Controversy over the trial of Adolf Eichmann stills this week, and the world waits to see the operations of Israeli justice. It was perhaps right and certainly inevitable that the Jews should try this man once they had captured him. And it was predictable that the harpies of the world press should turn the affair into a ghoulish circus. That was not Israel's fault. It was in the nature of Eichmann's crimes that men could sensationalize them simply by documenting them. But in publicizing the trial, the Israeli government has done nothing to prevent sensationalism.
On the contrary. Four TV cameras will play over the courtroom, making videotapes of all the proceedings. The television concession has been given to a New York company. Special seats are reserved for government guests; the world press has 474 seats and a battery of mechanical aids. The national tourist corporation even has places for the tourists who will come to watch.
In trying Eichmann, Israel has a responsibility to create an atmosphere in which some degree of dispassionate thinking is possible. Everyone hates Eichmann and the era he represents. No one understands him or the sources of his inhumanity. Yet these publicity arrangements indicate that Israel is only interested in staging a spectacle of vengeance under the klieg lights. If Israel continues to play into the hands of the sensation mongers, the critics of the Eichmann trial will have been proven right: with all the issues blurred, executing Eichmann will mean just another body added to the heap.