Another Tack: A sacrifice in vain?

The electoral race I covered in 1981 was the most contentious I remember. It followed the 1977 upheaval in which a non-Labor government for the first time became a plausible option. Behaving as if it were robbed of its rightful legacy, Labor aimed to correct the voters’ “error.” The end justified any and all means.

And so one evening, Yossi Sarid, who was Labor’s campaign spokesman, charged that the Likud had planted a suitcase packed with explosives outside Labor’s campaign headquarters at Tel Aviv’s Deborah Hotel. Automatically I phoned the police to inquire and was informed in no uncertain terms that an innocent tourist had inadvertently forgotten his bag at the entrance to a travel agency next door to the Deborah.

What did this have to do with a bomb? Nothing. What did this have to do with Labor? Nothing. What did this have to do with the Likud? Nothing.

Nevertheless, instead of praise for journalistic due diligence, I was subjected to the most vituperative chewing-out of my career. My bosses severely rebuked me for not trusting Sarid, for checking up and, most of all, for including the police version in my story. I was accused of no less than deliberate sabotage and asked in exasperation why I just won’t write what I’m told. In other words, I was taken to task for not toeing the party line.

This 30-year-old reminiscence remains pertinent. Continue reading