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The Paragraph That Sparked $50 Million Libel Suit

January 24, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ Here is the text of the paragraph that appeared in Time magazine’s Feb. 21, 1983 cover story ″The Verdict Is Guilty,″ that sparked former Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon’s $50 million libel suit against Time Inc:

″One section of the report, known as Appendix B, was not published at all, mainly for security reasons. That section contains the names of several intelligence agents referred to elsewhere in the report. TIME has learned that it also contains further details about Sharon’s visit to the Gemayel family on the day after Bashir Gemayel’s assassination. Sharon reportedly told the Gemayels that the Israeli army would be moving into West Beirut and that he expected the Christian forces to go into the Palestinian refugee camps. Sharon also reportedly discussed with the Gemayels the need for the Phalangists to take revenge for the assassination of Bashir, but details of the conversation are not known.″

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Here is the text of Time correspondent David Halevy’s Dec. 6, 1982 internal memo which formed the basis for the preceding paragraph:

(Halevy-Jerusalem) - The most crucial findings of the state inquiry commission investigating the Sabra and Shatila massacre might turn out to be the newly discovered notes which were taken during a conversation between Israel’s Defense Minister Arik Sharon and leaders of the Gemayel clan. Sharon came to the Gemayels’ home village, Bikfaya, the morning after Bashir Gemayel was assassinated. He came actually to convey his and the Begin government’s condolences. When Sharon landed at Bikfaya he had with him only one senior Israeli intelligence officer, who went with Sharon to the meeting and took notes during the private session.

According to a highly reliable source who told us about that meeting, present were not only Pierre and Amin Gemayel but also Fadi Frem, the Phalange chief of staff who is married to Bashir’s sister. Sharon indicated in advance to the Gemayels that the Israeli Army was moving into West Beirut and that he expected them, the Force Lebanese, to go into all the Palestinian refugee camps. He also gave them the feeling after the Gemayels’ questioning, that he understood their need to take revenge for the assassination of Bashir and assured them that the Israeli army would neither hinder nor try to stop them.

These minutes will not be published at all, in any form whatsoever, as they indicate a direct involvement and advanced planning by the Gemayel family, including Lebanon’s president, Amin Gemayel.

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Here is the text of the correction that Time ran in its Jan. 21, 1985, issue:

In its Feb. 21, 1983, cover story, ″The Verdict Is Guilty,″ Time reported that Israel’s official commission of inquiry found that Ariel Sharon, then Defense Minister, and several other military officials shared an ″indirect″ responsibility for the massacre by Lebanese Phalangist soldiers of hundreds of civilians in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila that began two days after the assassination of Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayel. In one paragraph of its article, Time reported that a secret appendix to the commission’s published report - known as Appendix B - contained ″further details about Sharon’s visit to the Gemayel family on the day after Bashir Gemayel’s assassination.″

Almost two years after Minister Sharon began litigation against Time over this paragraph, the Israeli government has permitted an Israeli attorney representing Time to examine this secret appendix. Based upon this examination last week, Time now issues a correction: Appendix B does not contain further details about Sharon’s visit to the Gemayel family. Time regrets that error.

Time stand by the substance of the paragraph in question: that ″Sharon also reportedly discussed with the Gemayels the need for the Phalangists to take revenge for the assassination of Bashir, but the details of the conversation are not known.″ Time did not say, and has never said, that Sharon intended that the Phalangists commit a massacre, or encouraged such a massacre.

The Israeli government continues to deny Time the right to inspect other specific testimony relevant to this case that is known to exist as part of the record of the commission inquiry.

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