Page 4, 9th July 1982

9th July 1982
Page 4
Page 4, 9th July 1982 — Thinking aloud

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People: Plenipotentiary
Locations: Nabatiyeh, Tyre, Beirut, Sidon, London


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Thinking aloud

ISRAEL is obviously the aggressor in the present conflict in Israel. She is once more guilty of killing innocent people and of putting her nationalistic ambitions before humanitarian considerations.

This at least is what everyone believes, and with good reason, because that is what all the newspapers, and other organs of the media, have been saying. And such organs tend to be gospel reading.

The number of civilians, for example, rumoured to have been killed in southern Lebanon up to three weeks ago ranged from 10,000 to 15,000. These are indeed homble figures which, if true, would rightly make Israel murderously culpable.

It turns out, however, that the figures are imaginary, their apparent source having been the PLO in Beirut. The Government of Israel decided to make a full check through the civilian assistance unit of its defence forces.

Local sources, such as Lebanese doctors and hospital staff, estimated the total dead in the major southern Lebanese towns of Sidon, Tyre and Nabatiyeh as 460. This was during the same period as that in which the PLO were claiming that up to 15,000 had been killed.

There have so far been no corrections or major retractions in British media circles. And, as is now well known, a letter to The Sunday Times from the Israel Minister Plenipotentiary in London was refused publication for what seemed very unconvincing reasons.

Israel is not blameless and does not claim to be so. There is grievous heart-searching among the British Jewish community as to the lengths to which it is permissible to go to secure safety for The Land. Is there any heart-searching among Christians?

Why, one might say, should there be? One must keep one's head over such emotive issues, some of which make ordinarily nice people unattractively irrational. History, however, provides sobering lessons.

We all know that there have been many pogroms, some very terrible. Always the starting point was the spreading of false

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