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In a startling report of political intrigue, it's now asserted that a "loose coalition" of influential Americans - in and out of Congress - is working with Israeli politicians to "destroy" the Middle East peace process.

Almost as startling as the report of Americans and Israelis conspiring against U.S. policy and the struggle for an Israel-Arab peace is a vast American media silence that has followed.Nowhere, not even in The New York Times, where the authoritative disclosure of the "loose coalition" was first made, has there been follow-up reporting or comment on the far-reaching and frightening consequences of an American-based campaign to kill the Middle East peace initiative.

It's as if American pack journalism, which swarms to warmed-over political news and outrageous celebrity conduct, shares disinterest in the report of an act of sabotage that, if successful, might send the Middle East toward a renewed cycle of wholesale slaughter.

There are not even - so far - any published or broadcast denials from principals vaguely identified as co-conspirators who, the respected New York Times reporter and columnist Thomas L. Friedman said, "are people who want to destroy" the fragile and threatened peace process.

In his column published April 5 on the op-ed page of The Times, Friedman said this: "There are a few American Jewish organizations and lawmakers meddling in the Arab-Israel negotiations . . ..

"A loose coalition of right-wing Jewish groups, conservative lawmakers and Israel's Likud party are currently spearheading a drive to push through Congress three initiatives that have a real potential to undermine the Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations."

The initiatives, Friedman wrote, include a plan to block any U.S. troop presence to safeguard peace between Syria and Israel, another plan to force a breakoff of U.S. contacts and future aid to the PLO and its leader, Yasser Arafat, and demands on the State Department to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem under a threat that Congress will legislate such a move.

The initiatives, which Friedman suggested are "encouraged by a team of Likud officials who have set up their own lobbying campaign in Washington," threaten fragile negotiations and agreements, even bipartisan American policy opposed to Israeli conquest and occupation dating back to the 1967 Six Day War.

Friedman, a former New York Times Middle East correspondent and Pulitizer Prize-winning reporter, concluded his disclosure of the work of the "loose coalition" with an ominous warning.

"Let's not kid ourselves," Friedman wrote of the coalition's intent, "each one of these issues is being rammed through Congress today not by people who want to protect the peace process, but by people who want to destroy it."

Friedman ended with rare published criticism for both "mainstream American Jewish groups" who've offered only "tepid support" for the peace process and for the "outright hostility" to the peace initiatives from "orthodox and fringe Jewish groupings."

Far more than an insider commentary on divided opinion concerning the Middle East peace negotiations and frictions among American Jews, the Friedman column - still not publicly disputed - makes clear allegations of tampering with American policy.

The reported tampering is made all the more serious, not just because "orthodox and fringe Jewish groupings" are at work with a plan to "destroy" the peace process but because those groups - and members of Congress - are said to be conspiring with foreigners hostile to American interests.

The silence - again so far - of the American media is a turn away from the fearless and fair reporting American journalism pretends.

It's an accusation, that members of Congress and American Jews are at work with Israeli operatives to "destroy" a peace initiative pursued for many years and financed by billions of dollars paid by American taxpayers.

It's a media failure and an insult to Americans who've not been informed of any of that.