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Media Analyses





C-SPANís Israel/Jewish Problem Extends to Distinctive Treatment of Washington Journal Guests


C-SPAN's Israel/Jewish problem extends to treating Jewish guests on Washington Journal differently than, for example, Arab and Muslim guests when the topic concerns the Middle East – or other topics generating antisemitic accusations. Jews and Israel are the only ethnic/religious/national groups routinely smeared on Journal.

• Brad Sherman, Jewish U.S. Congressman (D-California) endures verbal abuse from mocking, sarcastic anti-Israel caller "Rick from Annapolis, Maryland" (July 23, 2015) during a "Congress debates the Iran nuclear deal"segment: "Congressman Sherman, I am so proud of your unwavering support for Israel. I am just a little perplexed when Mr. Netanyahu came to Congress and the entire Congress stood up and clapped and carried on like they should. And everyone, Democrat, Republican, were 100 percent for Mr. Netanyahu. Here's what – I just can't believe it – that the President of the United States, for the last 50 years, has been 100 percent for Israel ... [they] have now stuck an ice pick in the eye of Mr. Netanyahu." Guest politely refutes caller's misinformation: "It is not true that every member of Congress stood up and cheered everything the Prime Minister of Israel had to say. In fact there were about 50 of my [mainly Democrat] colleagues who announced in advance they were boycotting and not showing up. The idea that every president has been pro-Israel is historically not true. It was Eisenhower that forced the Israelis to withdraw from Sinai back in 1956. The last president, George W. Bush, had an absolutely terrible policy on Iran. For eight years he blocked every effort to pass new sanctions on Iran ... This idea that all presidents have done what is in Israel's interest, is simply not true."

• Ben Cardin, Jewish U.S. Senator (D-Maryland) endures racist verbal abuse from repeat, anti-Israel caller "Eric from Georgia" (July 15, 2015) during a "Iran Nuclear Agreement" segment. Host Brawner again indulged this caller as she had done in three previous broadcasts (March 28, 2015; June 11, 2014; Aug. 20, 2013). Caller: Mr. Cardin looks like a regular white guy, nice guy, whatever. But in actuality, he is a Jewish white guy and if the public was informed of that by C-SPAN, I think they would take his comments differently." Host replied, "Why does it matter ...?" Caller made clear that he was hurling the infamous double-loyalty accusation against Sen. Cardin: "It doesn't matter to me but – anybody that gets on TV – journalism 101 – you're supposed to tell your audience that you supposedly care about whether or not they may have a conflict of interest with you. Because this guy is Jewish, that means that he is concerned about Israel, which is only right ..." Senator Cardin shot back, "... I take great offense to that. Our loyalty is to America. Our concerns are to America. Our religion is our own personal business and should have nothing to do with an evaluation by anyone as to our objectivity on issues concerning America..."

• Marc Ginsberg (former ambassador to Morocco and Middle East advisor to Presidents Carter and Clinton) is mistreated based on his Jewish identity as host remains either disinterested or obstructive. Caller "Bill from Oklahoma"(Aug. 10, 2014) defames previous segment's guest Marc Ginsberg, whose topic was "U.S. policy in the Middle East," falsely claiming that Ginsberg could not be objective because he is a Jew. Host Scully preempts any challenge by guest Danielle Brian – to the anti-Israel assertion and anti-Jewish slur – by changing the subject. But one cannot imagine Scully failing to respond to a caller asserting that an African-American guest could not be objective about matters pertaining to blacks, or innuendo that a female guest had no credibility speaking on matters affecting women by actually taking up one of the caller's claims.

