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Shamir Criticizes News Media During a Bumpy Visit to L.a.

November 21, 1989
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Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir had a bumpy three-day visit to the West Coast.

While using various platforms to lash out at the world news media for alleged unfairness to Israel, he was himself the target of criticism by the local Jewish community for snubbing the leadership of the Jewish Federation Council, while paying personal calls on two ardent Likud supporters.

Those visits, moreover, may have had a fund-raising component, despite vehement denials from Shamir’s aides.

On Saturday evening, Shamir visited the homes of Jonathan Mitchell and Alan Casden.

Mitchell, who is president of the Southern California region of the American Technion Society, invited 100 guests to meet the prime minister, each of whom had to donate $1,000.

Half of the expected $100,000 was earmarked for the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The rest was to go to Youth Towns for Israel, identified only as a Likud-supported charity.

According to one source, a Shamir aide told organizers that nothing about the event was to appear in the news media.

Casden, a lay leader of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, also welcomed Shamir at his home.

Avi Pazner, Shamir’s media adviser, said the prime minister went to Mitchell’s home to meet friends of the Technion, and to Casden’s to take part in the dedication of his new home.

The criticism of Shamir’s failure to meet with the Federation Council leadership was raised by its president, George Caplan.


Caplan said in a telephone interview that “whenever the prime minister or a top Israeli leader visits a community in these critical times, they should set aside time to meet with the major community leadership, especially on problems of Soviet Jewish immigration and the peace process.”

Caplan said that the federation leaders attempted to arrange a meeting with Shamir, who came to Los Angeles directly from Cincinnati, where he addressed the 58th General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations last Thursday.

Pazner observed in a telephone interview that the Los Angeles delegation was at the General Assembly.

Caplan responded that Shamir’s address in Cincinnati was no substitute for a face-to-face meeting in Los Angeles.

Caplan later introduced Shamir at a community rally at Temple Beth Am, sponsored by the Jewish Federation Council.

Shamir’s greatest annoyance with media coverage of Israel was aimed at purportedly anti-Semitic, anti-Israel cartoons by the Los Angeles Times’ popular editorial cartoonist, Paul Conrad.

Shamir raised the issue at a closed meeting with the Times editorial board.

Times Editor Shelby Coffey III denied Conrad was anti-Semitic and pointed to his equally abrasive cartoons aimed at other countries and the U.S. administration.

Shamir also criticized the world media in two public addresses Sunday.

He told 1,300 guests at a black-tie dinner hosted by the Wiesenthal Center that television, in particular, fails to report the Palestinian uprising in its historical context.

Among the guests were stars from the entertainment industry, as well as leaders of the Jewish community and business world.

Speaking to a community rally of 1,500 people at Temple Beth Am, sponsored by the Jewish Federation Council, Shamir charged that the news media do not report the real threat facing Israel from the armies of the neighboring Arab states.

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