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February 12, 1988 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-02-12

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

EDITORIAL

Daily Perceptions

Detroit Jews expressed some interesting views last week about
the "morning friendly," the Detroit Free Press.
Communal leaders and the man on the street told Jewish News'
staff writers David Holzel and Kimberly Lifton they are upset with
the Free Press coverage of the current disturbances in the ad-
ministered territories. Members of the Jewish community see a one-
sided slant to the continuing coverage of a continuing problem:
photographs of weeping women and children being dragged away
by Israeli soldiers continually find their way to the Free Press front
page, but rarely are the reasons for the confronta4ms explained.
Although the consensus of Jews is that the coverage is slanted,
few Free Press readers want to see the newsaper fail or see its editorial
voice changed by a joint operating agreement with the Detroit News.
The pollsters tell us that Jews as a group are more liberal than
comparable groups in the population. Most would also agree that
the Free Press is more liberal than the News in news coverage and
opinions.
We agree with our readers: we do not want to see the Free Press
fail. But it should not repeat the mistakes of its 1982 Lebanon war
coverage, and it should present a more balanced picture abput the
reasons behind the Gaza and West Bank violence. Israel will never
be lilly white. But she should not be painted solid black.

so would not necessarily be an admission of guilt — something
Waldheim apparently abhors having to do. Instead, it would indicate
that he truly cares about Austria and that he places national in-
terests above personal aggrandizement. Such a gesture might sal-
vage whatever honor Waldheim retains.
And in Brooklyn last week, a 77-year-old Jew, Jacob Tannen-
baum, pleaded guilty to charges he had abused Jewish prisoners in
1944 and 1945 in Goerlitz, a Nazi-forced labor camp near Dresden.
In exchange for Tannenbaum surrendering his U.S. citizenship, the
government agreed not to deport him.
Last May, when the government first filed its charges against
Tannenbaum, The Jewish News and other news organizations unear-
thed incriminating testimony against him by survivors of Goerlitz.
Among these were that he had fatally beaten at least four Jewish
prisoners, brutalized others and raped at least one woman. Survivors
claimed he had usually acted in the absence of members of the Ger-
man SS.
In light of these accounts, the resolution of the Tannenbaum case
seems tame and lenient.
Trying Tannenbaum would certainly have made many people ex-
tremely uncomfortable. Witnesses would have spoken of a Jew abus-
ing and killing other Jews in a Nazi camp. But a trial was warranted.
By avoiding it, the government skirted its legal and moral duties.

Awaiting Justice

Forty-three years is a long time to wait for justice to prevail. But
events of the past 12 days indicate that justice still awaits in at least
two cases emanating from the Nazi era.
On Monday, a commission of historians empowered by the
Austrian government to study Kurt Waldheim's wartime record
reported that the Austrian president must have known about
atrocities committed by the Germans. The commission further con-
cluded that Waldheim had not committed any atrocities himself, that
he had not done anything to prevent those he did know about and
that he has tried to conceal his military past. The conclusions were
the same as those made earlier by the World Jewish Congress and
the U.S. Justice Department but were considered particularly damag-
ing because Waldheim himself had requested the commission.
Were Waldheim a gentleman — both in the moral sense and the
literal sense — he would have left the Austrian presidency months
ago. His refusal to do so has disgraced and humiliated his nation.
But it is not too late for Waldheim to voluntarily resign. Doing

ANALYSIS

Israel's Information Effort: Too Little And Too Late

HELEN DAVIS

Israel Correspondent

erusalem — "I just
couldn't believe how
bad it was. Night after
night the television screen
was full of Israeli soldiers at-
tacking Palestinian kids. The
newspapers were having a
field day. I was glad to get
away from it all and come
home."
"Home" for this former
Londoner is a tiny apartment
in a raw, new suburb on the
outskirts of Jerusalem, not
far from the Palestinian hot

j

6

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 1988

spots of Nablus and Ramal-
lah.
On the night of her return
to Jerusalem, petrol bombs
were hurled at passing cars at
the junction to her neighbor-
hood. But she had no doubt of
where she would rather be,
she says. Better a stone
through the window than
a steady diet of Israel-
through-the-eyes-of-the-BBC.
Israelis have become hard-
ened to receiving a bad press.
They draw comfort from the
knowledge that the world's
attention span is extremely
limited; that every crisis has
its day in the headlines before

the media caravan moves on
to the next shock-horror story
somewhere else in the world.
now, two months into
an
an uprising that shows no
signs of going away, Israeli of-
ficials are coming to the reluc-
tant conclusion that their
country's image has suffered
collosal, long-term damage
that could have serious reper-
cussions in the future.
The average Israeli-in-the-
street may not yet fully corn-
prehend the implications of
all the negative imagery that
has filled the world's televi-
sion screens for the past eight
weeks, but Official Israel has

received the message loud
and clear — not least from
Jewish leaders abroad — and
has belatedly attempted to
seize back some of the lost
ground.
But the effort is too little
and too late: "Our informa-
tion center at Beit Agron in
Jerusalem is probably super-
fluous," concedes a Foreign
Ministry official. "The foreign
media already has a press
center — the American Col-
ony Hotel."
This charming hostelry in
East Jerusalem, renowned for
its old-world charm and first-
class, non-kosher cuisine, has

long been the favorite hang-
out of the foreign press.
And during the unrest, it
has also been the focus of a
well-organized, highly effec-
tive Palestinian media cam-
paign.
Like the Palestinian youths
on the streets of the West
Bank and Gaza who have won
a victory simply by sustain-
ing their demonstrations, the
Palestinian activists who
work the journalists at the
American Colony have al-
ready effectively won the
media war.
"The Palestinians have

Continued on Page 20

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