Pentagon Lists Taboo Subjects For Troops In Saudi Arabia With AM-Gulf Rdp, BjtRUTH SINAI , Associated Press
Oct. 26, 1990 5:57 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Pentagon is advising U.S. troops to avoid discussions about the ''Jewish lobby'' with their Saudi hosts. Also on a list of taboo subjects are sensual commercials for perfume and lingerie.
''The following items and topics should be avoided or handled carefully,'' according to a pamphlet written by the U.S. Central Command for distribution to some of the estimated 200,000 troops in and around Saudi Arabia.
At the top of the list of 15 ''sensitive'' items is ''articles and stories showing U.S.-Israeli ties and friendship.'' Other strictures include discussion of ''anti-Arab demonstrations or sentiments in the United States'' and of ''U.S. involvement in supporting Israel and Israel's current presence in Lebanon.''
The Pentagon advises troops to carry the booklet at all times.
Also to be avoided, it suggests, is discussing or showing ''sensual advertisements for perfume, blue jeans, women's lingerie, gambling, alcohol, etc.; ads for pork or shellfish (which are forbidden by Islam).''
Other out-of-bounds topics include:
-''Discussing the 'Jewish lobby' and U.S. intelligence given to Israel.''
-''Referring to the Arab blacklisting of U.S. companies that do business with Israel or the Arab boycotting of companies that have strong Zionist representation in executive positions.''
The list, first published in the November issue of Harper's Magazine, has drawn protests from Jewish groups.
Writing to Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, the World Jewish Congress said it wishes to convey ''our sense of distress at what appears to be a capitulation to bigotry and a surrender of our democratic values...''
The letter, from WJC Vice President Kalman Sultanik, urges that the material be withdrawn from circulation.
The American Jewish Committee, expressing to Cheney its ''deep sense of hurt and anger,'' says U.S. troops should not be asked to ''submerge entirely those values of tolerance, pluralism, and open-mindedness that have made the U.S. a unique democratic society.''
The Pentagon and State Department, mindful of the vast cultural and religious differences between Saudis and Americans, have issued a number of booklets setting out ''do's and don'ts'' since the troops began arriving in the Persian Gulf in August.
Most of the pamphlets include a brief history of Saudi Arabia and its monarchy, and explanations of the strict Moslem code which governs Saudis' behavior. Alcohol is out for Moslems and for foreign troops; so is socializing with Saudi women.
Other guidelines for Americans found in the pamphlets are: women should cover their legs and arms when out in public; women and men should not show affection in public; Americans should not show the soles of their feet to a Saudi (by sitting with their legs propped on a table, for example) because the gesture is considered an insult; Americans shouldn't ask Saudi men about their wives; Americans shouldn't offer their rations to Saudis because they might contain pork, which is forbidden by Islam.
But the Central Command pamphlet goes beyond the social and cultural mores to include political topics.
In forging the international anti-Iraq coalition of Western and Arab nations, the United States has been careful to avoid emphasis on its strategic and historic relationship with Israel, the largest recipient of American foreign aid.
Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Arab world, who have fought five wars with Israel since it gained independence in 1948, have traditionally accused the United States of being biased toward the Jewish state.
The Central Command pamphlet was originally written several years ago for American troops taking part in the biannual ''Bright Star'' maneuvers with Egypt, said Pentagon officials.
That version contained several additional guidelines which have been removed from the booklets distributed for Operation ''Desert Shield,'' said the officials. The omitted material includes discussing ''films or newsclips featuring pro-Zionist actors and actresses (e.g. Barbara Streisand, Liz Taylor).''
But Pentagon spokesman Lt. Commander Ken Satterfield said that material was not included in the new booklet.