BLOOD LIBEL: The Inside Story of General Ariel Sharon's History-Making Suit Against Time Magazine by Uri Dan

BLOOD LIBEL: The Inside Story of General Ariel Sharon's History-Making Suit Against Time Magazine

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A partisan and exculpatory account of the Sharon/Time magazine case, of interest mainly for the firsthand detail it adds to this oft-told tale. A respected journalist and author (90 Minutes at Entebbe, The Mossad), Dan was Defense Minister Sharon's press attachÉ during Israel's 1982 campaign against the PLO in Lebanon. He accompanied the general on the condolence call paid to members of the Gemayel family one day after the Lebanese president-elect was assassinated. Within 48 hours, Phalangists entered two refugee camps in West Beirut and slaughtered hundreds of Palestinian civilians. Jersualem quickly convened a commission to inquire into the massacre, which had aroused an international furor; its final report strongly criticized Sharon but largely cleared him of direct responsibility for the bloodbath. Time nonetheless published a cover story that, among other things, charged that Sharon discussed revenge during his visit to the Gemayels. Accusing the magazine of libel against not only himself but also the state of Israel and the Jewish people, Sharon brought suit. Dan was present for much of the trial (in New York City) and at many of the out-of-court strategy sessions. After the principals' intransigence aborted some settlement possibilities, Sharon won a split decision as the jury found Time guilty of defamation and shoddy journalism but not malice--in the legal sense of the word. The verdict allowed both sides to claim victory, and Dan makes the vet- most of the opportunity. Which is precisely the problem with his relentlessly one-sided text. Without exception, Sharon's critics and political opponents (including ""self-appointed Jewish dignitaries"") are depicted as malevolent, misguided, or worse. By contrast, the author portrays Sharon as a kind of activist Galahad whose deeds and motives are above reproach, let alone suspicion. In brief, the author doth protest too much. A far better balanced if somewhat less vivid recap of this cause cÉlÉbre is included in Rodney A. Smolla's Suing the Press (1986, p. 709).

Pub Date: March 13th, 1987
Publisher: Simon & Schuster