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April 29, 1988 - Image 52

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-04-29

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

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Continued from preceding page

the Arabs are talking about,
they want, not just what they
call the West Bank, but all of
Israel. A few weeks ago an
Arab moderate in the PLO
published a poem which said
to the Jews, 'Get out of the
whole country, take your
graves, we don't want any
memory that there ever was
a Jew in this country: "
There's a saying that if you
ask two Jews a question you
get three opinions. But there
is one thing most Israelis
seem to agree on: They don't
like the way the news media
cover the rioting. But there
are new efforts underway to
do something about it. For ex-
ample, a front page ad in the
Jerusalem Post calls for spon-
sors for professionally design-
ed projects to improve Israel's
media image. And then,
there's David Biden.
Biden, a Kalamazoo native,
owns a private press agency,
Israel Resource, whose sole
purpose it is to enhance
Israel's image. 113 do that, he
spends countless hours with
foreign correspondents, try-
ing to soften them up and
make them receptive to the
Israeli point of view. He does
this by inviting them into his
home, especially during
holidays, for dinners with his
family. He also, on every Sun-
day, presents for Jerusalem
based reporters, a rundown of
all the TV reports about
Israel from around the world.
They watch, compare and
then discuss the differences in
coverage from footage Biden
pulls off the satellite each
day.
"We'll, for example, show
them two versions of the same
story," he says. "One will
show Israeli soldiers beating
Palestinians. The other will
start the tape just a little bit
earlier, showing the Palesti-
nians first attacking the
soldiers, provoking them. You
can tell from some of the
headlines and some of the
editing of video that you have
editors who enjoy Israel
bashing?'
The IDF press office is
beginning to realize that it
must do its part too and
change its approach in deal-
ing with the media. For exam-
ple, when the CBS television
program "48 Hours" went to
Israel, the army invited the
cameras along as soldiers
went through the old city,
prying padlocks off stores
that had closed in support of
West Bank rioters. IDF
spokesman Major Ofra now
says that was a mistake. "We
still have much to learn about

Gary Baumgarten reports for
WWJ radio. He visited Israel
earlier this month.

dealing with the press," she
acknowledges.
George Rachman, an Israeli
Arab, sits in his restaurant in
the Arab village of Abu
Ghosh, just a few kilometers
outside of Jerusalem. He is
lamenting about the current
Arab-Israeli strife. Although
most is centered in the West
Bank and Gaza, it occasional-
ly spills over into other areas.
Just the night before my visit,
there was some rock throwing
on the highway alongside
Abu Ghosh. Rachman is con-
vinced it was the work of out-
siders, but he concedes that
the potential for copycat type
violence exists in his town.
"That would be very bad,"
he observes, "because it
would bring the soldiers."
But Rachman opposes such
demonstrations for other
reasons as well. Unlike the
Palestinian Arabs, who feel
disenfranchised, Rachman
fits quite comfortably in
Israeli society. His father and
grandfather lived under
Turkish rule. The British
were in charge when he was
born, and he even served in
his Majesty's army. And now,
with the Israelis in charge, he
has adapted once again.
"We have always gotten
along well with our Jewish
neighbors," he says. "But
some of the young people
'don't know that history. All
they know is rock throwing.
But they don't even know why
they throw the rocks."
Abu .Ghosh looks nothing
like the Palestinian refugee
camps and Arab towns on the
West Bank that are shown on
the news. The village dates
back some 500 years. Many of
the homes are modest, but
others are quite large and
well maintained. Were it not
for the mosque that
dominates the center of the
town, it could just as easily be
a Jewish village.

But seeds of discontent are
slowly spreading in Abu
Ghosh as well. The young
people know when they grow
up they can vote but they
likely will never be prime
minister. And in that respect,
despite all their gains in the
last 40 years, they are second-
class citizens.

The village was established
by one family, and nearly
everyone who lives there is
related. Those of the older
generation agree with
Rachman. But Rachman fears
for members of the younger
generation growing up with
hatred in their hearts. And he
fears that when they become
his age, they will not be as
benign as is he toward their
Jewish neighbors. ❑

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