Commentary Magazine


“Unsung Hero”

To the Editor:

In the July 1987 issue of COMMENTARY, at page 62, in the context of a book review, Joshua Muravchik refers to the undersigned as the “self-proclaimed ‘unsung hero’ of the Camp David accords.”

Said reference is snide, vitriolic, erroneous, and untrue! Had Mr. Muravchik checked the facts, he would have seen that the words “unsung hero” emanated from the White House on two occasions. In one instance, Robert J. Lipshutz, Counsel to President Jimmy Carter, speaking in his behalf, told an audience that “Leon Charney is one of the unsung heroes of the Peace Treaty. Very few people have played as significant a role.”

This statement was confirmed in an interview by Mark Segal of the Jerusalem Post with President Carter at LaGuardia Airport in May 1983, and I quote:

Q. [by Segal] While Counsel to the President, Bob Lipshutz chose a public occasion to pay tribute on your behalf to Leon Charney as “one of the unsung heroes of the peace process.” Perhaps you could recall the circumstances warranting that description?

A. [by President Carter] I don’t want to exaggerate what Bob Lipshutz has said, but there were so very few people who played such a significant role and were unsung. [He had a slightly sardonic twist of the mouth.] I agree wholly with Bob.

Thus, it is self-evident that the concept of the “unsung hero” of Camp David emanated directly from the White House and President Carter and can in no way be assumed to be a self-proclamation by the undersigned.

The damage inflicted upon the undersigned due to the lack of due diligence and negligence of Mr. Muravchik is untold and, at this point, immeasurable. The least one can expect from such “amateurish” reporting is an immediate apology. It is truly a sad commentary on the magazine COMMENTARY to have approved such copy without proper research.

Leon H. Charney
New York City

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Joshua Muravchik writes:

I accept Leon H. Charney’s assertion that the phrase “unsung hero” originated with Robert Lipshutz, not himself. But Mr. Charney published a book publicizing this encomium and the role he believes it aptly describes. I regret having used the term “self-proclaimed”; I should have said “self-advertised.”

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