We would like to begin this first issue for 1985 with heartfelt thanks to our readers for your very strong support over the past year. Your unprecedented generosity in response to our fundraising appeals was essential to our work, and we appreciate very much the confidence this expresses for MERIP’s future. In this coming year we will continue to count on your help. The need for a strong, critical perspective on US policy in the region will be more important than ever as the Reagan administration begins its second term. We are grateful to know that you are with us. One innovation we are planning for this year is a special newsletter for those who contribute $50 or more to MERIP’s work. The first issue will appear shortly. We would be delighted to include each of you on this distinguished list, and we encourage those who have not already done so to make a contribution or a pledge of $50 or more for 1985. Do it today.
The Israeli armed forces radio runs a program which interviews Israeli troops in occupied south Lebanon, giving them a chance to send “live” messages back home. According to Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, one soldier won the loud applause of his comrades when he sent this greeting: “Regards to Arik Sharon, who is enjoying himself in New York, from the suckers in Lebanon.” There is no similar program recording the message that the Palestinian and Lebanese victims of Sabra and Shatila might have for the six New York jurors who recently agreed with Sharon that Time magazine had falsely defamed him by reporting his responsibility for the Phalangist massacres in September 1982. It is hard to fault the jurors, though, given Time’s failure to mount any defense of its report. In its public acknowledgement that the secret appendix of the Kahan Commission report did not refer directly to Sharon’s discussing “revenge” with Phalangist leaders, Time said it stood by the substance of its story. But in the courtroom, Time spokespersons repeatedly argued that the story never meant to suggest that Sharon “intended” or bore any direct responsibility for the massacres. This is exactly what the story did mean, and correctly so. Sharon’s intentions towards the Palestinians have always been clear, certainly ever since the bloody terrorist attack he led on the Palestinian village of Kibya in October 1953. Regarding Kibya, Sharon recently told the Washington Post that he just “implemented an order that I got.” In Lebanon, Sharon was giving the orders, and the order to allow the Phalangist militia into Sabra and Shatila was fully in keeping with Sharon’s aim of “dispersing”Lebanon’s Palestinians. The question is, why did Time prefer to lose this suit rather than present, through motions of discovery that are the prerogative of the defendant, a case that would persuade any jury?
The New York Post, especially since it has been in the hands of Rupert Murdoch, frequently indulges in the most sensationalist incitement of racist sentiments toward Arabs and Palestinians. A particularly disgusting instance occurred on November 26, when it ran a cover photo of Adrien Wing, of the National Conference of Black Lawyers, “embracing] terror chief Yasser Arafat.” The page two headline was “New York Lawyer Beats Drum for PLO.” Wing, who represents the NCBL at the United Nations, attended the Palestine National Council meeting in Amman in November. “At the PNC,” Wing wrote to MERIP, “I was one of perhaps 50 speakers from all over the world who made brief remarks followed by a customary embrace from Chairman Arafat.” She charges that the Post’s headlines and stories were intended to “fan the flames of racism and fears of anti-Semitism” in this country, and to “destroy the credibility of any black individual or organization who dares to speak out on behalf of the internationally recognized rights of the Palestinian people.” Following the Post’s attack, she, the law firm she works for, and the NCBL received threats of physical harm and economic blackmail. In a December 5 statement, the organization forcefully condemned the harassment and intimidation initiated by the Post, and pointed out that its position on the Middle East “is shaped and informed by contemporary international law” — claim that neither the Post nor the US government can make.