WASHINGTON (Apr. 13)
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir chided the American news media Thursday for failing to understand that the Palestinian uprising is not civil disobedience, but a continuation of the Arab war against Israel.
“I believe that in the rush to portray the riots as a confrontation between the Israeli Goliath and the Palestinian David, the media has missed the essential meaning of the uprising,” Shamir said in a speech to the annual convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editor.
“It is a form of warfare directed against us and against Arabs who live in peace with us,” he said.
Shamir said the media have missed the point because of a failure to understand the Arab culture and “the difficulty in putting events in historical perspective.”
To illustrate his point, Shamir said that two weeks after Yasir Arafat announced he was renouncing terrorism and seeking coexistence with Israel, he told his branch of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Al Fatah, that he seeks “the peace of Saladin.”
The Arabs see Saladin as the hero who attacked the Crusaders in Palestine, “concluded an armistice and finally attacked them again until they were totally driven out,” Shamir said.
He said Arafat was assuring his listeners that he was trying to achieve in stages the destruction of Israel.
DOUBLE STANDARD FOR ISRAEL
A similar statement that a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would only be a stage in the struggle for all of Palestine was made recently by Nabil Shaath, chairman of the Palestine National Council’s political committee.
Shaath was scheduled to address the newspaper editors before Shamir, but because of Israeli protests, his talks was rescheduled.
Shamir said the media had used the words “occupied territory” for so long that “there is a whole generation of people who believe that one day in 1967 Israel decided to attack its neighbors and occupy their land.”
The prime minister said that Israel as a democracy should be held to a higher standard than its neighbors. But instead, it is held to “not a higher standard, but a double standard.”
An editor from Wichita, Kan., accused Israel of “a despicable policy” of arresting “innocent” people, bulldozing homes and killing and injuring Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Shamir responded that none of those arrested is innocent. “We don’t want to kill anyone,” he said. “Any Arab who is killed is a blow for us, very painful for us.”