«WHAT IS THE SECRET OF JEWISH PEOPLE?»
I was pressed for time. No more than 20 minutes left before the Kinakh-Peres meeting, the only event in the program of the Israeli Foreign Minister I had got the permission to attend. An old "Volga" stopped at a habitual gesture of a pedestrian in a hurry. Having agreed on the fare we set out for the Cabinet of Ministers' building. A big fellow driver hoary with age said cursing the traffic jams, (in Ukrainian) "Peres has arrived, Shimon. He was to lay flowers in the Babiy Yar in the morning. They say, he came to receive the compensation for the plane. But what compensation can there be?! It's a put-up job, to my mind! So many of them were killed in Babiy Yar, and no compensation is claimed!"
I looked at the driver trying to imitate professor Preobrashensky's reaction to Sharikov's words on his disagreement with Engels and Kautsky. I said something like(in Ukrainian) "Nothing was put up, air defense exercises are not to be held in the zone of the civil plane routes". I competently referred to one air defense officer, whom I know, and added I was namely heading for the meeting with Peres.
I don't know how much convincing my words were but this topic wasn't raised any more. The driver told me much interesting about the policy. He was sure one million dollars is not enough nowadays to become a people's deputy, no less than three millions is the amount. But I kept thinking about what he meant by the Babiy Yar compensation, about his inner and outward likeness to an anti-Semitic literature salesman on the Maidan and about my "advantages" to listen to different anti-Semitic revelations thanks to my Ryazan-like face...
Meanwhile, it should be noted that though neither Israeli nor Ukrainian party named the compensation payment terms, the official representative of the MFA of Ukraine Igor Dolgov raised this question on Tuesday, before the Israeli delegation arrival. He mentioned the parties are eager to solve this problem prior to the Israeli Prime- Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to Ukraine, which is scheduled, for the first half of 2002.
Anatoly Zlenko declared at the joint press conference with Shimon Peres, held after the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, that Ukraine "is ready to consider all complex of problems" connected with the catastrophe of the Russian TU-154 plane with the Israeli passengers aboard and "is expecting the information to become the basis for the future bilateral talks" on this question. He added the TU-154 plane tragedy exerted no impact on the relations between Ukraine and Israel.
We drove up to the Cabinet of Ministers building before the very beginning of the Kinakh - Peres meeting.
While I was being searched at the entrance with the help of two metal-detectors, the meeting had begun, and I failed to get into the hall. I had to wait in the lobby where taciturn Ukrainian and Israeli guys with the phone wires in their ears were walking to and fro. Purely by chance I got acquainted with talkative Ioram Dory, the Peres spokesman.
Mister Dory told me that the meeting of Peres with the President of Ukraine had been open and constructive. From the very beginning Leonid Kuchma expressed his deep regret with regard to the tragic mistake of the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces as a result of which the TU-154 plane with 66 Israeli passengers aboard had been shot down. Peres replied it was impossible to revive the dead but it was necessary to ease the sufferings of their relatives. At the end of their meeting both statesmen expressed their hope the compensation payment issue would be solved in the nearest future.
Peres repeatedly, in public as well, highly appreciated Ukraine's refusal from the nuclear arms, stressing the world should be grateful to Ukraine for this important step. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel underlined a noticeable economic growth of Ukraine over the last year and the prospects of its development. He also reminded about 400 thousand Ukrainian immigrants in Israel, who considerably contribute to the relations between the two countries. Peres noted the history of Jews is closely mixed with the Ukrainian history in which tragedies alternated with important developments of the Jewish culture and its present renaissance. The Israeli MFA talked about the parallels in the creative work of Shalom- Aleihem and Gogol. During the meeting with the students of the National University one girl asked in Hebrew about the secret of the Jewish people. Answering the question Shimon Peres said the secret lies in the fact that over thousands of years the Jews managed to preserve their moral codes whatever the price was. He also cited the words of the first Premier of Israel David Ben-Gurion. "The Jews are never satisfied, they always strive to reach and reach more. That's all secret".
Some time later the guys with phones in their ears started bustling around with an important air. Within several minutes the hall door swung open, and the respectably looking grandfather Shimon Peres showed up accompanied by the delegation. Leaving the hall he used his mobile phone to answer the questions of the "REKA" radio periodically inserting Russian phrases. The phone talk was over, Peres started politely answering the questions of the journalists armed with digital dictophones. Zeev Ben-Arye, as always, did the interpretation. Peres informed that during the talk with Kinakh they were discussing the questions of cooperation in the sphere of technologies, agriculture and culture, as well as the possible mediation of Ukraine in the Middle East peace process. Shimon Peres declared the discussion of the question on the Ukrainian compensations to the relatives of the TU-154 plane victims had been "constructive" and he was satisfied with the negotiation results. The Nobel prize-winner for the "Oslo agreements" mentioned the Ukraine's invitation to hold Israeli-Palestinian talks in Yalta. Should they be successful Anatoly Zlenko promised to organize several parties for the quests at his expense. On leaving the building of the Ukrainian Government the Peres delegation set out for the House - Museum of Mikhail Bulgakov, then for the "Sokhnut"office. The old "Volga", of course, was not seen. But the thought remained that Peres, talking about the secret of the Jewish people, was diplomatic not to mention another reason of their survival. This is namely the permanent existence of pathological anti-Semites, like this "Volga" driver, who hate us with all their might, slander our people to such extent that they think it is possible to "arrange" a plane catastrophe to get Ukrainian money... The enemy, as it is known, unites.