- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 14, 2000

Diplomat, patriot, spy

The late Israeli Ambassador Eliahu Ben-Elissar symbolized his country as few Israeli statesmen have.

"[He] devoted his life to the state of Israel. In the most authentic sense of the word, he was a patriot," said Israeli Ambassador David Ivry in a memorial service this week.

"His story touched our hearts, because it paralleled the history of Israel," Mr. Ivry added.

"He was a symbol of the energy and idealism that brought the state forward. He represented the classic Zionist belief that a passion for our people, our country would lead to a meaningful and fulfilling life."

Mr. Ben-Elissar, who died Aug. 12, was born in Poland in 1932. Most of his family perished in the Holocaust. He arrived alone in Israel at the age of 10 and spoke no Hebrew.

He later joined the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, and was reportedly a spy. When Likud leader Menachem Begin became prime minister in 1977, he appointed Mr. Ben-Elissar chief of staff.

Mr. Ben-Elissar served as a member of parliament from 1981 to 1996 and twice chaired the foreign affairs and defense committee.

He was ambassador to the United States from 1996 to 1998 and was later appointed ambassador to France. He was dismissed from that position in a staff shake-up a week before his fatal heart attack.

At the memorial service, Mr. Ivry said, "This ceremony is the culmination of a long and challenging journey, started as a young boy in a Europe ravaged by war. His beginnings were humble indeed.

"Eliahu Ben-Elissar arrived in Israel as a refugee who did not speak the language. He had to cope with the challenges of absorption, with no family support. Yet, he rose above it all to become one of our foremost diplomats, representing Israel at its most important diplomatic missions.

"He was a man of strong principles, respected by all for his deep convictions."

Mr. Ivry said he left "a deep and lasting impression on the state of Israel [and] will be sorely missed by all those whose lives he touched."

Help for Caribbean

The ambassador of Guyana is calling for the establishment of a regional development fund to help the small economies in the Caribbean area.

Ambassador Mohammed Ali Odeen Ishmael told a meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank that the fund should be part of the negotiations for a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

He noted that Mexican President-elect Vicente Fox proposed a similar scheme as part of the North America Free Trade Agreement.

"If the leader of a large country like Mexico can see the need for a development fund in NAFTA, how much more important it is to have such a fund to support smaller economies in the FTAA?" Mr. Ishmael argued.

He proposed modeling the fund after a program of the European Union that helps poorer countries improve their economic growth.

Mr. Ishmael reminded the audience that Guyana has been proposing a development fund since 1994. The proposal is supported by the Caribbean Community, known by the acronym CARICOM.

The bank's forum was organized to review the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative and to assess the region's progress in meeting conditions to obtain assistance under the program.

Mr. Ishmael said his country is working to implement the required legislation on combatting drug trafficking and corruption and adopting laws to protect copyrights and patents.

Guyana has signed the Convention on Corruption of the Organization of American States, enacted legislation to prevent money laundering and signed anti-narcotics measures with the United States.

On the requirement to promote labor standards, Mr. Ishmael said Guyana has a long history of trade unionism and some of the strongest workers-rights laws in the hemisphere.

Ethiopia meets press

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi will hold a news conference at 9 a.m. tomorrow at the National Press Club.

A story about Mr. Meles' interview with reporters and editors at The Washington Times appears on page 16.

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