Sharon Sueing Time Magazine In Israeli Court With PM-Sharon-Time
Jan. 25, 1985
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) _ A lawyer for Ariel Sharon, who lost the final stage of his libel suit against Time magazine in New York, said today he was pressing ahead with a second suit in an Israeli court against the magazine's European subsidiary.
The story of Sharon's New York trial received much attention in Israel's media. The former defense minister's political allies said he won a moral victory by proving his contention that part of Time's story was false, while his opponents said he still bore responsibility for the ill effects of Israel's invasion of Lebanon.
Dov Weisglass, Sharon's attorney, said in a telephone interview that ''so far there are no changes'' in Sharon's plans to fight Time in Tel Aviv district court.Weisglass said he spoke to Sharon on Thursday after the verdict.
Weisglass said he filed suit against Time's European publishing subsidiary, which distributes the magazine in Israel, in March 1983. He said he expected it to come to trial within about six months.
Sharon sued Time in New York for $50 million for publishing an article in its Feb. 21, 1983, edition alleging that a secret appendix of an Israeli judicial commission of inquiry said Sharon ''reportedly discussed with the Gemayels the need for the Phalangists to take revenge'' for the murder of Lebanese president-elect Bashir Gemayel.
Sharon claimed the article implied he encouraged the subsequent murder by Lebanese Christian Phalangist militiamen of hundreds of Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Chatilla camps in Beirut.
The defamation case was being brought on the same grounds as the one in New York, Weisglass said, that ''Appendix B (of the Kahan Commission report into the Sabra and Chatilla massacres) does not include any details of that kind, and secondly that he never discussed the need for revenge, neither with the Gemayels nor with the Phalangists, at any time.''
He said Sharon had demanded the equivalent of $250,000 in damages, but stressed that ''like the case in New York, the law suit was never filed to make money.''
He said the sum claimed was ''a very large sum in terms of libel cases in Israel.''
But Weisglass said Sharon would not have to prove to the Israeli court that Time was motivated by malice, the count on which his case failed in New York.
Weisglass said Israeli law also differed from American, in that the burden of proving truthfullness was normally on the defendant rather than the plaintiff.
He also stressed that Time could not use the defense that Sharon is a public figure, because Israeli law only allowed this defense if the article expressed an opinion and ''the opinion ... relates directly to the behavior of that person in his capacity as an official.''
Leftist parliament member Yossi Sarid said the New York verdict did not clear Sharon from guilt for having plunged Israel into the ''terrible'' Lebanon war.
''You have been victorious but you have not been vindicated,'' wrote columnist Hirsh Goodman in the Jerusalem Post. ''You have won the battle but you have not justified a war.''
A cartoon in the Labor Party-allied Davar newspaper showed Sharon clothed only in a gold medal, with both hands stretched out in victory signs.
Israeli leaders allied with Sharon's Likud Party called the outcome of the New York trial a ''moral victory'' and a ''personal success'' for Sharon.
Deputy Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir told The Associated Press he believed Sharon ''achieved the main thing by proving that he was defamed, that the things that were published were a lie. He succeeded in uncovering the libel. This is a personal success and not only a personal success.''
Former Prime Minister Menachem Begin called the case a ''moral victory'' for Sharon. ''I don't think there is any reason to be disappointed,'' Begin said in a telephone interview from his Jerusalem home. Begin was prime minister at the time of the war and massacre.