The headline in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz about criticism of a Jewish member of the British Parliament, Labor Party leader Ed Miliband, for eating bacon in public reminded me of an incident that took place here in Washington 32 years ago. Israel had just invaded Lebanon and there was a lot of concern on Capitol Hill that Israel planned to occupy the country. Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon said the IDF would not go deeper than about 25 miles north of Israel's border in its Operation Peace For Galilee to create a buffer zone and stop the ongoing PLO attacks, particularly with its long-range artillery.
Members of Congress and the administration were skeptical about statements out of Israel that it didn't plan to go all the way to Beirut (it did) or drive out the Palestinians (it did), but only to clear out a buffer zone and remove the PLO and its heavy artillery that had been attacking northern Israel.
Begin sent his chief of military intelligence to brief congressional and administration officials in Washington with detailed information about the PLO presence in southern Lebanon, the level of the threat and the intentions of the IDF.
Before going to the Hill, Gen. Yeshua Saguy and the deputy chief of mission (DCM) at the Israeli embassy, Benjamin Netanyahu, met with Tom Dine, the executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and me, the legislative director, to brief us and to hear about the mood and questions on the Hill.
We met at the Washington Hilton for breakfast. But before the meeting could begin, each of the Israelis officials took me aside with a sensitive personal question: “Will you guys be offended if I order bacon?”