4 DECEMBER 1982, Page 18


Blood libels

Sir: Surely Paul Johnson is mistaken when he asserts in his article on the press (20 November) that the heavy coverage by the Western media of the killings in Beirut in September 1982 was due solely to the anti- Israeli angle.

The subject of the continuing Palesti- nian/Israeli war is, or should be, of con- siderable concern to everyone who wishes to live in a peaceful world. Quite properly the media have had a focus on this war. The two main participants were not both involv- ed on the occasions of the killing of Chris- tians by Moslems: regrettably the Israelis were involved in the killing of Palestinians by Christians, at least by reason of their control of the area in which it took place and their admission that it was decided to allow the Christian forces to clear the camp of the remaining terrorists. The essential difference between the two sorts of massacre is in the wider implications arising from the circumstances of the latter killing; accordingly one would expect this to give rise to heavier media coverage.

I am told that a good Counsel would ad- vise a complainant that the best way to deal with the disadvantaged situation that can arise when one is libelled is to ignore the libel whenever possible. What Paul Johnson sets out to achieve by parading 'blood libels' (of which some of us were previously unaware) in three columns of this journal I fail to understand. By such very writings do libels continue to circulate. Moreover one would hope for a less inept refutation than to be told that historical blood libels of the Jews were found to be completely baseless by Christian sovereigns 'who had their own financial reasons for wishing to protect the Jewish communities'. If he can do no better than that he should join me on the Clapham omnibus.

According to the anti-anti-semites, the Government of Israel cannot be accused of any wrong, for whoever makes such an ac- cusation is, ipso facto, guilty of anti- semitism; such an absurd argument can do no good fo'r the Israeli cause or that of world Jewry.

R. L. Rickard

12 Bowden Close, Coombe Dingle, Bristol