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July 10, 1987 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-07-10

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

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NBC Special Offered
Cliches And Distortions

BERL FALBAUM

Special to The Jewish News

N

BC's recent look into
the soul of Israel and
the Isreali-Arab, con-
flict which aired July 1,
must have given viewers the
impression that they were
watching a rerun.
As has been the case in so
many of these documen-
taries, NBC reverted to
political cliches, the same
distortions made in previous
presentations and the same
one-sided view of a very
complex political, social and
cultural dilemma.
Not surprising, the Arab
community was postured as
the victim with Israel the
oppressor. Even the title of
the show, Six Days Plus 20
Years: A Dream Is Dying, is
hardly the epitome of objec-
tivity. NBC might have
'displayed a little more
finesse by at least posing a
question: "Is the Dream Dy-
ing?"
It was very clear
throughout the show that
NBC, ignoring some impor-
tant historical arguments,
had concluded that Israel
has taken the "homeland"
away from the Palestinians.
This point of contention is
subject at least to some
debate, but not for NBC.
There was no discussion
that there probably is
greater disagreement as to
what to do about the West
Bank among Arab nations
than there is between Israel
and West Bank Arabs. This
point is discussed at some
length in an article, "Arab
vs. Arab Over Palestine" in
the July issue of
Commentary.
Of course, much time was
spent on civil abuses by
Israelis and lots of film
footage was shown of Israeli
soldiers kicking Arabs and
Arab children throwing
rocks at Israeli soldiers.
None of this is to suggest
that the present Israeli
policy on the West Bank
should be unchallenged.
Nor is it to suggest that
abuses by Israelis should be
immune from media
coverage; they should not.
But in discussing how the
Arabs suffer, NBC might
have pointed out the rights
Arabs do enjoy under the oc-
cupation and — again while
the abuses require airing —
Tom Brokaw and his col-
leagues might have broad-
cast some elements of the

peaceful coexistence of Arab
and Jew.
In fact, it is no less than a
political wonder that the Ci-
ty of Jerusalem, under the
skilled administrative hand
of Mayor Teddy Kolleck, for
all its problems, has all-in-
all fared pretty well these 20
years. How this has been ac-
complished might really
have been "news" for NBC's
viewers and it need not have
diminished the inherent
problems of the occupation.
There was no mention of
how Israel has maintained
Jerusalem as an open city
for all major religions nor
that in pre-1967, Jews were
not permitted to visit or
pray at the Western Wall.
The entire program focus-
ed on the West Bank —
centering on such militant
enclaves as Hebron — and
how it was eroding the fiber
of Israel.
While the West Bank
issue is an important and
vital one in Israel, there are
other matters — very crucial
security and political ones —
which also affect the sur-
vival of the Jewish State
and they are not necessari-
ly inseparable from the
West Bank problem.
Those interviewed ap-
parently were picked very
carefully for their views. On
the Arab side, all those in-
terviewed severely criticized
Israel. Indeed, when NBC
showed Arabs working con-
genially in a Jewish bakery,
the narrator added
somewhat skeptically that
they "seemed" happy and
sometimes even sang.
On the Israeli side,
reporters interviewed
primarily a former IDF
soldier — he appeared to be
an American — who had
become disenchanted with
Israeli, policy on the West
Bank, a very militant resi-
dent living in Kiryat Arba
and one public official — not
surprising — Rabbi Meir
Kahane.
No moderate or centrist
Israelis were interviewed
and the closest the program
came to attempting to
achieve balance was to pit
an Israeli intellectual with
his Arab counterpart to
discuss the West Bank issue
at the end of the program.
The problem was that after
50 minutes of a one-sided
presentation, the Israeli,
Rabbi David Hartman, ap-
parently also a liberal, was
on the defensive, finally con-
cluding that he will not feel

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