as a kind of a description of the ups and downs that we had all the time like those in the lebanon agreement which was achieved by brokering in may of 1983. it did not succeed because syria -- it was a good agreement, was involved. we took into consideration the lebanese sensitivities. it was called an agreement and not a peace treaty. but it gave a hope for a country which is always in such trouble. it didn't work but it had three good effects. it showed that we were
committing to leave lebanon which the time comes and we have no territory claims. and it gave the security zone which we had in lebanon, we had a meaning and it improved relations which were in a low ebb as a result of war time. and that was the last period of the service here for three major achievements. one was that the mega inflation that we had at the time was finished. it was finished. the mega inflation. we finished through american
assistance at the time. and we have had a reasonably good economy ever since. it started the strategic cooperation with the u.s. we institutionalized something which is of importance and still is of importance. and so on. and the free trade zone area. i didn't have the time to go into the sad story and inquiries and so on. this is something which as we look at the eight years of sam's service which the cornerstone of which was the camp david and treaty of peace which made a historic difference to this very day. i don't think anybody in this room would question it did. and the role of the other things, ups and downs and the middle east is the middle east and we live in the middle east.
personally i don't despair from peace at some point in a more comprehensive way. it is 20 years. the peace with jordan. i didn't mention the nfo. you will talk about it. big nice precedent for nonu.n. thing because of soviets. before i finish, one thing which is nothing to do with it i want to mention jonathan pollard. i think it is time this person should be out from jail. i was in charge of the embassy. i heard about his being sent away from the embassy but i was involved in trying to help him and didn't succeed.
i think sam at the end of his life supported that the idea that it is time. many mistakes were made many by israelis and also by americans. enough is enough. it will be 29 years in november. it's time to let this person out. finally, a new year in our calendar and new year in our tradition is also for the whole world. the judgment for the whole world. i would like to wish all of us for the new year that the so vital american-israeli relationship which sam was a guardian of in his day and director, should continue and flourish. i know of the ups and downs.
and i don't despair of peace, either. thank you very much. sorry for having kept you too long. [ applause ] time is short so i didn't have a prepared speech but let me cut what i was going to say significantly. how did i meet with this tremendous diplomat? people often ask me. he recruited me by telephone about 6,000 miles away sight unseen. i had just closed the american embassy. jimmy carter had shocked taiwan by unilaterally breaking relations in the middle of the night. i had to pack off the american
ambassador, close the american embassy and deal with mass riots, demonstrations and so forth and so on and set up the -- for the first time in u.s. diplomatic history instead of the american embassy, the american institute in taiwan which was quite a challenge. thank goodness we had an act of congress to back that up. but i was deeply involved in this post traumatic setup of the american institute when the phone rang and my secretary said tel aviv is calling. i said they got us mixed up with a business outfit. she said no it is the american ambassador, mr. lewis. so i got on the phone and i said i want you to be my dcm. i said i am deeply, deeply appreciative of the offer but i have never been to israel and never studied israel. i don't know the culture and the
language. i want you to be my deputy and given the circumstances that i'm in i don't think my superiors would release me for this because we are in this interesting challenging new phase. the next day he phoned and said your superiors say it is okay. i said, well, i think on this one you would probably have to go to the very top. call me the next day and said i have been to the top and it is clear. why don't you join me? i did join him in washington briefly. when i arrived he said special envoy is leaving tomorrow as the president's special envoy and would you come on the plane and you get to see the country, talk with the staff and so forth, so i did. i flew back on the same flight with robert straus who was a big vip at the time. and who extremely frustrated
with his conversation on the palestine yn autonomy talks and so forth and so on. delivered himself of very trenchant remarks in dealing with him which set off quite a fire storm and introduced me to this roller coaster relationship between the carter and bacon administrations. sam was outstanding in so many ways. and one of them was to handle a flood of congressional visitors and other vips including special envoys, bob straus, fair bank later on, mcfarland. each and everyone of those was a
