Beat the devil.
If Ariel Sharon can have his day in court, the same hospitality should be offered other foreign public figures. The Sandinista directorate in general and Tomas Borge in particular have been accused in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States. Similar accusations have been leveled against Fidel Castro and his government in The Miami Herald's Sunday magazine. These are serious charges which, if matters ever take a turn for the worse for the principals involved, would seriously affect their chances of setting up business in the United States or of obtaining an American Express card. All "proof" of the drug smuggling has come from the uncorroborated testimony of defendants charged with similar offenses, seeking to plea-bargain within the U.S. court system. Both Castro and the Sandinistas have a good case, and I look forward to their appearance in the Federal courthouse downtown without delay. Sharon the Swine
It seems barely credible, but Sharon has so far emerged from his legal battle with Time with reputation enhanced. This is quite an achievement for one of the vilest men in the world today, a thug so drenched in blood that he makes Roberto d'Aubuisson look like Aryeh Neier. Remember, we speak here of the veteran of Unit 101, of Qibya, of Kafr Kassem; of the "pacifier" of Gaza between 1969 and 1972; of a man for whose resignation, in the wake of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre, even the Kahan Commission called.
Can people have forgotten for what Sharon as Israeli Defense Minister had overall responsibility? It was well known that the Phalangists would perpetrate massacres if allowed into the camps, but Sharon's forces organized their entry. It was well known that the camps were undefended and that the supposed presence of 2,000 terrorists was a myth. Within hours of the Phalangists' entry into the camps on Thursday evening, those in the Israeli command post within eyeshot and earshot knew that the massacre was going on. Phalangist and Israeli officers, intelligence and liaison personnel were at this command post. The Israeli Defense Force provided flares throughout Thursday night to facilitate the slaughter, and then on Friday, when the massacre was even more widely known, sent the Phalangists back in with a bulldozer to push bodies into a grave that could be seen from the command post. Sharon's chief of staff, Rafael Eytan, authorized use of the I.D.F. bulldozer, commending the Phalangists for their "good work.c Thirty-six hours after the Phalange murderers had gone in, the I.D.F., for which Sharon was responsible, was claiming that it knew nothing of the massacre.
Why had the Phalange been allowed in? On September 19, 1982, David Shipler reported in The New York Times that as early as mid-June, Israeli officials were speaking privately of a plan, being considered by Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, to allow the Phalangists to go into west Beirut and the camps against the Palestine Liberation Organization. The calculation was that the Phalangists, with old scores to settle and detailed information on the Palestinian fighters, would be more ruthless than the Israelis and probably more effective.
Analyzing the Kahan Commission report, Israeli journalist and politician Uri Aveneri concluded, along with other Israeli journalists, that the I.D.F. had let the Phalange in to perpetrate a massacre and thus cause a panic flight of Palestininas from Lebanon.
One might have thought that Sharon would have preferred to let butchered corpses lie and steer clear of the U.S. courts. Not So.
Worse still, articles such as one by Steven Brill in The American Lawyer now argue that Time should settle, since its correspondent David Halevy has been exposed as an incompetent, with a sedulous bias against Israel. As a matter of fact, Time's reporting on Israel was at times marginally better than the squalid agitprop put out by almost all the U.S. media. The fact that Halevy may have erred on the contents of the secret annex to the Kahan Commission report in no way exonerates Sharon from the killings for which, as Defense Minister and initiator of Operation Peace for Galilee, he had overall responsibility--or permit him to claim that the magazine unfairly tarnished his reputation.
Part of the complaisant attitude scrutineers such as Brill have shown toward Sharon is caused by the fact that they find Time's reporting and fact checking to have been less than exemplary. What else is new? Are we to suppose that Time has been accurate all these years? Let the record be clear. Since the day of its inception Time has been a bullyragging propaganda sheet, mashing together factoids and fantasy in the cause of the cold war, capitalism and the American way. Such was the role allotted it by Henry Luce and such is the role carried out today under the supervision of Henry Grunwald. Now an even grater bully, about whom it told the essential truth, is manipulating opinion with the same techniques. This is the great irony.
By resting its case and maybe trying to settle, Time has shirked the task of an aggressive defense against Sharon. There are plenty of witnesses available, but perhaps Time finds them discomfiting. Perhaps it feels that the truth about Sharon could not be told without excessive perturbation of U.S.-Israeli public relations. It is certainly true that Time and Newsweek are now so cowed that their reporting on the trial has been milquetoast, lest Sharon's lawyers issue further suits and subpoenas. Thus far, in sum, this bullying swine has successfully terrorized the U.S. media.
Interviewed recently in New York City by Myra MacPherson of The Washington Post, Sharon defended himself in injured tones on the matter of the Qibya slaughter in 1953, where his Unit 101 murdered more than seventy villargers, by saying, "I implemented an order that I got." Perhaps for the tyro killer Sharon the Nuremberg defense was available. But as Minister and general in the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 he was not following orders; he was giving them.