Caller "Pat from Pittsburgh" (Jan.1, 2014) defames the guest, "I have to tell you Mr. Ginsberg, your deceit is monumental. If you know anything about the state of Israel and the influence that the state of Israel has directly in our State Department. I know this for a fact because my friend is a consul general and came back to the United States and went to the U.S. State Department and was aghast at the number of offices for what has essentially turned into an electronic fortress on behalf of the Israeli government. The Israelis going up to American diplomats returning from the Mideast snatching documents from their hands as if they represent the United States. For you to sit there and say that Israel had no initial information about Benghazi is like saying, Israel didn't know about 9/11." Mr. Ginsberg responds with restraint, "You're off on a tirade here about Benghazi – and Israel has no connection to it. It's something that goes to what essentially is the type of conspiracy theories that those of us in foreign policy who care about American foreign policy first and foremost have long heard about from the critics of Israel who are always there to try to accuse them of controlling U.S. foreign policy..."

Host Pedro Echevarria fails to demand that caller provides at least minimal identifying information on his "consul general" friend who supposedly has first hand information about allegedly extraordinary influence wielded by Israel in the State Department. This claim is dubious at best since arguably the historical record indicates that the State Department often has been supportive of pro-Arab positions in opposition to those of various Israeli governments and their American backers.

Caller "Doug from Massachusetts" (Feb. 3, 2013) attacks Ginsberg, "I think it's about time that Marc Ginsberg hopped on an El Al flight and performed Aliyah [relocate to Israel]."

• Mona Charen, syndicated columnist, is mistreated based on her Jewish identity. Charen responds to a caller's (Ted from Michigan) (May 26, 2012) inflammatory, propagandistic accusations against Israel, "This caller obviously has a bee in his bonnet. You can tell this by the things that he chose..." Host Libby Casey (now with Al-Jazeera America) comments, "You write regularly about your Jewish faith and incorporate that into your columns…" to which Charen replies, "not that regularly." The likely effect of Casey's remark upon many viewers is to cast doubt on the validity of Charen's refutation. Charen has yet to re-appear as a guest on Washington Journal.

Serial anti-Israel caller (May 10, 2009) with more than a dozen aliases, "Rachel from California, " accuses Charen, "The thing that bothers me about you – you were sitting around a roundtable one day and you were telling me how much you loved Obama' s cabinet picks. What bothers me about that is that they were all picked by AIPAC – American Israeli Political Action Committee – I call it – even though they call it something else..." Charen responds with restraint, "... This notion that they were picked by AIPAC – C-SPAN gets these callers all the time. They are out there, obviously, in force. It's an ugly thing - this tendency to call up and demonize Jews and demonize Israel. It happens constantly..."

• Bill Kristol, Weekly Standard magazine founder and editor, is mistreated based on his Jewish identity. Caller "Tony from Maryland" (March 16, 2015) insults guest Kristol with the infamous antisemitic double-loyalty accusation, "...This is constant. Terrorism is a business. A lot of you guys benefit from that. You need to move to Israel. You pledge your allegiance to Israel more than to this country..." Kristol responds, "... I think you are unfortunate that you think people like me and others allegedly owe allegiance to Israel. Look, I thing we can deal with Iran without sending American troops over there. .." Host Paul Orgel characteristically is silent to the antisemitic attack on a guest.

Serial anti-Israel caller with more than a dozen aliases (see above), "Ida from California " (March 23, 2010),"...Everybody knows AIPAC controls our Congress. You can look on page 147 on 9/11 commission report that talks about why we were attacked on 9/11; it's because of our support for Israel and their oppression of the Palestinians." Host Scully: "Thank you, Ida." Kristol: "We were not attacked on 9/11 because of our support of Israel. The Congress is not controlled by AIPAC. We have never fought any wars for Israel..." Caller "Ida" was untruthful about the 9/11 commission report in citing "page 147 of the 9-11 Commission Report" in blaming Israel as the sole or primary motivation for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on America. The page 147 (chapter 5) reference to Israel describes a self-serving, post-capture explanation by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001: "By his own account, KSM's animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel." This sentence is one of the two references to Israel in Chapter 5 [pages 145 to 173 of the report]. The second reference (page 154) states that KSM had intended to land a hijacked plane at a U.S. airport, kill all the male passengers, and publicly excoriate "U.S. support for Israel, the Philippines, and repressive governments in the Arab world." There is no mention of Palestinian Arabs on page 147 or anywhere else in Chapter 5. Elsewhere in the report, there are only three references to Palestinian Arabs, none of which are in connection with alleged Israeli "oppression" or any such synonym.

