JERUSALEM (Dec. 25)
Foreign Minister Abba Eban told the Knesset today that the fact that Israel enjoyed widespread support among world public opinion was in part at least attributable to the successful efforts of its information officials around the world. He cited polls commissioned in the U.S. and Western Europe to prove that support for Israel was firm and even rising. He noted, too, Israel’s powerful support in the U.S. Senate and House and attributed this, too, in large part to the government’s information policy. Eban was replying to a Likud attack by Shmuel Tamir, head of the Free Center.
Tamir accused the government spokesmen of painting the Likud as a war party in the eyes of the world press–and said this was the greatest disservice imaginable for Israel’s image. He himself, he said, when interviewed by foreign newspapers always said all Israelis sought peace and the Arabs were to blame for its absence. Tamir referred to information policy faults early in the Yom Kippur War and said the world press believed Cairo more than Jerusalem. He accused Eban of not stressing in his Geneva speech Israel’s historic right to Eretz Israel. He also accused the government of seeking to restrain Israel’s friends in the U.S.–both in the Congress and among U.S. Jewry who wished to present Israel’s ease more forcefully.
Eban said it was laughable to talk like Tamir talked when in fact a large body of U.S. Congressmen and public opinion were behind Israel’s stand–thanks in part to the efforts of himself and other ministers who always met with Congressmen on trips to the U.S., and thanks to the constant work of Embassy and legation staffs and Israel lobbies there.
He cited a poll saying that only 6 percent of Americans sympathized with the Arabs; another poll. saying that 60 percent of the leading American newspapers sympathized with Israel, 4 percent with the Arabs and the rest adopting a balanced stand; and another poll saying that zero percent of the citizens of Ohio blamed Israel for the energy crisis. Israel’s information effort was behind all these achievements, Eban declared.
As for Europe: the polls showed 9 percent Frenchmen, 8 percent West Germans and 18 percent Italians sympathized with the Arabs–figures no worse than immediately following the Six-Day War (though slightly worse than in the week immediately preceding that war). There had been Israel information efforts behind the statement on the energy crisis by U.S. Nobel Prize winning scientists, Eban indicated–an example of the success of Israel’s information effort regarding the oil crisis.
The Arabs, he noted, spent millions of dollars on public relations firms and had thousands of information officials around the world–and yet Israel’s more modest effort was certainly not inferior in its results to that of Arabs. But how many would support Tamir’s extremist Likud policy; Eban asked. He expressed the hope that the Israeli electorate would see it that way too next Monday, election day.