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December 16, 1983 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-12-16

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

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

8 Friday, December 16, 1983

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Perceptive Media in M.E. Sought

By DAVID FRIEDMAN

(Copyright 1983, JTA, Inc.)

WASHINGTON — Is-
raeli President Chaim Her-
zog, in his address to the
National Press Club Nov.
23, made a specific appeal to
American journalists to
achieve some "perspective"
in their coverage of the
Middle East. He was speci-
fically aiming at the obses-
sion with the Arab-Israel
conflict and the little atten-
tion given the other major
problems in that region.
Except for the Soviet
Union and related East-
West issues, no other
foreign policy issue receives
as much coverage as does
the Mideast. Most of the dip-
lomatic reporters in Wash-

ington consider themselves
experts on the region. Yet a
lot of nonsense, much of it
anti-Israel, appears.
This is not specifically
due to bias, although there
is some of that as witnessed
in the reporting of the Is-
raeli invasion of Lebanon. It
is due more to a lack of his-
torical knowledge and ina-
bility to put events in a
regional or even global
perspective. This is what
Herzog was aiming at in his
speech.
"I have always main-
tained, and nothing has
happened to modify my
views, that one of the
problems we have when
explaining to the world
the Israeli-Arab conflict

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,

is the lack of perspective
on the part of those who
deal with the subject,"
Herzog said.
"Their whole picture is
out of focus. The correct
proportions are absent. As a
result, both governments
and the media, who have
been covering the area,
awoke one bright morning
on more occasions than one
to the surprise of develop-
ments which they had never
anticipated. The Khomeini
revolution in Iran, the
Soviet invasion of Af-
ghanistan, the Iran-Iraq
war come to mind.

"One of the major prob-
lems attending the ap-
proach to our region has
been the tendecy to view our
problem divorced from the
general picture in our area.
I think it is right to say that
public opinion in the world
has to a great degree been
misled by an overemphasis
on the Arab-Israel conflict
in the context of all that is
happening in the Middle
East. I am not in any way
suggesting that the Arab-
Israel conflict is not an im-
portant one. Of course it is,
and merits a determined ef-
fort toward resolution. But
it appears to draw an obses-
sive interest, to the exclu-
sion of far more important
issues in the Middle East.
"The ominous develop-
ments which have been, and
are occurring in the Middle
East, and which threaten
the peace of the world and
the security of our Western
society, have nothing to do
with the Arab-Israel con-
flict. What is at stake in our
area is surely emphasized
by the sinister develop-
ments over recent years in
Afghanistan, parallel to the
ominous developments in
Iran which blossomed into a
major revolution undermin-
ing vital positions of the
West in the Middle East.
"The dangers inherent
in this situation for the
West are far-reaching in-
deed, and that is, if any-
thing, an • understate-
ment. Observe the situa-
tion all around us — Af-
ghanistan, Iran, the on-
going civil war in Leba-
non for the last eight
years, Oman, the Horn of
Africa, Yemen, Chad, the
Western Sahara, all un-
connected with our dis-
pute with the Arab coun-
tries — and then perhaps
you might give the cor-
rect perspective to the
political picture in our
area.
"The Israel-Arab conflict
is not, in my view, the cen-
tral problem in the Middle
East, as far as world peace is
concerned. Those who point
to it as such are wilfully, or
because of lack of under-
standing of the issues and
their implications, mislead-
ing the public and indeed
world opinion and ignoring
a situation fraught with
danger for the world."
Herzog's remarks should
be given serious considera-
tion in the editorial offices
and television newsrooms of
this country.

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