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Times Poll on American Jews

April 24, 1988

I was appalled to read the distortions in Scheer's reporting of the Friends of Peace Now rally in Beverly Hills held on March 13.

Scheer uses the rally and a speech by Abba Eban to illustrate a split in Jewish opinion. He tells of a near-riot, of a "line of policemen" that prevented the storming of the stage, and an audience of 1,000 that was unprepared for an angry band of hecklers.

As a Jew, I was there to observe and listen. I had formed no opinion as to how Israel should deal with the current problems in the occupied territories. I was there at least 30 minutes before the rally started and stayed to observe after it was over. These are the facts:

* There were various discussions and arguments between opposing viewpoints, some loud, some heated, as can be expected. When the rally started, people turned their attention to the speakers, and most of them left the park as the rally abruptly ended. This is hardly a near-riot.

* A "line of policemen" protecting the stage simply did not exist. There were two or three policemen at the bottom of the steps to the stage, and no one tried to storm it.

* And the hecklers? These were approximately 200 members and supporters of the Jewish Defense League, which Scheer failed to mention.

Scheer's use of the rally for illustrative purposes is fine. To report things that did not happen as fact is anathema to the journalism profession. He portrays Jews in a bad light by discussions of a "Jewish riot."

Since he obviously was not there, he could have gotten his facts by simply reading his own newspaper (Metro, March 14).


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