What Rosenthal didn't say

September 26, 1990

In a column today headlined "What Mandela said," New York Times columnist A.M. Rosenthal raises what appears to be a nagging, obsessive grudge against South Africa's Nelson Mandela. Rosenthal takes Mandela to task for refusing to condemn Arab states which sell oil to South Africa.

But take note that in his tirade against Mandela, Rosenthal devotes exactly nine words, in the most oblique and cautious manner, to the fact that Israel sells not oil but military weapons to South Africa. He does not even mention that most experts in the area believe that Israel and South Africa have cooperated in developing nuclear weapons.

Now, we ask with all due respect: Which is the greater offense to "morality" -- Rosenthal's term -- selling oil to South Africa, or selling arms and nuclear capability?

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