Three Israeli citizens who lost members of their families in terrorist attacks by the Palestine Liberation Organization yesterday began a two-week tour of eastern U.S. cities with an anti-PLO protest outside the White House.
Yossi Hochman, Ankie Spitzer, and Preeti Sylvia Arroyo said they were here to counter what they called an inaccurate image of the PLO. "We feel we have to tell what the PLO is really all about," said Spitzer, whose husband, Andre, was one of 11 Israeli athletes slain by PLO gunmen at the Munich Olympics in September 1972. "It is being portrayed here in the media as an organization of freedom-fighters, and we feel this is not accurate . . . we think they are one big killing machine."
Hochman's wife and two children were killed when PLO terrorists commandeered a bus in which they were riding in March 1978. Hochman lost the lower limbs of both legs and now walks with artificial limbs.
Two of Arroyo's children were killed in January 1971 when a youth threw a grenade in the back seat of the family car in the Gaza Strip, she said.
The three are all members of the Israel-based Organization of Victims of PLO Terror.
Their trip here is the latest step in an ongoing struggle between supporters of Israel and the PLO to influence U.S. public opinion about the war in Lebanon through, among other things, fasts, news conferences, demonstrations and protests.
The three are paying their own expenses on this trip, they said. The Israeli Embassy here is helping them draw up their travel schedule and yesterday provided a place for them to meet the press as part of the "usual services and cooperation" provided Israeli citizens, information minister Harry Horowitz said.
Spitzer said the three want to emphasize the division they see between Palestinians and the PLO, saying she believes the PLO has "very little" support among them. "We are not political, but we do agree with the war in Lebanon," she said. "We feel the PLO has to be wiped out."
Asked how she felt seeing the casualties of Israeli bombings in Beirut, Arroyo blamed the PLO. "If the PLO is so concerned, they should come out and fight man-to-man . It's their fault, these casualties," she said.
"Our frustration is that all the emphasis is on what is going on now and people seem to forget what these people have done in the past and what initiated" the Israeli attack on Lebanon, Spitzer said.