Dore Gold’s motivation for making aliyah in 1975 was clear and simple: Zionism. He has memories of his late mother Sedell, active in causes on behalf of Israel; what he learned at a tender age clearly stayed with him. Connecticut born, he grew up in a Conservative home and attended Orthodox schools in Hartford and East Hartford.
He majored in political science and Middle East studies at Columbia University; his doctorate, done in 1984, was on Saudi Arabia. More than 16 years later, Gold took time from other work to add seven chapters to that doctorate. It has just been released as a book â€” “Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism” â€” by mid-February it will be in bookstores across the country. The book contains a major appendix of supporting Saudi documents â€” most of which were found in Palestinian Authority offices in Tulkarem (West Bank) and Gaza.
Since arriving in Israel, Gold has served the state in a variety of capacities. Among his several roles has been senior research associate at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, at Tel Aviv University; foreign policy advisor to former Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu; and Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations. He served as an advisor to the Israeli delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, and was a member of the Israeli delegation at the Wye River negotiations between Israel and the PLO in 1998.
Since March 2000, Dore Gold has been wearing the hat of the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. This non-profit institute was founded in 1976 by the late Prof. Daniel Elazar, and structured according to his varied interests. Gold has reinforced the diplomatic focus of the center and now the entire Israeli diplomatic corps is brought in for briefings. There is also considerable outreach to American Jewry, with a high quality e-mail list, and the Daily Alert, written for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which goes to tens of thousands readers.
On a cloudy afternoon in mid-January, Gold sat down with this interviewer in his central Jerusalem office, and explored a variety of issues:
Asked if the position of Israel in the UN has improved in recent years, he replied that there was an “artificial sense” that it had, but in fact this has not been so. Things were thought to be better after the signing of the Oslo Agreement in September 1993, yet by mid-December of the same year, 20 anti-Israel resolutions had been passed. And the Human Rights Commission in Geneva has outright hostility to Israel.
One bright spot has been the work of American Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who worked to get Israel accepted into the regional group of Western European nations and others, which paves the way for greater Israeli involvement in UN processes.
What the UN provides for Israel that is positive is an opportunity for mixing within an international community. While the multi-lateral context is negative, Israel can make bi-contacts â€” with individual nations â€” that are constructive.
Gold believes the situation can change for the better if Israel decides to work on breaking the bloc voting of non-aligned nations. These nations, primarily from Africa, are disappointed with the Saudis and would like better relations with Israel, but they require courting: Israelis must pay them visits, their leaders must be invited to Israel.
He also sees the work done by Richard Butler of UNSCOM, the UN Special Commission on Iraq, as something positive that has come out of the UN: Butler played an important role in seeking Iraqi weapons.
Regrettably, however, the sentiment in much of the UN, including in the Secretariat, remains anti-Israel.
As Ambassador to the UN, Gold had contact with the Undersecretary General for Peace Keeping Affairs, and he remembers one incident in particular. A protest had been lodged against Israel for firing artillery 50 meters from the UNIFIL base (in Lebanon). When Gold researched the situation, he learned that Hezbollah had been shooting at Israeli forces from a mere 15 meters from the UNIFIL base, even though they were not supposed to do so. Yet the protest was lodged against Israel and not Hezbollah.
The problem, he explained, is that UN peacekeeping forces are often under-equipped and under-manned. Facing great threats, they come to under-the-table agreements with those who are threatening them, for self-protection. This was true with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and with the Serbs in Bosnia.
The situation with UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency], he says, is much worse, because UNRWA [which runs the refugee camps for the Palestinian Arabs] itself is Palestinian, not comprised of outside forces. Gold was serving in the army [reserve] and provided consultation on Jenin, this past April when the IDF uncovered vast terrorist activity in the refugee camp there.
“We went into the house of an UNRWA worker,” he recalled, “and there were shahid (martyr) posters upâ€¦It was clear that UNRWA workers were doubling as Hamas operatives.” Unless UNRWA disassociates itself from terror, he believes its efforts will be self-defeating.
Asked about Prime Minister Sharon’s advocacy of a Palestinian state, he says it is a mistake to interpret Sharon’s readiness for a state as meaning that Sharon agrees to Palestinian demands regarding their borders and powers. What Sharon has in mind is a state with limited powers; he is taking into consideration the components necessary for Israel’s defense. This means that Israel would remain in security zones along the Green Line and in the Jordan valley, that a Palestinian state would not be able to sign treaties with Iraq or Iran, and that Israel would retain the right to control air space over the state.
Questioned further, he agrees that what he has just described conforms precisely to what Foreign Minister Netanyahu has outlined for a Palestinian administrative authority that falls short of actually being a state. There is, he concurs, “a serious problem in calling it a state.” For, if a Palestinian state were to be established it would be impossible, as critics of Sharon’s position claim, to control it or restrict its powers. Asked about whether Sharon did this under pressure from President Bush, Gold simply says that calling it a state created for Sharon “a certain freedom to maneuver.”
He suggests that “one should focus on the territorial assets and residual powers Israel must retain,” and then “consult a political lexicon” and give the resulting entity a name.
Arlene Kushner is a journalist in Israel. This piece ran on February 7, 2003 in the Conneticut Jewish Ledger