KING HASSAN II of Morocco, who died July 24 at age 70,
was the only Arab monarch ever to host a reception for Jewish leaders. That took place
four years ago when he came to New York, following a visit with President Bill
Clinton at the White House.
The Plaza's Terrace Room was turned into a royal court with newly laid luxury rugs. Red
and green national bunting were hanging over a red throne for Hassan, king for 38 years,
the world's longest reigning leader.
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of
Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, put me in the receiving line along with
Daily News publisher Mortimer Zuckerman, former mayor Ed
Koch, Leon Levy of American Sephardi Federation, Ruth
Popkin of Jewish National Fund, realtor George Klein, Mel
Parness of Bnai Zion, and most of the rest of the Jewish establishment.
Presidents Conference chairman Lester Pollack extolled the many
virtues of the Arab monarch, especially his efforts to bring peace and economic security
to the Middle East. He presented Hassan with a crystal dove in flight and a menorah in the
shape of a Tree of Life created by artist Fred Spinowitz.
"War has never ended or solved a problem in the past," the king told his
Jewish audience. "The PLO is committed totally to peace. I can guarantee that
After the king retired to his chambers in the hotel, the Jewish leaders joined scores
of UN ambassadors and guests at a reception. Former Ambassador Angier Biddle
Duke, Kennedy administration aide Arthur Schlesinger Jr.,
producer Martin Richards and singer Stevie Wonder
wandered about the mounds of Moroccan delicacies, desserts, sweet tea and chocolates.