JERUSALEM (Jul. 8)
A united front of democratic governments to combat global terrorism was urged in a statement adopted at the closing session of a four-day conference on international terrorism here last Thursday night, attended by leading public figures from Israel, the United States and other countries. One of the participants, Sen Henry M. Jackson (D. Wash), proposed after the conference closed, that America’s Freedom of Information Act be revised.
“We need to revise certain excesses In the American law to build up the acquiring of effective information and the ability to disseminate it in a timely way,” Jackson said, During the discussion, Ma. Gen. George Keegan, former chief of At Force intelligence, and George Bush, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, warned that if terrorism is to be eradicated, sources of intelligence, notably the CIA and FBI must be protected and given freet rein in their activities.
The conference was sponsored by the Jonathan Institute, created in memory of the late Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu who commanded the Israeli force that rescued 100 Air France hijack hostages at Entebbe Airport, Uganda, on July 3-4, 1976 and was killed in that operation.
One theme sounded by many of the participants was that the Soviet Union is the motivating force and instigator of many world-wide terrorist movements. That charge was leveled at the opening session by a British defense writer, Brian Cnozier, who said the Soviets were behind the Portuguese Communist Party’s activities on behalf of various African guerrilla movements, and by Robert Moss, of the Economist, who claimed that the Kremlin was deeply involved in every stage of the Iranian revolution and was now helping the Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua and stirring trouble in Turkey.
MASS MEDIA UNDER FIRE
Most of the participants attacked the mass media as being in indirect collusion with terrorism and one observed that “The free press cannot be neutral or objective.” Although an aura of political conservatism prevailed at the conference, there was some lively dissent from statements such as one that “To understand terrorism you must understand that it is part of a 60 year commitment on the part of the Soviet leadership, which as for back as 1919 documented the guidelines for world-wide revolutionary terrorism.”
Asked later if the absence of “leftist” representation at the conference did not in some way taint it, Jackson replied, “If I’m hardline in foreign policy it’s because I’m committed to freedom and on the issue of freedom there has never been a division” between liberals and conservatives. Significantly, however, the conference declined to adopt a resolution at its close but issued a “statement attesting to the views of the majority.”
It called for a unanimous condemnation of terrorism by all leading democratic nations, the enforcement of an international convention against terrorism which would deny political status to terrorists and permit implementation of diplomatic and economic sanctions against states that aided in terrorist activities. The statement called for legislation by the democracies to enforce The Hague, Tokyo and Montreal Conventions dealing with aerial piracy.
While many of the key participants praised the conference for bringing the problem of terrorism into international focus, others found fault with it on precisely that point. “This was more an exercise in public relations than anything else, we’ve taken no practical decisions,” one delegate said. Another told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency: “The way to deal with terrorism is through a closed forum or a panel of experts who can deal with terrorists in a concrete fashion. What we’ve done through this conference is give the terrorists exactly what they thrive on – media coverage.”
During the course of the conference, many of the delegates attended graveside ceremonies memorializing Netanyahu on the third anniversary of his death. Premier Menachem Begin, Labor Party opposition leader Shimon Peres, and Knesset Speaker Yitzhak Shamir were also present, as was Jackson. The Senator who received an honorary degree from the Hebrew University last Monday, had earlier denounced the Palestine Liberation Organization.