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Knesset Member Says U.S. Jewish Leaders’ Views of Israel Are Influenced by Media Presentation

Joseph Rom, a Likud member of Knesset, said yesterday that Israel has “a problem with the American Jewish leadership” because “they are influenced by the image of Israel as presented by the American media.” He did not elaborate on the “problem” with the Jewish leaders, but he did note that grass roots American Jews with whom he had met during his two-week nationwide tour were less inclined to question Israel’s foreign policy. As a result, he said, he felt “very comfortable with them.”

Rom offered this view at a press conference sponsored by the American Jewish Congress. He was here at the conclusion of his tour during which he met with Jewish leaders, officials in Washington and addressed Jewish groups and members of the media.

Rom, who is a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee and chairman of its subcommittee on arms purchase and production, said that in Washington he found that Israel’s positions were misrepresented as a result of Israel’s image as distorted by the media. “The image and the conception of Israel” is the real problem, Rom said.

According to Rom, Israel made “an error” in regard to the issues of Israeli settlements and Resolution 242 “in not presenting the settlements as a basic security requirement for Israel.” As for Resolution 242, he said that he encountered numerous questions in Washington regarding Israel’s interpretation of the resolution. He said the recent announcement by Jerusalem affirming its adherence to 242 as a basis for negotiations with the neighboring Arab states was a positive move in clarifying the issue.

CITES MAJOR DISTORTION

Rom said that he met with Congressmen, State Department officials and White House aides and that he got the impression that there are groups saying that it is better to accept Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s approach to a settlement in the Mideast than have another war in the area.

The major distortion, he added, is that Israel is seen as responsible for the standstill in negotiations with Egypt. “It is Sadat who is not willing to resume negotiations,” Rom said, pointing out that the Egyptian President did not respond to Israel’s peace plan as presented to him by Premier Menachem Begin last December in Ismailia.

“A lot of people are still under the spell of Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem. It was a big step, but now we have to come down to earth and resume negotiations in the customary, regular way,” Rom said.

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