very, very special mission and produced fireworks in many cases. and sam's goal was and remained grief them, support them in every way you can but the key thing is focus on developing and enhancing this relationship of peace between israel and egypt and hopefully others, as well, along the way. and it was a tremendous achievement on his part. he had fantastic stamina to go up to jerusalem, an hour and 15 minutes or an hour and a half and deal with the prime minister or minister of this or that and then drive back down to israel composing a cable in your mind and so forth and on occasion doing it twice in one day was just amazing. and it went on for eight years day in and day out, night in and
night out so that his devotion and dedication and stamina were paramount in that respect. he was dealing with him during my time. given some personality. here was a man who was the disciple and whose personal secretary was none other than the father of netanyahu. he was steeled and tempered by the horrors of the holocaust where he had his father slaughtered, his mother separately slaughtered, his younger brother slaughtered and his cousin slaughtered. he was a veteran of the soviet seizure. he had been seized on stalin's orders. he had served in three different imprisonments there. he had been tempered by his
earlier experience in israel of which he became commander, a militant organization dedicated to getting the british out so you can get more jews in. for years he was a wanted terrorist. there were posters around. 10,000 pounds for him dead or alive. so he was in a state of hiding, absolute hiding for years in that context. he had 30 years as elliot pointed out in the political wilderness steadily building up a political following which in no small measurement was jews of north africa and the middle east. very important factor in his rise and in his strength. he was shrewd, iron willed, tempered and absolutely
dedicated to the proposition that west bank gaza were an inseparable part of what had once been the jewish kingdom and so it is not occupation but a return, if you will, of these important inseparable parts of what he termed israel. and the same applied at least as strongly if not more so with the concept of undivided indivisible united jerusalem. those were absolutely ribbed approaches on those subjects. i would like with that background to shorten and give you a strong recommendation. read if you haven't. if you have re-read the book "the prime ministers." there you will find eloquent descriptions because he was the
note taker, not the speech writer but speech editor and polisher. he would shakespearize those speeches which he always until his dying days wrote and drafted or dictated himself. and then it would be polished. read that book. i want to go to a particular episode among so many others in the crisis of the roller coaster relationship. it was december of 1981. he had suffered a series of heart attacks and cardiac incidents. his wife was very ill. there had been the bombing and there had been the assassination of sedat and heating up of lebanese situations where the
syrians had in essence taken over the great chunk of the greatest part of lebanon, in fact. and the plo had now gained control of the south and was launching daily and nightly barrages, civilian targets on the lebanese israeli border. against such a background he learned that assad of syria had said we will not recognize israel even if the plo does. of course, the plo had at that time no inclination to recognize syria. we will not recognize them even if the plo does. the foreign minister said you know if necessary we will wait 100 years until israel weakens and we gain the sufficient strength to dictate to them our conditions.
he became so agitated that he convened a special cabinet meeting in his residence where he had one leg propped up on the chair because he suffered a terrible hip fracture and was in extreme pain. he convened with his cabinet and got his approval to push what became known as the goal line law which extended the law of israel to the goal line heights. it was taken as an act of annexation or something extremely close to annexation at the time. [ laughter ] thank you for that. only a lawyer could appreciate. the reagan administration was deeply disappointed and agitated and instructed the ambassador to
go in and tell the prime minister that the terms and implementation of the strategic memorandum of strategic cooperation would be suspended pending review as to its interpretation. he knew what sam was coming in with and initially greeted him very courteously and politely. i would read from you and extract the remark at this stage. that the two men had come to like each other very much over time, that there was a deep appreciation for sam as an
urbane, sophisticated experienced diplomat who was so well connected and so well trusted that frustrated politicians of whatever political hue would occasionally unburden their souls to him and to sally his charmer wife. so in came sam. and before he could even start a presentation the prime minister launched into a tirade which lasted over an hour. and he said i want you, first of all, i want to give you a personal urgent message for the president of the united states. and with that for an hour he blasted the reagan administration for the way it was handling israel and said what are we, a vessel? what are we?
