Camp David Accords marked a new start tempered by old fears
(Editor’s Note: Retro News is a column that will appear every week as part of the celebration of the Chronicle’s 50th anniversary.)
The banner headline of the Sept 21, 1978, Jewish Chronicle — or rather the punctuation of that headline — said it all:
That exclamation point and question mark, printed side-by-side, encapsulated all the hope and skepticism that marked the historic announcement of the Camp David Accords by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and U.S. President Jimmy Carter just days earlier on Sept. 17.
The announcement followed 13 days of cloistered negotiations at the secluded presidential retreat of Camp David, Md.
In his front-page news analysis that week, Albert W. Bloom, executive editor of the Chronicle, wrote that the accords marked the beginning of two “socio-political security constellations” — one of peace, the other of troublemakers.
Bloom reported that some journalists were none too impressed by the accords, which would lead to the signing of the first formal peace treaty between Israel and an Arab state months later on March 26, 1979. He said one reporter referred to the announcement as a “media event.”
In an unusual juxtaposition, the only other story on page 1 that week was a piece about an upcoming Holocaust symposium — a subtle reminder of how much the Israel stood to gain — and lose — by this peace process.
Inside, the Chronicle printed on page 2 the complete text of the statements the three leaders made at the White House following the Camp David summit. On page 4, it had a staff interview with Tamar Avidar-Eldar, the women’s affairs attaché at the Israeli Embassy who attended the White House announcement. She was in Pittsburgh that week for a Pioneer Women conference.
Even in 1978, Iran was very much in the news. The Chronicle carried a half-page editorial this week, titled “Iran — on the oiled horns of dilemma,” expressing concern that country’s 80,000-strong Jewish community amid the political turmoil theater.
“There is reason for concern and an alert to the plight of the Iranians, both non-Jewish as well as Jewish,” according to the editorial. “Meanwhile, conflicting reports are emanating from Iran on how the internal strife of that oil-vital country affects the Jewish community there.”
It wouldn’t be long before the Shah of Iran would be overthrown, replaced by the Islamic republic that today threatens Israel and the world with its nuclear program.
Also this week, Jody Dickman Gluck of Pittsburgh was named Best of Show winner of the Israel Photo Contest, which was sponsored by the 30th Anniversary Committee of the United Jewish Federation.
Shaare Torah announced it would sponsor a discussion titled, “Test Tube Baby — the Jewish Challenge,” at its 33rd annual Pre-Selichos Symposium. Among the speakers would be Dr. Cyril Wecht, then-Allegheny County Coroner; Dr. Wilfred Finegold, a retired professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Pittsburgh; and Rabbi Bernard A. Poupko of Shaare Torah, an executive member of the Rabbinical Council of America. The Chronicle’s Bloom would serve as moderator of the event, and Stanley Greenfield, an attorney, professor of law at Duquesne University and president of Shaare Torah, would deliver the opening remarks.
— Compiled by Lee Chottiner
(For a more comprehensive look at the Sept. 21, 1978, Chronicle, visit the jewishchronicle.net and click on “archives” at the top of the page. Back issues of the Chronicle are archived by the Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project.)