Middle men

Disney's decision last week (see Disney caught in the Middle (East).) to strike potentially offending references in a temporary Epcot exhibit on Jerusalem turned back boycott threats from Arab nations. But reports for Middle East audiences were far more strongly worded than those in the United States that placed a happy face on the discussion between Disney and Arab foreign ministers last week in New York City over the display, funded in part by the Israeli government.

Some examples:

From The Hindu, Sept. 26: "As has been expected, the Arab plan to organize a boycott of Walt Disney Co. has ended as a self-inflicted fiasco. The U.S. entertainment giant has offered to make some concessions and there are some Arab spokesmen who argue that the boycott call has therefore become redundant. But the far stronger impression left at the end of the exercise is that of Arab disillusionment and bitterness at yet another failure to get their act together even in achieving a minor victory."

From the Mideast Mirror, Sept. 27: "Disney indicated that it had already secured removal from the presentation of all reference to Jerusalem as Israel's capital. They also secured some other script changes in the Israeli presentation. And finally, Disney agreed to issue a number of disclaimers that established that the company did not endorse any political claims in the Israeli exhibit.

"While some groups were not satisfied by this outcome, others noted that what was important was that the combined Arab American and Arab world reaction to the entire matter had succeeded in establishing the Israeli presentation as 'controversial,' a definition that has repeatedly been used in the U.S. press to describe the exhibit.

"Some American Jewish groups reacted to Disney's news with hysterical outrage. One group accused Disney of 'caving in to political expediancy and (Arab) economic blackmail, while misleading the public.' ... What was infuriatingly missed by these American Jewish groups was that the Israeli exhibit itself was an act of incitement that ran counter to the peace process. It was, of course, totally unjustified for Israel to introduce this most sensitive and deeply emotional issue into an entertainment exhibition."

From the Iraqi Satellite Channel, Baghdad, Sept. 27: "The Arab foreign ministers paid tribute to the government of the United Arab Emirates for raising the Walt Disney issue and including it in the Arab League agenda. They acquainted themselves with the messages sent by the Disney company senior officials to the Arab League, in which they regretted what happened and expressed the company's readiness to do its best to host a special pavilion for Palestine during the celebrations of the third millennium. ... The company officials responded by not referring to Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist entity at the company's fair, noting that the company is currently looking into the Palestinian desire to establish a pavilion at the fair."

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