Warren Hoge, the foreign editor of THE NEW YORK TIMES, stated in a personal letter to a reader, dated May 29, 1984, “When and if Mr. Arafat calls for mutual recognition and negotiations with Israel, you will read about it prominently displayed on the front page of The New York Times.”
Incredibly, Hoge’s statement was made a month after THE LONDON OBSERVER (4/29/84) published an interview by Patrick Seale with Yasser Arafat which said, in part, “Yasser Arafat, chairman of the PLO, called last week for direct talks with Israel, under the umbrella of the United Nations, to secure ‘a just peace in which there is no victor and no vanquished.”‘
Not only didn’t the story make the TIMES’ front page, it was conspicuous by its absence on any of the TIMES’ pages or the pages of the WASHINGTON POST for that matter.
On May 4, 1984, the French weekly LE NOUVEL OBSERVATEUR quoted Arafat’s offer of “a direct negotiation, the Israelis and ourselves, under UN protection.” Asked about the question of mutual recognition, Arafat stated: “I would be in favor of a mutual recognition between the two states.” Again, not a word in the TIMES.
On may 6, 1984, a UPI news wire story was reprinted in THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, and several other urban dailies, but not THE NEW YORK TIMES nor THE WASHINGTON POST The UPI story said, in part: “PLO leader Yasser Arafat called Saturday for UN-sanctioned negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and urged Israel to work with him for peace in the Middle East.”
Also ignored by America’s leading press was Israel’s response to Arafat’s offer, contained in an AP wire service story of May 5: “Israel officials yesterday rejected what is believed to be a first public offer by the PLO for mutual recognition and direct negotiations on the future of the Israeli-occupied West Bank …”
American soldiers have died by the hundreds in the Middle East. Innocent civilians, foreign and native, have been the objects of kidnapping and terrorism and slaughter. The ostensible cause of all this tragedy and suffering is the ever-simmering Arab-Israeli conflict.
In this context, it is sickening to realize that America’s leading news media have overlooked, ignored, or censored what may have been the first meaningful PLO peace initiative in the history of this conflict. Instead, the press continues to portray Arafat as a fanatic who refuses to consider anything but the destruction of Israel, and speaks of the passionate US-Israel desire for peace, blocked by the bloody Arabs.
Personal letter from Warren Hogue, Foreign Editor, THE NEWS YORK TIMES, to Mr. Nabeel Abraham, Bloomfield, Michigan, May 29, 1984; I&P: ISRAEL & PALESTINE POLITICAL REPORT, May 1984, “One-Sided Dialogue,” by Maxim Ghilan, p 1.; THE GUARDIAN, 11/14/84, “Reviving Israel’s ‘Pointless legends,”‘ by Noam Chomsky, p 19.