Syrian Ambassador to UN Misquotes JTA Story on Israel-south African Arms Policy

The Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations quoted the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Friday as “proof” that the Republic of South Africa was sending tanks to Israel. But George Tomeh, in an obvious attempt to link Israel with a nation that is considered an enemy by Black Africa, omitted mentioning that the JTA dispatch he cited was quoting an allegation published in the Soviet Government newspaper Izvestia. The JTA story, datelined London, Jan. 19, reported a charge published in the Jan. 18 edition of Izvestia that the South African Government was organizing the export of tanks to Israel. Izvestia described the tanks as “65 ton giants,” indicating that they were Chieftains, a tank that Israel is trying to buy from Britain, so far without success. Mr. Tomeh made his remarks in the course of a debate in the Security Council on the status of Namibia, the diamond rich territory of Southwest Africa that seeks independence. He quoted the JTA as saying that the export of tanks marked a new “stage of their (Israel-South African) cooperation. He failed to say that JTA attributed the quote to Izvestia. He added that on Jan. 21, JTA reported that the Israeli Government had no comment on the alleged tank deal. What JTA actually reported was that Jerusalem had no comment on Izvestia’s allegation.

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