• Eli Lake, Daily Beast (Web site) senior correspondent for national security, is mistreated based on his Jewish identity. Repeat blame-the-Jews caller "Patrick from Pennsylvania" (Sept. 15, 2014) defames both guest Eli Lake and the Jewish nation: "When I listen to your guest, it's almost astonishing when I look at the level of deceit, particularly when it comes to the facts of the words ‘existential threat.' The only existential threat to the United States of America is the Israeli government which represents a true existential threat which was an active participant in 9/11." Lake's reply, quite unusual for Washington Journal which almost invariably coddles such callers, "Make sure, sir, if you're watching this, to look out for the man in a white lab coat. He is only trying to help your recovery. I wish you luck with your mental illness." Lake has yet to re-appear as a guest on Washington Journal (his most recent previous appearances were on May 7, 2013 and Dec. 25, 2012).

• Arab guests and others arguing Palestinian vantage point – are treated gently as compared to Jewish guests arguing the Israeli position. Shibley Telhami (born to an Arab family in Israel), American professor who generally argues the Palestinian Arab vantage point, appears as guest with the topic "Syria and impact on U.S. foreign policy" on Sept. 17, 2013. Caller "Craig from California," propagandistically prompts Telhami, "Is it your opinion that the real directive comes from Israel for all of our controls and actions that take place in Syria and Palestine and so on?" Telhami finesses the answer, "The Israel question is always important for the U.S. in thinking about the Middle East. There's no question that American support for Israel is one of the cornerstones of the foreign policy. So, whatever you do, whether about Iran, whether about Syria, ask the question about the consequences for Israel and consult with Israel on matters that have importance... No doubt Israel is a big factor in all this, including Syria..."

Host John McArdle, chimes in antagonistically toward Israel, "What does the chemical weapons deal mean for Israel? Israel is one country suspected of having some stockpiles of its own. But they don't publish information on that. Does that put more of a spotlight on Israel?" Telhami obliges, "Yes, it does. As I said before, it does put a spotlight on them and particularly because they did not sign the treaty prohibiting chemical weapons. And that puts them in a really bad space." Viewers could have been informed (or reminded) that Israel has never threatened to annihilate other states as, for example, Iran has threatened to destroy Israel. Israel's purported chemical weapon role or purported nuclear weapons role, for deterrence in the volatile Middle East, is analogous to the role of America's nuclear weapons role in keeping the Cold War with the Soviet Union from turning hot. Instead of a reasoned response by guest and/or host refuting caller's bizarre charge claiming Israeli control of American Middle East policy, they pile on in discussing Israel's purported chemical weapons.

Telhami, as a frequent Washington Journal guest, has always been in synch with hostile-to-Israel hosts and anti-Israel callers. For example, on Nov. 22, 2012 during a discussion on an Israel-Hamas ceasefire, Telhami expounded at length on the Gaza conflict, including the now familiar narrative involving the aggrieved rulers of the Gaza strip, Hamas, firing volleys of rockets at Israel whose response is then disproportionate. But Telhami somehow fails to mention Hamas' fanatical Islamism which governs its violent actions toward Israel. Hamas's ultimate mission – "no matter how long it takes" – is to "fight the Jews and kill them" and to replace the Jewish state with an Islamic caliphate.

• The 8:07 AM caller on Nov. 22 from St. Petersburg, Florida argued briefly that United States should be committed to negotiating with Hamas, despite its designation as a terrorist entity, because it was elected by the Gazans to lead them. Telhami took a few minutes to support the caller's assertion including arguing for support of democratic ideals like the right of the people to elect its leaders.

