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December 24, 1982 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-12-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

18 Friday, December 24, 1982


AJCongress Article Hits Washington Post Lebanon War Coverage

(Editor's note: The fol-
lowing article was ex-
cerpted from one written
by Lenore Siegelman and
which appeared in the
issue of the American
Jewish Congress
monthly. The article is
sharply critical of the
Washington Post's
coverage of the war in
Throughout the war, the
Post described Arafat as a
moderate man — as a
martyr-soldier. Thus, the
Post's Beirut correspon-
dent, Jonathan Randal, de-
scribed Arafat as a man who
feels obliged to "pay lip
service" to the armed strug-
gle (June 12); as a man with
a 'moderate emphasis on
diplomatic and political
means' " (June 9).
The headline of a June 24
front-page story reads:
"Arafat's Dilemma" with a
sub-headline, "A Martyr's
Death or Banishment."
David Ottaway describes
Arafat: "Still smiling, un-
shaven and unbowed, he
stands alone with his mot-
ley array of guerrillas."
Arafat, Ottaway explains,
must choose between "his
own death or the eclipse of a
cause he has spent a
lifetime promoting with
ever greater success in
every capital of the world."

Further, "He must decide
within the next 24 to 48
hours whether he is worth
more to the Palestinian
cause alive or "dead — a
martyr on the Beirut
battlefield to serve as an in-
spiration to future genera-
tions of Palestinians or the
standard bearer of the
Palestinian flag lowered to
half-staff in the capitals of
the world that still would
have him."
The Post's correspon-
dents, time after time,
presented the PLO as an
organized military
organization which was
whose "officers" were
"honorable" and wanted
. . . to die with honor."
The commentary on the
death of Azmeh Seghaiyer,
a PLO commander who par-
ticipated in the attack on a
bus on the coastal road of
Israel, by the Post's Beirut
correspondent Edward
Cody, explained that
Seghaiyer "had partici-
pated in training and opera-
tions for a number of opera-
tions against Israel, includ-
ing the coastal road assault
of 1978 in which more than
30 Israelis were killed"
(July 7).
The front-page story did
not mention that "the coas-
tal road assault" attacked
Israeli civilians only, kil-

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ling 37 and wounding 76.
Cody says of Seghaiyer: "I
always thought of him as an
honorable military officer
in the closest thing the
Palestinians had to an
army," and observed that
"you can admire a man even
when he is part of deeds you
cannot admire."
In contrast, Israel's tac-
tics on Lebanon is described
as indiscriminate, or at
best, unjustified. Thus on
June 12, the Post reports
that "Israeli war-ships off
the coast of Beirut lobbed
shells indiscriminately into
the center of the city until
early evening . . . Late in
the afternoon, shells seem-
ingly fired aimlessly from
warships into the city cen-
ter hit an apartment build-
ing . . ." (Ottaway, June
On June 21, Branigan
filed a story from Aley,
Lebanon, in which he de-
scribes an Israeli bomb-
ing of a hospital:

"That the target of the air
strike was a hospital,
whether by design or acci-
dent, is not unique either."
A historical think-piece
by Jim Hoagland, assistant
managing editor for foreign
affairs, entitled "The Mid-
East's Second Becoming,"
sported a sub-title, "How
Khomeini and Begin are
Transforming the Region."
Published in the Post's
Sunday, July 18, "Outlook"
section, the piece drew
parallels between Begin
and Khomeini on the basis
of their alleged fundamen-
talism and militarism. Thus
Begin is characterized as
someone who has "un-
leashed" the challenge of
"Jewish fundamentalism"
and as a champion of the
"militant strain of
Jonathan Randal (June
24) suggested that the

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U.S. is a "hostage to the
Israelis" in the Lebanon
affair; and Don Ober-
dorfer, writing about the
resignation of former
Secretary of State Ale-
xander Haig (June 27),
described Haig as "a vic-
tim of the drive master-
minded by Israeli De-
fense Minister Ariel Sha-
The Post presented the
U.S. as fearful and nervous
about Israeli moves; Post
reporter John Goshko, on
July 3, stated that the U.S.
is seeking "to convince Is-
rael to wait" for further
negotiations. His story,
headlined "U.S. Fears
Meeting of Israeli Cabinet
as Break Point," described
U.S. officials as "nervously
eyeing" the coming Israeli
Cabinet meeting.
In the same story, Goshko
described Israel as bowing
to "American entreaties."

