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To the editor:

Your lead editorial, ``Unbanning a Book' (Sept. 15), contains some disturbing assumptions regarding the provocative contents of a book recently released from a New York State Supreme Court injunction by a state appellate court.The publication of this book, By Way of Deception: A Devastating Insider's Portrait of the Mossad, was fought by the Israeli government on grounds it might jeopardize security and the lives of intelligence agents. You dismiss such concerns as typical of governmental reactions to such publications, and probably 'self-serving and specious.' Well, totally aside from the issue of prior restraint, this is a blanket judgment which at the very least is premature and uninformed for you to make.

You say the author, Victor Ostrovsky, ``spills bad beans about the Mossad,' without first determining by your own reading and evaluation of the entire book or assessing others' reading whether this is the ``spilling' or the ``manufacture' of unfavorable and damaging information about the world's most highly rated intelligence group.

You take an example from the book (or the author's promo or information emanating from the court case) that Israel ``had prior knowledge of the 1983 bombing of U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon in which 241 servicemen were killed. The Mossad withheld the information, (the author) says, because Israel hoped the bombing would taint U.S.-Arab relations.'

Now, amidst more pressing Middle East concerns, this charge - if it were verified - could have very serious implications for U.S.-Israeli relations. In any case, it would require careful and thorough documentation to have any integrity.

If this documentation is provided in the book, you should have mentioned that fact. If such was not provided in the book, all the more reason to make that clear. If, as is more likely the case, since the book is not yet available, you simply didn't know, then it would seem most wise to have allowed that proviso in your use of this example of ``bad beans.'

In sum, you clearly lend too much credence too early to an as yet unknown author and his as yet unfounded charges.

May I ask, why? Who is Victor Ostrovsky? Nowhere in your treatment have you even left the door cracked to the possibility of disinformation. Is this omission simply carelessness on your part? Jack Stone Greensboro


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