JN from 1978
(William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History)

Looking through the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History to see how the JN covered two historic events.

The historic “Abraham Accords” were announced on Aug. 13, 2020. Israel signed “normalization agreements” with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Later, Sudan and Morocco joined the process. This event was significant and a source of reports and essays for media in the U.S., Israel and around the world. Two weeks ago, the JN featured an analysis of the Accords by Dana Regev and an essay from former managing editor of the Jewish Telegraph Agency, Howard Lovy.

The overwhelming majority of observers believe that the Accords constitute a positive step forward for Israel; however, the magnitude of the agreements is still unknown. Will the accords spur other Middle Eastern nations to normalize relations with Israel? Will the participants fulfill their commitments? How does this affect Israeli-Palestinian relations? Regardless of the many questions surrounding the implementation of the agreements, the Abraham Accords are indeed a historic moment in time.

JN from 1994
William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History

The Accords represent the first peace agreements for Israel with Arab nations since it signed pacts with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. This raised a question — how were those two historical events covered in the JN? So, I dove into The William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History for answers.

The blockbuster, pathbreaking agreement was the one between Israel and Egypt, the largest Arab nation in the Middle East and the nation that fought several major wars with Israel beginning in 1948. This agreement, the “Camp David Accords,” was reached during negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, led by President Jimmy Carter at the presidential retreat, Camp David, in 1978. The normalization pact was formally signed in 1979.

JN from 1979
William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History

The JN covered the Camp David Accords from start to finish. The front pages in September 1978 were dominated by headlines and photographs related to the negotiations: “Wishes for Continuing Talks Dominate Camp David Drama” (Sept. 1); “Jimmy Carter Hails Begin Before Camp David Summit” (Sept. 8); “Optimism Echoes at Camp David Summit”(Sept. 15); and finally, on Sept. 22, the front page had a photo of Carter, Begin and Sadat signing the agreements, and page 2 featured an in-depth report about the statements from each participant and an essay from editor Philip Slomovitz. The JN editorial for that week was “‘Shalom, ‘Salaam,’ ‘Peace,’ Reality.” The front page of the JN for Oct. 3, 1979, was devoted to the formal signing of the agreement.

It is interesting that, while certainly important, Israel’s peace agreement with Jordan did not receive extensive coverage. Of course, Jordan is a much smaller, decidedly less powerful nation, and Israel had already ongoing relations with Jordan’s King Hussein. The first mention of formal negotiations was a small item on page 35 of the June 24, 1994, issue of the JN: “Israel, Jordan Eye Agreement.” Peace negotiations only made one appearance on the front page of the July 7 issue of the JN. Otherwise, only a few small items on the agreements can be found.

Nevertheless, despite occasional issues, peace between Israel, Egypt and Jordan has held for many years. Let us hope that the Abraham Accords do as well, and that they are just the tip of the diplomatic iceberg toward normalization in the Middle East at-large.

JN from 1978
William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History

Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.

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