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Shamir Speaks To Romanian Jews After Meeting With Ceausescu

August 19, 1987

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, his voice trembling with emotion, today told about 1,000 Romanian Jews in Bucharest’s main temple of his desire to see them ″next year in Jerusalem.″

Speaking in Yiddish and then in French, Shamir told the Jews of his meetings Tuesday with President Nicolae Ceausescu, saying the two had ″very friendly talks.″

″I was very satisfied with my talks because I see in them the friendly relations between the socialist Republic of Romania and Israel,″ Shamir said.

The Israeli premier told reporters Tuesday night that Ceausescu had spoken of greater optimism about prospects for Middle East peace because he detected a change in Arab attitudes.

Shamir said he had reiterated his opposition to an international peace conference and participation by the Palestine Liberation Organization at such a gathering.

Ceausescu met last week with PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Bethlehem mayor Elias Freij, a moderate Palestinian seen as a possible participant in a peace conference.

There has been no word on whether Freij is still in Romania or if he will meet with Shamir here.

Shamir’s emotional 15-minute address to 1,000 of the 25,000 Jews remainimg in Romania came after he entered the synanogue carrying the Torah and walking alongside Rabbi Moses Rosen, head of Romania’s Jewish Community.

Shamir began his speech with the report on his talks with Ceausescu, who received praise for being the only Eastern bloc leader to maintain relations with Israel after the six-day war in 1967.

Ceausescu also vowed to combat any form of anti-Jewish sentiment, Shamir said.

″He told me that he always has struggled and always will struggle against anti-Semitism,″ Shamir said.

On the issue of emigration, which currently runs at about 1,000 Jews a year, Shamir said Ceausescu ″understands this wish to go from Romania to Israel.″

Some 400,000 Jews have left Romania for Israel since the end of World War II.

Local observers credit Rosen, head of the Jewish Community here since 1952, with skillful negotiation with the communist authorities to allow emigration and to raise funds abroad to maintain 118 synagogues, Jewish choirs, kosher restaurants and Jewish cultural institutions for the mostly elderly Jews staying in Romania.

The children’s and adults’ choirs of the Bucharest temple joined in a selection of religious songs performed before and after Shamir’s address.

The Israeli premier was seen shaking with rare public emotion several times as he assured the Romanian Jews of solidarity and support in Israel, and urged them to come and help build the Jewish state.

″We think all the time about the Jewish people in the whole world,″ he told the assembly in French. ″This is our deepest concern.″

Jewish solidarity ″is our greatest, most conquering strength, our dearest treasure,″ he said.

The Israeli leader finished by noting that the festival of Rosh Hashana is approaching and wished all present a happy, successful and above all peaceful year.

″Let me offer in conclusion our traditional greeting, ‘Next year in Jerusalem,’ ″ Shamir said. He stepped off the podium to loud applause before leaving the synagogue, accompanied by Rosen and Israeli Ambassador Yosef Govrin.

Shamir is the fourth Israeli premier to visit Romania since the late Mrs. Golda Meir came in 1972.

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