These interpretive pieces
were not written as edito-
rials or labeled as opinion,
but rather they were pre-
sented as news reports and
news analysis by members
of the news staff.
Equally significant were
the stories that the Post
chose not to cover at all or
that were buried. For
example, the Post did not
report about captured PLO
documents that showed the
names of PLO leaders who
had received training at
Soviet training camps and
of those countries whose na-
tionals had been trained by
the PLO in Lebanon; first-
person reports on PLO
cruelty of civilians in south-
ern Lebanon; PLO use of
young boys as combatants;
the rescue of a U.S. sena-
tor's aunt by Israeli troops
in Lebanon; and reconstruc-
tion and relief aid to Leba-
non by Israelis and Ameri-

can Jews.
These stories were re-
ported in other American
newspapers that had ap-
parently used informa-
tion available from
sources in Lebanon and
Israel, including the Is-
raeli radio, which the
Post had cited in other
Stories that were buried
include: PLO military use of
refugee camps, residential
areas and civilian facilities;
the battle at Ein Khilwe, a
Palestinian refugee camp
near Sidon; and Israeli ef-
forts to save civilians dur-
ing the fighting in the
south. It would be remiss at
this point not to describe the
Post's policy of support for a
Palestinian state. The Post
asserts that the Palestinian
problem is the central issue
in the Middle East, and the
paper frequently condemns
Israel and Menahem Begin.

Arens Angered by the 'Editing'
of Letter at Affair for Habib

Washington Post reported
last week that Israel Am-
bassador to the U.S. Moshe
Arens has angrily protested
the deletion of seven lines
from a message from Prime
Minister Menahem Begin
that was read at a recent
tribute to U.S. special Mid-
dle East envoy Philip
The deleted lines referred
to the efforts of the Israel
Defense Forces in removing
the Palestine Liberation
Organization terrorists
from Lebanon.
In addition, Arens was in-
furiated by the deletion of
his name from the list of
Middle East ambassadors
who appeared at the func-
John Wallach, foreign
editor for Hearst Corp.
which sponsored the af-
fair for Habib, told the
Washington Post that he
edited Bagin's letter after
he conferred with several
"Senior Administra-
tion officials." Wallach
said Israel was omitted
from the list of ambas-
sadors because Israel's
response was not re-
ceived before the print-
ing deadline for the pro-
The deleted lines stated:
"In the wake of Operation
Peace for Galilee, Phil
Habib made great efforts to
bring about the evacuation
of the bulk of the terrorists
from Beirut and Lebanon.
He worked hard to achieve
this goal and, with the vic-
tory of the Israel Defense
Forces, his diplomatic
endeavors contributed to
the dismantling of that cen-
ter of international ter-
rorism which had been a
danger to all free nations."
Arens' letter, according to
the Post, chided Wallach:
"In none of the many
words spoken that evening
was there a single reference
to the only reason that we
can discuss at all the pros-

on the country. This action
cost the lives of over 350
young Israelis.


pects for a free and peaceful
Lebanon: The Peace for
Galilee operations this
summer which broke the
PLO-Syrian stranglehold

"I am afraid that the at-
tempt to cater to the
ostrich-like attitude of
some of the ambassadors
from Arab countries who
refused to meet or
negotiate with Israel or
Israelis contributes noth-
ing to peace in the Middle
East," Arens continued.
"The attempt to ignore
Israel and the message
from its prime minister
seems to me an act of un-
precedented discour-
"If that were the case,"
said Wallach, "I wouldn't
have invited the Israelis."

Calif. Senator Rules Out
PLO Role in M.E. Talks

— Republican Senator-elect
Pete Wilson, in what is be-
lieved to have been his first
major policy address on the
Middle East conflict since
defeating Gov. Jerry Brown
in the general elections
runoff last month, has indi-
cated here that he will be a
strong supporter of Israel
when he takes office in
Washington as a member of
the 98th Congiess.
Describing Israel as a
"great ally" of the United
States, Wilson said it was
time for negotiations
toward settlement of the
Mideast conflict. But he re-
jected the idea that peace
negotiations should involve
the Palestine Liberation
"Those who now say we
must enter a time of negoti-
ations are right, but let us
be clear that we will not
negotiate with gangsters,
that either the United
States nor Israel should
ever be expected to entreat
with the PLO," Wilson told
some 500 persons attending
the annual Hanuka dinner
of the San Francisco region

of the Jewish National
Wilson accused Israel's
friends in the United
States of being too quick
to blame Israel for in-
volvement in the mas-
sacre of Palestinian civi-
lians in the Shatila and
Sabra refugee camps last
Calling the massacre
"tragic," the Senator-elect
declared: "Quite properly,
Jews and non-Jews in Israel
and in the U.S. called for an
investigation. It was not
and is not proper to prejudge
the evidence . . . It would
not make sense for this
country to react or over-
react by saying we will cut
military and financial aid to
As a member of the
Armed Services Committee,
a position he was named to
by the Senate Republican
leadership, Wilson also
indicated he is interested in
hearing how the Israel De-
fense Force was able to de-
stroy Soviet-made
weaponry used by the Sy-
rians and "deal a smashing
defeat to the PLO."

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