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Media, Public Criticism Harm Israel, Abram Asserts

March 8, 1988
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An anti-Israel bias among news media and public criticism by U.S. Jews are tormenting Israel as it tries to quell the unrest in the administered territories, according to Morris Abram, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

The morality of Israel “is high and noble. Its soldiers are pure, and the press is dreadfully unfair,” Abram said Sunday night at the 80th anniversary dinner here of the Bnai Zion fraternal organization.

He and Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, were presented awards at the dinner.

Abram charged that “the press itself believes that Israel has no right to be there. Then anything you do to a soldier is right and anything the soldier does to respond is wrong.”

The Jewish leader, who had just returned from a four-day Conference of Presidents mission to Israel, also criticized public criticism of Israel by U.S. Jews because, he said, it “gives the impression that we are disagreeing with Israel in the most fundamental ways . . . I feel it is not productive.

“Having built this land was the most precious dream. I don’t wish to see it impaired by self-righteous double standards.”

Asked preceding the dinner to explain his opposition to the public criticism given a closeness between American Jews and Israel akin to strong family ties, Abram replied, “Family members don’t have enemies waiting in the wings to annihilate them.”

Netanyahu criticized press coverage of the unrest for encouraging violence. “There are now hotels in East Jerusalem where within five minutes of their arrival,” he said, “foreign journalists have been approached with offers: ‘What do you want to see today — broken arms, broken legs? We can arrange it. Do you want a small riot, a medium-sized riot or a large riot?’ “

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