a banana republic? are we a 14-year-old boy to have his knuckles wrapped and censored and so forth? we are not and he really lets we are not and he really let sam have it. he said you're talking about rescinding an agreement, you're saying rescind is a term that came out of the spanish inquisition, and that's the way the conversation which was largelily a one-way krves. a jew kneels only to god, is the way he put it. sc sam was calling for a review and sam waited until the very end and finally said, there's much that i would like to say, but oili
would leave you with this key message that would not surprise each other. with that, he got into his limo, started down with his note taker to tel aviv, and turned on the radio, only to hear the cabinet secretary at the time, anyway, whoever it was, was reading out that hour long tirade to the israeli and whomever else public. and sam was mightily upset. he waited a little bit, and a few days later after he had seen the u.s. senator, he said to him, to the prime minister, the fact that you authorized the release of that message almost immediately after i had left was to put it mildly, a violation of every diplomatic norm and practice, and the way you did it, made me feel like i was being treated like an idiot.
feigen said it was nothing personal meant by this whatsoever, it was due to the fact that there was such sharp differences between our two governments that he felt compelled to fully brief or people, and our -- of our stand and to make it plain that we also have red lines. and then he paused and said i apologize if i have embarrassed you personally, forgive me please, can you? anyone in this room or outside of it imagine such an exchange between the israeli prime minister, or any prime minister and an american ambassador to this country, is a stark, stark testament to all the work that sam had done, the confidence and respect and admiration that he had cultivated in his eight
long, wonderful years as ambassador. sam, we miss you, sincerely, bless you. >> we just heard two very interesting presentations, he gave you a historic overview of the ways that sam was an ambassador, not only the highs and lows, but the strategic developments that took place then. and what was the real relationship that sam had during this period, with what we're tapping personalities like began. i'm going to introduce it. i was of course in the state department at the time this took place, this particular exchange took place.
and in fact i had played a central role in helping to draft what became strategic memorandum and i was really committed to seeing it because it was one of those transforming events. what he didn't admit was in one of those tirades, he said the jewish people had lived 200 years without a memorandum of understanding and we can continuing to live without it, which to me was a crushing blow at the time. but for sam, what it represented was just one more challenge to overcome. this was an incredibly tumultuous time. in termsle of reagan -- people forget were the only times that
in fact you actually had arms delivery suspended israel, three times, within the first year. and sam was someone who commanded respect on the one hand and that's what, bill, you were reflecting, and he had a strategic perspective, that he had to manage, through those periods of ups and downs in a way that i suspect nobody especially could have done. he was on the board of advisors achkd he was in a sense the most influential -- and what we want to do at this point o' -- about
some of the key issues that we have been talking about, and we'll depart the stage, and a after this we'll take a short break before the next panel. so view the video. >> i think if you have to distill out one piece of advice for would-be peacemakers, from my experience, it's don't give up. keep working at it. you're not going to succeed totally, but if you keep persistently pressing forward and looking for the opportunities, you can achieve a lot more than you think you can.
a challenge is for israelis and americans to tend this very unique, enduring alliance to cultivate and fertilize and don't allow it to atrophy. >> i don't think washington would be a place that could handle u.s. relations with the middle east in the next century very successfully. i think this institution is now a central part of the broad
policy process. the city would be a lot poorer for it and so would the u.s. government. >> i couldn't be happier to be back in government. because of all the things i have ever done in my life, the most satisfying was helping to bring back the egypt-israel peace treaty, and i think i'm going to have another chance. >> we'll take a break now.
>> tonight on cspan 3, a conversation with indiana university president michael mcrobbie, part of the focus on the big ten conference. then a series of events looking at the u.s. prison system, looking at the use of u.s. solitary confinement. that's followed by a look at criminal sentencing in the u.s. and a look at providing health care to the prison population. cspan's washington journal recently conducted a series of interviews with administrators in the big ten conference,