Thursday, August 23, 2007

God's Jewish Warriors -- CNN's Abomination


Other than the joy of seeing my friend David at his son’s bar mitzvah, and hearing his very beautiful words about the land of Israel, the entire special has been, as expected, a horrible experience to watch.

Last night, I sat through about an hour of the drivel about how nice and moral those “Palestinian Brotherhood” folks are, and the intifada was completely glossed over so that CNN could talk about the exciting and beautiful tradition of the head-scarf (which, by the way, was never a tradition until about 15 years ago).

She also makes liberal use of the “occupied west bank” whenever she discusses Yesha. Over and over and over and over and over again she uses “occupied west bank.” I wanted to hurl.


CNN's "God's Warriors," hosted by Christiane Amanpour, is a three-part series intended to examine the growing role of religious fundamentalism in today's world. Unfortunately, the first program in the series, "God's Jewish Warriors," is one of the most grossly distorted programs to appear on mainstream American television in many years. It is false in its basic premise, established in the opening scene in which Jewish (and Christian) religious fervency is equated with that of Muslims heard endorsing "martyrdom," or suicide-killing. There is, of course, no counterpart among Jews and Christians to the violent jihadist Muslim campaigns underway across the globe, either in numbers of perpetrators engaged or in the magnitude of death and destruction wrought.

While in reality Jewish "terrorism" is virtually non-existent, the program magnifies at length the few instances of violence or attempted violence by religiously-motivated Jewish individuals - including having to go all the way back to 1980, for example, to explore a bombing campaign by a small group of Israeli Jews atwo West Bank Arab mayors. By dredging up such an old incident Amanpour unintentionally undermines her own thesis.

Settlements are likewise a key focus of the program, their residents and adherents being deemed "God's warriors" – along with those Americans, Jewish and Christian alike, who support them. American presidents and Members of Congress are said to be held hostage to the so-called "Israel Lobby," ostensibly dark forces consisting of AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups who supposedly enable the nefarious expansion of West Bank communities.

Disproportionate reliance on partisan voices, some extreme figures, skews the message dramatically. Jimmy Carter and John Mearsheimer, chief proponents of the discredited canards about Jews subverting American national interests to those of Israel, are repeatedly and respectfully interviewed. Carter, for example, claims that no American politician could survive politically while calling for settlement-related aid cuts to Israel: "There's no way that a member of Congress would ever vote for that and hope to be re-elected."

That would be news to politicians like Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd, who has long been a critic of aid to Israel and opposed loan guarantees to Israel in 1992. As well, contrary to Amanpour and Carter, Representatives James Trafficante, Dana Rohrabacher, Nick Smith, Fortney Pete Stark, Neil Abercrombie, David E. Bonior, John Conyers Jr, John D. Dingell, Earl F. Hilliard, Jesse L. Jackson Jr., Barbara Lee, Jim McDermott, George Miller, Jim Moran, David R. Obey, Ron Paul and Nick J. Rahall II, have voted against aid to Israel and/or opposed other resolutions favoring Israel.

Amanpour ignores all this, and turns instead to former Senator Charles Percy, who joins in denouncing Jewish political influence. Only Morris Amitay is presented as balance on this critical issue.

Whether wittingly or not, Amanpour's program, with its reliance on pejorative labeling, generalities, testimonials, and a stacked lineup of guests, is a perfect illustration of classical propaganda techniques. Unfortunately propaganda is the opposite of journalism, the profession Amanpour is supposed to practice.

The program was misleading and inaccurate in many other ways as well:

Amanpour says: "But it is also Palestinian land. The West Bank - it's west of the Jordan River - was designated by the United Nations to be the largest part of an Arab state."

This is highly deceptive. The United Nations 1947 Partition Plan proposed dividing all the land west of the Jordan into a Jewish and an Arab state; the Arabs rejected the plan, choosing instead to launch a war to eliminate Israel. The land did not become "Palestinian land" via this UN Plan. Likewise, UN Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the Six Day War, underscored that territorial adjustments related to the West Bank were to be expected.

