NEW YORK (Apr. 28)
Two representatives of leading American Jewish organizations have rapped as “biased” and “defamatory” the recently broadcast one-hour ABC-TV News closeup, “Fortress Israel,” which purported to show what effect Israel,” which purported to show what effect Israel’s policies in the occupied territories coupled with the increased militarization of the Jewish State has had on Israeli citizens.
In a letter to ABC-TV News president, Roone Arledge, Charlotte Jacobson, chairman of the World Zionist Organization-American Section said the program aired April 21 failed to “demonstrate the fact that Israel’s ideals of human rights, cultural and spiritual revitalization and political and economic determination are a living reality despite her struggle for existence.”
Mrs. Jacobson said that she and “many other viewers will turn to other channels” for a more balanced news coverage. “I cannot imagine that your advertisers can be happy at the fact that it has become impossible for so many of their prospective consumers to continue to watch ABC-TV” and in “their … outrage at your blatant anti Israel bias, will turn away from their products in protest,” Mrs. Jacobson wrote.
At the same time, Phil Baum, associate executive director of the American Jewish Congress, charged that ABC-News, in presenting “another defamatory show an Israel,” has “put forward the thesis that Israel’s policy toward the West Bank consists of nothing but expansionism and brutal repression of its Palestinians Arab inhabitants and that this policy threatens to consume Israel’s ‘very meaning as a nation’.”
ADDITIONAL SHORTCOMINGS CITED
In a statement released here, Baum said that ABC failed to mention Israel’s policy to grant autonomy to the West Bank Palestinian under the provisions of the Camp David accords; that the “driving” force behind the recent unrest in the occupied areas is the Palestine Liberation Organization; and that Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai was presented in “negative terms.”
Furthermore, Baum charged that the Zionist movement’s struggle to create a Jewish State was reduced in the documentary “to a seemingly neurotic response to the Holocaust.” While Israel is at peace with Egypt and the Jewish State “remains a colorful and attractive country,” Baum pointed out, Israel “is shown only as a somber fortress bristling with deadly weapons and surrounded by barbed wire.”
This is the second time in two months that members of the Jewish community have criticized an ABC-News presentation on the conflict in the Mideast. Last February, a 16-minute documentary, “Under the Israel Thumb,” telecast as part of the ABC-TV News magazine, “20/20” program, which presented Israel as a relentless occupier of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, was similarly denounced by American Jewish leaders and by the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem for its “unbalanced” presentation.