Footnote: For really stomach-turning self-congratulation, far outstripping the mad overkiller Nat Hentoff, try Bob Brewin on Dan Burt, lawyer for William Westmoreland in the CBS case, in The Village Vocie for December 25. Brewin tries, with small success, to defend Burt from the legitimate charge that he is a flunky for big corporations and right-wing causes. Brewin has been zelous in kissing the asses of both Westmoreland and Burt throughout the trial thus far--perhaps because he is writing a book about the trial and wants to keep them as sources. Fear and Loathing
There hasn't been anything like it since the proscriptions at the time of the Catiline conspiracy, in the first century B.C. At the start of John Hess's excellent piece about The New York Times in the age of Rosenthal, published in the winter issue of Grand Street, he writes: "Many grumble about The Times but few care to do so on record. One established journalist told me about this project, 'It's a piece I could not write. I have a book coming out.'" Grand Street's onlie begetter, Ben Sonnenberg, tells me that when he first mooted the project with some potential authors, that is exactly what all of them said. They felt that to make disobliging remarks in public about A.M. Rosenthal and his repulsive claque required courage kindred to that of a fellow writing in 1938 a sharp critique in Izvestia of Stalin's political record. Only Hess displayed the necessary fortitude.
The fear of Rosenthal's vindictive temperament reaches so deep that many "established writers" feel that he will single them out as the author of the blind quote used by Hess. They should realize that in numbers lies safety. There are literally thousands of such writers who could have made this remark to Hess. Among them: Gloria Emerson, Roger Wilkins, John Leonard, Murray Kempton, Richard Severo, Harrison Salisbury, Seymour Hersh, Seymour Topping . . .
Hess has some good stuff on Rosenthal's chela, John Corry. Recounting Kulturbumpf as practiced by Corry, he says: "Objectivity took on new meaning. Corry denounced a balanced documentary on the Alger Hiss case on the ground that, since the courts had found Hiss guilty, any even-handed treatment must be ipso facto biased." Oafisher, Stop That Man
As anyone who has followed his oafish rantings in The New Republic knows well, Morton Kondracke is a fit stablemate to Martin Peretz. Fresh proof, it such were needed, came in the issue of T.N.R. dated January 7-14. Kondracke was reviewing the Administration's policy toward dictatorships and came up with this amazing sentence: "The greatest hope of Administration officials is that Marocs will stay alive long enough to set up a stable democratic system, much as Francisco Franco did in Spain." Now people with even modest historical memories may recall that Franco's great hope was to hand over power to Adm. Carrero Blanco, whose hopes of elevation were realized in a more literal form than he might have wished when Basque E.T.A. separatists blew him and his car clear over a church in the center of Madrid. Democracy came to Spain despite Franco, not because of him.
Kondracke may claim (a task formerly reserved for The New Republic's "liberal" bottle washer, rick Hertzberg, who is now departing for Cambridge, with Michael Kinsley as his designated successor) that he was merely describing the views of the Administration, not expressing his own. But it is impossible to tell in his article where Jeane Kirkpatrick stops and Kondracke begins. Furthermore, it concludes with the deferential thought that "the Reagan rules may seem permissive toward right-wing scoundrels, but if they really lead toward restoration of democracy in Chile and the Philippines, why should anyone complain?" Just for a start, I should think such complainers might include relatives of those being murdered by Pinochet's guardsmen, Chileans suffering internal and external exile, along with Filipinos murdered, jailed and tortured by Marcos's security forces. Did I Feel Dumb!
Say the word "filmscript" and a sucker will jump on your hook. See what happened to me. Right before Christmas, Derek Shearer called from Santa Monica. This is the same Shearer, a self-styled "economist," who helped engineer the Socialist Republic of Santa Monica and whose wife, Ruth Yannatta-Goldway, was for a season Mayor of that city. Usually Derek is fishing for gossip to pass along to his father, Lloyd, who holds the copyright of and writes "Walter Scott's Personality Parade" in Parade, but this time he said that a film producer was mad to get his hands on my book about chess. The book, published in 1974 under the title Idle Passion: Chess and the Dance of Death, addressed problems of psychology and the class basis of chess and is now widely unavailable.
I rushed to the post office and express mailed off to Derek one of my few remaining samples of the book. Then I went off to buy champagne and await the summons to the coast. Nothing happened, so a week later I called Derek to find out what had transpired. What was the film mogul saying? After much off-stage snickering with the ex-Mayor, Derek came back on the line and with a roguish chuckle confessed that there never had been a film producer. He'd made one up to get me over to the post office. The book was really intended for his brother-in-law Strobe Talbott, Time's "expert" on arms control and described last fall by Walter Mondale as the most intelligent man in the history of the universe. Talbott is mad about chess and Shearer said that since I had once called the man a nitwit he doubted whether I would have been eager to rush him a copy of Idle Passion. Shearer is right. I will get my own back one day. Meanwhile take this as evidence that there is always someone eager to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.
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|Title Annotation:||criticism of Ariel Sharon, Morton Kondracke, and A.M. Rosenthal plus other subjects|
|Date:||Jan 12, 1985|
|Previous Article:||No first use.|
|Next Article:||Uncivil liberties.|