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A bomb aboard a TWA flight from Rome to Athens in April 1986 killed four Americans, including an
Hijacking Of Civil Aviation
ABRAHAM H. FOXMAN
espite the fact that air travel has
been a prime target, if not the
prime target, for terrorist attacks,
the International Civil Aviation Organ-
ization (ICAO), the sole body charged with
insuring secure aviation, has failed to join
in the international effort against ter-
Meeting last fall for its 26th General
Assembly in Montreal, council members
were greeted by Canadian and Israeli pro-
posals for the imposition of strict security
measures and mandatory prison sentences
for terrorists prompted, in part, by the
then-recent massacre of 21 hostages
aboard a Pam Am jet hijacked by Palesti-
nian gunmen in Karachi. Sadly, even the
Karachi incident and the relentless string
of aviation-related catastrophes that pre-
ceded it failed to provoke the council into
But this should come as no surprise.
Created by the United Nations in 1947 for
the express purpose of establishing and
enacting international guidelines for air
safety, the ICAO regrettably surrendered
its mandate to politics long ago. As has
happened with other U.N. agencies, Arab
and Third World domination succeeded in
steering the council away from its as-
Abraham H. Foxman is associate national
director of the Anti-Defamation League of
B'nai B'rith; Janice Ditchek is associate
director of ADL's Middle Eastern affairs
signed role as guardian of the skies. And
despite its declared agenda, the agency it-
self has fallen victim to the very forces
which threaten civil aviation.
For nearly two decades, Israeli repre-
sentatives to the council have encountered
unyielding resistance to their govern-
ment's appeal for meaningful ICAO anti-
terrorist action. Although it is not a politi-
cal body, ICAO's failure to move in this
direction has been curiously tied to the
political machinations of some of its mem-
And so it was that beginning in the
late 1960's and throughout the skyjacking
era that was to last a decade, the council's
most common response to the growing ter-
rorist threat was that of silence. Indeed,
the most heinous crimes of the period, in-
cluding the attacks on El Al jets in 1968,
1969 and 1970, the 1972 Arab terrorist
massacre at Israel's Lod International
Airport and the Popular Front for the Lib-
eration of Palestine's senseless murder of
47 people aboard a Swiss plane in 1970, all
failed to spark the ICAO's condemnation.
The council's failure to act upon these
violations of its charter contrasts sharply
with the ease with which is has passed
resolutions over the years denouncing Is-
rael. Since 1967, Israel has been bom-
barded by repeated condemnations, some,
such as the council's denunciation of the
application of Israeli law to Jerusalem,
have had no connection to civil aviation.
Others, including the condemnation of Is-
rael's continued operation of Jerusalem's
Atarot Airport which had been previously
maintained by Jordan, have occupied
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