NEW YORK (Nov. 2)
The Jewish National Fund said today that it has asked the American Broadcasting Co. “for a public retraction” of the “erroneous and misleading representation” of Raanan Weitz as the director of the JNF in one sequence of the documentary film “Terror in the Promised Land,” broadcast by the ABC-TV network Monday night.
In a statement released today, Dr. Samuel I. Cohen, executive vice-president of the JNF, said “The ABC film described Mr. Weitz as the director of the Jewish National Fund and he then, in response to allegations that Israel had expropriated Arab land, proceeded to make statements that did not in any way reflect the policies and activities of the JNF.”
Cohen noted that “Mr. Weitz has no connection whatsoever with the Jewish National Fund and for ABC-TV to present him as a spokesman of the JNF is a total fabrication.” Weitz is co-chairman of the World Zionist Organization’s settlement department.
Cohen said that as a result of the misidentification “the offices of the Jewish National Fund, here in New York and in many cities around the world, were flooded with calls from indignant citizens concerning” Weitz’s statements.
“We have therefore asked the ABC-TV network to afford us an opportunity for a public retraction,” Cohen said, and “we also wish to be afforded the opportunity to assure all Americans who believe in the cause of Israel, that the Jewish National Fund, throughout its long history, has pursued a policy of ethical and legal land acquisition…at high and sometimes exorbitant cost, for the benefit of the Jewish people everywhere.”
ADL REFUTES ABC CHARGES
ABC officials acknowledged this week that telephone response to the documentary on Palestinian terrorists was overwhelmingly negative. They maintained, however, that at least half of the protest calls were received before the program was aired and appeared to be part of an organized campaign. Many of the callers were school children.
The ABC officials charged that the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith was responsible for the pre-broadcast phone-ins. They acknowledged that ABC denied an ADL request for a preview screening on grounds that previews were not granted to “special interest groups.”
Responding to these charges, the ADL’s general counsel, Arnold Forster, said ABC television’s false assertion that ADL organized telephone calls by children protesting the network’s pro-PLO program is “silly on its face.” According to Forster, “If we were to organize phone calls, we would not have to use children. In fact, we did urge our constituents to tune in the program and afterwards express themselves as they saw fit to the network about the broadcast.”
Forster said the ADL would “analyze every word and scene” of the documentary for “any suspicion of falsification” and, in that case, would “file an appropriate complaint with the FCC.”