• Amanpour suggests settlements are the cause of Arab anger: "the Jewish settlements have inflamed much of the Arab world," yet the Arab world was just as anti-Israel (actually more so) before the settlements were built.

• She presents at length the views of Theodor Meron asserting the illegality of settlements as the definitive word, but makes no mention of more senior Israeli experts such as former Supreme Court Chief Meir Shamgar, who disagreed with Meron. Nor does Amanpour mention such foreign experts such as Professors Julius Stone and Eugene Rostow who also argued for the legality of settlements. See for example From "Occupied Territories" to "Disputed Territories" by Dore Gold.

• She grossly misleads about America's position on settlements in the following sequence:

WILLIAM SCRANTON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: My government believes that international law sets the appropriate standards.

AMANPOUR: From the earliest days of the settler movement, even the United States, Israel's closest ally, blasted Israel's settlement policy.

SCRANTON: Substantial resettlement of the Israeli civilian population in occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, is illegal.

AMANPOUR: Ever since American presidents both Democrat and Republican have spoken from virtually the same script. They consistently oppose settlement growth.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: The United States will not support the use of any additional land for the purpose of settlements.

In fact, Reagan said: "As to the West Bank, I believe the settlements there -- I disagreed when the previous Administration referred to them as illegal, they're not illegal" (NYTimes, Feb. 3, 1981). Others did not deem settlements "illegal."

• Amanpour continuously discounts the context of the Arab world. She says with regard to the post Six-Day War period: "But the Israeli government was divided - trade the captured land for peace or keep it and build Jewish settlements." Unmentioned is the Arab refusal to "trade" anything for peace as embodied in the three "no's" delivered at a summit in Khartoum declaring there would be no negotiation, no recognition and no peace with Israel.

Jerusalem/Temple Mount, and The Holy Places
• Amanpour says: "It was from here, according to Muslim scripture, that the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven around the year 630. But Hebrew scripture puts the ancient Jewish Temple in the same location, destroyed by the Romans in the year 70. For the next 1,900 years, even the last remnant of the temple known as the Wailing Wall, or the Western Wall, was lost to the Jews."

a) Muslim scripture refers to Mohammed ascending to heaven from the "farthest mosque," which could not have been on the Temple Mount, since the mosque there wasn't built until well after the death of Mohammed.
b) The Western Wall isn't a remnant of the Temple, it is merely a retaining wall built to extend and flatten the Temple Mount. And there are indeed actual remains of the First and Second Temples on the Temple Mount.
c) Although Amanpour notes the holiness of the Temple Mount to Jews and Muslims, and some Jews in clips say that it is the holiest site for Jews, she never points this out herself, nor does she mention that Hebron is Judaism's second holiest city with its second holiest shrine.
d) Amanpour interviews the Muslim Grand Mufti of Jerusalem to give a Muslim perspective on the Al Aqsa Mosque, but no Jewish Rabbinical figure is presented to discuss the paramount religious importance of the Temple Mount to Jews.

Carter and Mearsheimer
Amanpour states: " Most recently, former President Carter was criticized for criticizing Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. In his book, "Palestine: Peace, not Apartheid."
Carter was, of course, "criticized" for purveying multiple false statements about Israel and the Palestinians. See, for example, A Comprehensive Collection of Jimmy Carter's Errors.

Professor John Mearsheimer is also invited on to explain to viewers the allegedly pernicious effects of the "Jewish Lobby," with no mention by Amanpour of the extremely serious flaws that critics have identified in Mearsheimer's work.

Muslim "Anger"
Interviewed by Amanpour, Gershom Gorenberg states: "You can't understand the anger of radical Islam unless you understand the conflict between you know, the Jews and the Palestinians." The false implication is that such "anger" is primarily rooted in the Israeli-Palestinian issue, disregarding the far greater forces driving radical Islam, including the titanic struggle between Shiites and Sunnis triggered in large measure by the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, the Khomenist revolution and the expansion of Saudi Wahabism.

As even the Ayatollah Khomeini put it, the United States was the "Great Satan," while Israel was only the "Small Satan."

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