• The 8:11 AM caller from Detroit, Michigan propagandized including the accusation that Israel is "destroying the people of Gaza." Telhami generally supported the caller's claims in another lengthy discourse.

• The 8:17 AM caller from Johnson, Tennessee argued that Israel and United States have to negotiate with Hamas. Telhami strongly supports (again) this proposition. Not surprisingly there is no mention here of Hamas' deadly mission.

• The 8:21 AM caller from Brookville, Illinois expounds on the high cost of the Israeli missiles and defense system and the high cost of fixing up Gaza after this current chapter of the conflict. Telhami concurs (at length).

• The 8:26 AM caller from Ellwood, Illinois is the only one of the seven callers in this segment voicing support for Israel. Telhami in a brief response observes that "the United States has been extraordinarily supportive of Israel."

• The 8:28 AM caller from Bradenton, Florida asks if Hamas actions are merely a tactical approach or those of a group interested only in radical Islamic aims. Telhami responds comparing Hamas to the Morsi government in claiming that government is likely to be absorbed in domestic politics economy-related in the near future.

• On May 27, 2012 guest Telhami, without citing any particular opinion polling in the Arab world, claims that "The core anger with American foreign policy in general is over the Israel-Palestine question" and "the policy that matters most now is the Israel-Palestine policy." These claims are misleading in that they ignore the impact of American foreign policy upon the Arab revolts and the violent schism in the Islamic world between Sunnis and Shiites.

• On May 27, 2012 Telhami ignores a caller's question (host Scully characteristically obliging). Instead he uses the opportunity to repeat one of his favorite themes, "As I said, I think the primary thing for the elections is really American policy in the Middle East, particularly for the Palestine question." Telhami's disproportionate emphasis on the Arab-Israel conflict is nothing new for him.

• On June 5, 2011 Telhami comments at length on the potential danger to Israel of failing to complete a peace treaty with the Palestinian Arabs but ignores a caller's main point regarding a risk to non-Muslim nations of making peace treaties with Muslim entities as is indicated by Koranic teachings. Specifically cited by the late Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat and by Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip, among others, has been the prophet Muhammad's Quraysh/Hudna model. Muhammad had struck a hudna (truce) with the non-Muslim Quraysh tribe that controlled Mecca in the seventh century but as soon as his followers were strong enough they broke the treaty and attacked and defeated the non-Muslim tribe. Host Scully fails to return the discussion to the central question."

• On March 24, 2013 a Palestinian Arab correspondent and an American Jewish journalist collaborated to obscure the realities of the Arab-Israeli peace process. Guests were Said Arikat, of Al-Quds daily newspaper and Nathan Guttman, Washington bureau chief for the (liberal Jewish) Daily Forward newspaper of New York. Guttman sat silently when host Scully interrupted caller "Jeff from Florida" who had made the appropriate point that Hamas was a genocidal, anti-Israel terrorist organization. Guttman was likewise mute as Arikat attempted to whitewash Hamas. Guttman even offered secondary support for anti-Israel caller "Frank from California" who falsely claimed that Palestinian Arabs were subject people to whom Israel denied the exercise of their civil rights. But when "Frank from Oklahoma" correctly paraphrased several biblical passages asserting the prophetic vision of a land of Israel unified under Jewish rule, Guttman was quick to denigrate this as only reflective of "the Christian evangelical community of the United States" in "support of the vision of a greater Israel" and "the Israeli right-wing." An inflammatory, false quote by caller "Chris from Pennsylvania" went unchallenged. The quote often attributed to Israel's founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion is based on an egregious mistranslation of a letter in which he actually wrote (benignly): "We do not want to and we do not have to expel the Arabs and take their place… " If Guttman and Arikat were meant to balance Washington Journal's Israeli-Palestinian guest selection, one end of C-SPAN's teeter-totter was still on the ground.


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