An Open letter to the oped editor of the EU Observer
Euobserver.com is a web site that deals with day-to-day news coverage
of European Union affairs.On December 30, 2011 it published an article by
former ambassador to South Africa, Alon Liel under the title
"Israel needs outside 'interference'".
On January 3, Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, submitted
an oped in response to the aforementioned article and on January 4 he was
advised that it had been accepted and would be published soon. However
this was unexpectedly followed by requests for explanations and revisions
until on January 12, NGO Monitor was told that the op-ed would not be
I sent an open letter (copiied below) to the oped editor on Jan. 17 and
received an immediate acknowledgment, In his response the oped editor Mr.
Rettman advised that he had offered NGO Monitor space for a letter
instead of a full oped. NGO Monitor advises that indeed it had received
an offer to submit a letter of 100-150 words, which it considered
completely inadequate to deal with the subject.
To view the entire correspondence click here
An Open letter to the oped editor of the EU Observer
January 17, 2012
Dear Mr. Andrew Rettman
With reference to the December 30 article by Alon Liel
"Israel needs outside 'interference'
", Professor Gerald
Steinberg has kindly shared with me, copies of his correspondence with
you about your refusal to publish the response he submitted, despite your
having previously agreed to publish it.
First of all I must tell you that I am sincerely impressed by your
in depth questions about certain of the content of Professor Steinberg's
submission. If you have read "Flat Earth News" by awardwinning reporter Nick Davies, in
which he decries the prevalent lack of substantiation of what is offered
as "information" in the media, you will understand why I am so
impressed by your detailed analysis of Professor Steinberg's article.
Your questioning is refreshing and unusual in comparison with the general
media trend, described by Davies, in which "A story appears to be
true. It is widely accepted as true. It becomes a heresy to suggest that
it is not true even if it is riddled with falsehood, distortion and
What concerns me however is why you did not apply the same procedure to
Alon Liel's article. Why was he not asked to substantiate his many
dubious opinions that are stated as facts? For example his statement that
proposed bills submitted to the Knesset are strikingly similar to
legislation in apartheid South Africa? While there are cogent
reasons to criticize aspects of the bills to which Liel refers, it is not
legitimate to use correlations that are spurious. Having been an
anti-apartheid activist when I lived in South Africa, I assure you that a
modicum of research into both the apartheid legislation and the wording
of the bills referred to by Liel will convince you that suggestions of
resemblance are far-fetched. If you will allow me the space I will
gladly provide you with detailed credible evidence of this.
It is understandable that Mr. Liel's reference to the Schlebusch
Commission is inaccurate as he did not arrive in South Africa until 1992,
long after the commission was established in 1972. I recall the
Schlebusch commission well as I was living in South Africa at the time
and I had been an early member of NUSAS, one of the organizations that
became "affected" by it. If Mr. Liel were not so intent on
supporting the popular but erroneous campaign to identify Israel with
South African apartheid, he would have drawn attention to the much closer
resemblance of the proposed Israeli legislation to the US Foreign Agents
Registration Act (FARA), designed to keep the U.S. Government informed of
the source of information and the identity of persons attempting to
influence U.S. public opinion, policy, and laws. FARA applies to
financing by any person and any entity organized under the laws of a
foreign country or having its principal place of business in a foreign
country. It requires that all informational materials must be labelled
with a conspicuous statement that the information is disseminated by the
agents on behalf of the foreign principal. The resemblance of FARA to the
bills before the Knesset is remarkable.
Mr. Liel's quote by the late Helen Suzman "South Africa is
slipping more and more into the control of a growing body of secret men,
making secret investigations and reports
" may be accurate as
applied to the old south Africa, but having known her, I am sure that
were she alive today, the well-informed leader of the South African
Progressive Party would have objected to any suggestion of a resemblance
between that situation and present day Israel.
Referring to your refusal to publish Professor Steinberg's response to
Liel's article even after he answered all your queries and even though he
altered several passages at your suggestion, I ask in all sincerity
whether the EU Observer denies the RIGHT OF REPLY embodied in Resolution
74 (26) adopted in 1974 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of
Europe. Minimum Rules Regarding the Right of Reply set out in an
1. Any natural and legal person, as well as other bodies, irrespective of
nationality or residence, mentioned in a newspaper, a periodical, a radio
or television broadcast, or in any other medium of a periodical nature,
regarding whom or which facts have been made accessible to the public
which he claims to be inaccurate, may exercise the right of reply in
order to correct the facts concerning that person or body.
2. At the request of the person concerned, the medium in question shall
be obliged to make public the reply which the person concerned has sent
This letter is being widely publicized as will the considered response I
hope to receive from you.