Thumbs Down to Steve Weizman

To Steve Weizman, a reporter for the Associated Press, for his Feb. 23 article which misrepresents the reasons for Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon (“Ex-Israeli Ambassador to Britain Dies”). Steve Weizman’s obituary for former Israeli diplomat Shlomo Argov states:

Former Israeli ambassador to Britain Shlomo Argov, who was paralyzed during an assassination attempt by Palestinian militants that triggered Israel’s invasion of Lebanon more than 20 years ago, died Sunday. . . .

The shooting was Israel’s stated pretext for invading Lebanon four days later and laying siege to Beirut for three months until Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and his fighters were forced out of the country. . . .

Merhav said Sharon, who was defense minister at the time, had actually planned the Lebanon invasion well before Argov was shot. “The war plan was ready,” he told Israel Radio on Sunday. “He (Sharon) made no secret of it. He had presented the plan to the Americans some months before.”

While the assassination attempt “was merely the match that ignited the fuse”–in the words of Ariel Sharon–the context for Israel’s invasion was the ongoing shelling of Israeli northern communities, worldwide terrorism emanating from the Palestine Liberation Organization based in Lebanon, and the PLO’s massive buildup of long-range artillery. For example, in just one week of July 1981, more than 1000 shells and rockets were lobbed at 33 Israeli towns and settlement. During an American brokered cease-fire that year, the PLO accumulated 90 122- and 130-mm cannon and 100 vehicle-mounted Katyusha launchers as well as substantial amounts of shorter-ranger artillery (Ariel Sharon with David Chernoff, Warrior, p. 433). In addition, PLO terrorists from July 1981 and June 1982 killed 15 and wounded 250 in Israel, the West Bank, and overseas. Aborted or disrupted plans included a rocket attack on Eilat, blowing up buses and phone booths, and an attempt to explode a kindergarten near Tel Aviv. In March 1982, Israeli offices in Paris and Athens were attacked, and on April 3, PLO terrorists murdered an Israeli embassy official in Paris. It is precisely these events (among other similar incidents) which led Sharon to draw up invasion plans (dubbed “Oranim”) before Argov was shot.

By omitting mention of the seminal factors which prompted the Lebanon invasion–the shelling, illegal arms buildup, and terrorism–seriously misrepresents history.

The New York Times takes the Weizman misrepresentation to its logical but faulty conclusion by headlining the story: “Shlomo Argov, 73, Ex-Israeli Envoy; His Shooting Prompted an Invasion.”

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