NEW YORK (Feb. 8)
ABC News denied today that it has plans to produce a new television film on the West Bank giving the “Israeli viewpoint.” The denial was issued following reports from Israel that an ABC production crew was due there shortly.
A segment on the West Bank titled “Under the Israeli Thumb,” which appeared on the ABC-TV “20-20” program last Thursday night, was strongly criticized for pro-Arab bias by Israeli officials and friends here and abroad. It reportedly drew expressions of intense displeasure from Premier Menachem Begin in Jerusalem and the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Shmuel Moyal, press attache at the Israel Consulate in New York, called the segment “entirely unbalanced” and a “gross distortion of history.”
According to the reports from Israel today, the network proposed to produce a new film on the subject and the Prime Minister’s Office offered it “every facility and aid.” ABC News, in issuing its denial, noted that during the preparation of the segment for last week’s “20-20” program, repeated requests were made for a responsible Israeli official to address the issues raised in the report.
ABC News said it stands by this broadcast and invites the questions and comments of the Israeli government or any other concerned party.
Meanwhile, Ivan Novick, president of the Zionist Organization of America, urged the American public today to join in protesting the “20-20” segment on the West Bank broadcast February 4. In a letter to Roore Arledge, president of ABC News, Novick urged that it immediately schedule another segment showing “the positive side of the issue and the point of view of the government of Israel.”
Last Thursday’s program was also sharply attacked by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. George Klein and Jack Friedgut, chairmen of the JCRC’s Commission on International Concern, termed the documentary biased and misleading. In a letter to Arledge, they said the program was “a prepackaged presentation that amounted to little more than a restatement of Arab propaganda and accusations.”