TEL AVIV — Anatoly Shcharansky said today that he had been duped into meeting with a Palestine Liberation Organization supporter and described the PLO as "an organization of cutthroats."
Shcharansky took quarter-page ads in the English-language Jerusalem Post and the afternoon daily Maariv branding the PLO as a group of "wild animals."
Shcharansky met for an hour Tuesday with Faisal Husseini, director of the Palestinian Culture Center in Jerusalem and a PLO supporter, and with the head of the Palestinian Journalists Assn., Adil abu Raya.
The Palestinians were seeking Shcharansky's help in fighting the deportation of a Palestinian newspaper editor, Akram Haniyeh.
Haniyeh, 33, editor of the East Jerusalem daily Al Shaab, is accused of links with the outlawed PLO and hostile activity. He is jailed while he appeals the expulsion order.
Right-wing religious nationalists sharply criticized Shcharansky for the meeting, reported Wednesday in Maariv. Husseini told a news conference today that Shcharansky's ads resulted from right-wing pressure, and accused him of giving in to "intellectual terrorism."
"When I met him I felt I was in the presence of a great man prepared to look across religious and political borders," Husseini said. "But it was a defeated and frightened Shcharansky" who issued the statement.
Shcharansky said in the ads: "Both the purpose and the barbarous methods of this organization of cutthroats violate every human standard. The PLO and those who support it have placed themselves beyond the pale of civilized society."
Shcharansky was released and allowed to emigrate in February after nine years in Soviet jails and labor camps. His record in the Soviet Union as both a Jewish nationalist and a champion of human rights made him a unique figure, able to win the affection of both the left and right in Israel.
But the report of the meeting sparked angry criticism from religious nationalist Jews who helped his wife, Avital, during her battle for his freedom.
Legislator Chaim Druckman of the National Religious Party demanded on Israel radio that Shcharansky apologize for "this blow to the Jewish people and the state of Israel."
Sources close to Shcharansky said he was tricked into meeting Husseini by Abu Raya. They said Abu Raya told Shcharansky that he wanted to give him information about the Haniyeh case, but did not say Husseini would accompany him.