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Rabin Urges Jewish Press to Deal with Major Issues, Play Down Israeli Politics

Premier Yitzhak Rabin called on the Jewish press all over the world yesterday to deal more with basic issues confronting the Jewish people and less with Israeli politics. Addressing an international conference of Jewish Journalists which opened yesterday at Beit Agron, the Israeli Journalists House, Rabin declared that the test of the Jewish press would be its effectiveness as an instrument to strengthen Jewish identity among Jews.

Noting that the conference is being held at the beginning of the new year, Rabin said that 1977 would be a year of “many chances on one hand and many risks on the other” in Israel’s search for peace. He said there were many possibilities to advance progress in the Middle East in 1977 but they would be realized only by those who are willing to take risks. If the circumstances allow it, 1977 will be a year of negotiations, Rabin said. But he warned that any movement toward peace that might start in 1977 would not be concluded this year. To believe otherwise would be “wishful thinking,” he said.

The Premier stressed that any negotiations would require both flexibility and strength. At this point, he said, Israel is at one of its peaks as far as the military situation is concerned. Rabin addressed the conference before news was received from Paris of the release of the Palestinian terrorist, Abu Daoud.

He told the journalists that Israel was preparing to ask for Daoud’s extradition. “As long as there are terrorist organizations, Israel will fight them in any way,” he said. As long as any terrorists are walking free, Israel will act against them “in friendly countries according to the law–and in other countries by whatever means possible,” Rabin warned.

Opening remarks at the conference were delivered by Joseph Fraenkel, doyen of Yiddish journalists; Yitzhak Harkavi, of the World Jewish Congress; Daniel Bloch, chairman of the Israel Journalists Association and Philip Slomovitz, editor and publisher of the Jewish News of Detroit. Yosef Almogi, chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives, was unable to attend the opening because of illness. He sent a message of greetings which was read by Yitzhak Shargil, Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent in Tel Aviv.

JEWISH PRESS CRITICIZED

In one of the major speeches of the afternoon session, Murray Zuckoff, of New York, editor of the JTA, sharply criticized the Jewish press in America for its tendency to give in to the pressures from local “machers.” Zuckoff said the tendency was to try to divert the legitimate news-gathering by the Jewish press. “In trying to enforce and limit the kind of news that the Jewish press should deal with, one realizes that the Jewish press is working according to certain commandments given by Jewish organizations,” Zuckoff said. Such commandments might say, “Thou shalt print everything we say–if it is news or not news” or “Thou shalt hallow and glorify our name,” Zuckoff said.

He called on the Jewish press to free itself from these tendencies and establish its own rules and commandments. He stressed that the Jewish weeklies in America were not the New York Times or the Washington Post and could not compete with their news. But the Jewish press has one priority over the other press and that is that it could focus totally on Jewish affairs, Jewish life and problems everywhere, Zuckoff said.

He said that not only Jewish “machers” in the U.S. liked to see their names in the New York Times rather than speak to Jewish weeklies, but the Israeli press is also far more interested in other newspapers than in the news given by the Jewish press. Zuckoff said the Jewish press is potentially powerful and can play a significant role but that it tended to minimize its own potential. “We have to make the Jewish press a vibrant, vital, viable force,” he said.

Aryie Zimuki, an Israeli, opened the afternoon discussion with a proposed ten-point project for the next four years to promote the Jewish press around the world and increase its influence and strength. He suggested the establishment of an institute for journalistic information, to be called a “Media Resources Center,” in cooperation with the Jewish Agency’s information department, the Foreign Ministry and the World Jewish Congress. He said its aim would be to provide material on Jewish topics and Zionist subjects.

Zimuki said the Foreign Ministry is prepared to organize regional seminars for the exchange of information, observations and points of view. He also proposed another project which would grant scholarships to Jewish journalists abroad to work on Israeli newspapers and send young Israeli journalists to work for a time on Jewish newspapers overseas.

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