Beirut Jane distorts her history

Jane Fonda, AKA Hanoi Jane, AKA Beirut Jane is back in the news. She has chosen a rather uncontroversial moment to oppose the Iraq war, doing a bus tour with Iraq veterans’ families. According to the BBC,

The star was dubbed Hanoi Jane in the 70s for her stance on the Vietnam War.

She caused an outcry when she was photographed sitting on an anti-aircraft gun in north Vietnam in 1972, while touring the country to call for an end to the war.

Although she has since called it the “largest lapse of judgment that I can even imagine”, some people have never forgiven her. (BBC, July 26))

She also said:

“I have not taken a stand on any war since Vietnam,” she told some 600 people who turned up to see her speak at the bookshop in Santa Fe. “I carry a lot of baggage from that.

Whoa — she’s never taken another stand on a war? Then what was she doing as a guest of the Israeli Defense Forces with Tom Hayden when they were shelling Beirut in 1982? Maybe she does not consider it a large lapse of judgment. According to the blog, there is no mention of her adventures in Beirut in her new bio, “My Life So Far.” Redstateson also recounts:

“I’ve always thought that Fonda made up for her “lapse of sanity” when she, along with then-hub Tom Hayden, visited Israel in 1982 to show their support for the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and Menachem Begin’s Likud party. Fonda and Hayden watched the shelling of Beirut from Israeli positions, applauding while cluster bombs ripped through apartments and hospitals, and Israeli helicopter gunships strafed those trying to escape. Here, Fonda was not shy about appearing with weapons — hell, she reveled in it. And unlike the anti-aircraft gun in North Vietnam, which was not being used at the time of her visit, Israeli weapons were in full use, chopping up and killing over 17 thousand Lebanese and Palestinians.

In debates with rightwingers obsessed with Fonda’s “treason,” I’ve often mentioned her later embrace of mass murder in Lebanon. In every case, my opponents expressed ignorance of this fact (which I found amazing), and they usually winced when I re-branded Fonda as Beirut Jane.”

The following article from AP on July 7, 1982 describes the pair’s trip:

Actress Jane Fonda and her candidate-husband Tom Hayden returned from Lebanon on Wednesday, and he said the U.S. Marines should help evacuate the Palestinian Liberation Organization to avoid a “bloodbath in Beirut.”

“What we have to do is avert through public opinion a bloodbath in Beirut and arrange somehow for an evacuation of the PLO, and I think that requires people who have been peace advocates to say that, for a two-week period, the use of Marines exclusively for the purpose of evacuation is justified,” said Hayden.

“It’s not another Vietnam, it’s not another El Salvador,” added the 42-year-old Democrat, whose anti-war credentials were established in the 1960s. “If you want to avert a bloodbath, the United States may have to play that role.”

Hayden, who is running for the California Assembly in a heavily Jewish district, said earlier in New York that President Reagan’s proposal to send the Marines into Lebanon as part of a PLO withdrawal would be “a humane and greatly valued act.” Hayden said he opposed any long-term U.S. presence in Lebanon.

PLO leader Yasser Arafat has rejected United States aid in any evacuation, but has left open the possiblility of U.S. participation in an international peacekeeping force in Lebanon. The Israelis invaded Lebanon on June 6, and have besieged west Beirut, the PLO headquarters.

White House officials suggest any American troops would not be committed for longer than 30 days.

In Los Angeles, Hayden said the Israeli invasion was “inevitable” but he would reserve judgment on the war effort.

“The hawks were right in their assumption that it could be done, that the PLO could be militarily defeated,” he said. “What remains to be seen is whether any new possibility for permanent peace emerges from the war. That’s the ultimate test of whether the war will have been justified.”

Miss Fonda was silent during most of the airport news conference, nodding agreement with Hayden.

She did say the visit to Israel and Lebanon was “a very good and important opportunity for me personally to try to understand the situation better. I learned a lot…

“It helped me to be there and to see this interesting _ and maybe unique to Israel _ situation where you have a tremendous diversity of opinion among civilians and also the Israeli defense force, and yet a unanimity when it comes to the necessity to defend, to not pull back right now and to do everything that’s possible,” she said. “I think that’s why they were happy that we went there.”

Hayden said he spoke with Lebanese Christians in Sidon, Tyre and east Beirut. He did not meet any Palestinians during the trip, which began Friday.

In November, he faces Republican businessman Bill Hawkins in the 44th Assembly District.

Also, NYT on July 5 1982:

Today Jane Fonda and her husband, Tom Hayden, briefly visited the Israeli position at St. Anthony’s School and watched the shelling. The movie star and her husband have been visiting Israeli soldiers and Lebanese wounded in the invasion. Israeli soldiers crowded around Miss Fonda to be photographed with her, but she looked distant and uncomfortable.

Mr. Swersky, the Israeli command spokesman, gave Miss Fonda and her husband a private briefing on the military situation. Mr. Hayden, who was a leader of the opposition to the Vietnam War, has said that the Israeli invasion is justified because the P.L.O. refused to recognize Israel.

While she has not publicly acknowledged her earlier cheerleading for Israeli militarism — although she did tell Ha’aretz “once I went to talk with the soldiers in Lebanon,” she did visit a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank in 2002, where she offered this trenchant observation: “This is the focal point of so many conflicts. Both sides aren’t hearing each other’s narratives, and maybe that’s our role as artists.” (AP, Dec 10, 2002)

Hayden and Fonda refused to meet with anti-war Israelis during the trip. These activists, who were calling for the removal of Israeli forces from Lebanon, also argued at the time that the US brokered withdrawal of PLO fighters from the Palestinian neighborhoods and refugee camps would actually lead to a bloodbath in Beirut, which occurred in mid-September of 1982 in Shatila camp, with Israeli complicity.

See our last report on Lebanon.

  1. I hate the word “narrative”
    Artist? I thought she was a movie star. That last has-been vehicle she was in didn’t seem to be exactly “art”.

    Kinda makes one nostalgic for Vanessa Redgrave. She stayed intransigent to the end, didn’t she? This is what BBC recalled when she won a Tony two years ago:

    She has mixed mainstream roles with independent and personal productions – such as 1977’s The Palestinian, in which she was controversially seen dancing with a Kalashnikov rifle.

    A political speech at the following year’s Oscars, in which she said protestors who campaigned against her film were “Zionist hoodlums”, made many in the movie industry and in living rooms feel she had gone too far.

    1. Jane Fonda’s “new anti-war declaration.”
      First of all, what took her so long to declare her “opposition” to the U.S. invasion of Iraq? She says nothing about the relationship between the U.S. and Israel in the maintenance of a greater Middle East policy. That “policy” will eventually become a nightmare for both the U.S. and Israel, especially in light of the growth of active opposition in the Arab world. In a recent poll, 73% declared her to be a “traitor” and 55% said they don’t care what she says about anything of a foriegn policy nature. She needs to keep her mouth closed, and demonstrate her “committment” through action.

    2. Jane Fonda/Vanessa Redgrave
      Vanessa is not at “the end.” She remains a committed revolutionary and a marvelous actress. Long may she continue.

      1. Not only that…
        She recently starred in the title role in a production of Euripides’ Hecuba at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I’m sorry to have misled, and I do wish the Village Voice had given her a better review. At least, in contrast to the much-hyped Fonda, she really is doing legitimate art.