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Media Analyses





C-SPAN July – August 2010


August 30, 2010 – 7:56 AM

Host: ROBB HARLESTON

Guest: YOCHI DREAZEN, National Journal senior national security correspondent.

Topic: U.S. foreign policy review.

Caller: Don from Georgetown, South Carolina.

Caller: "I am shocked, I did not realize that things were so wonderful in the Gaza region and that the Palestinians were flourishing so well. I was under the impression that eight ships were being blocked and terrorist Israeli troops were descending on ships killing people. Thank you for the update. As far as the Iraq war is concerned, this is a complete tragedy that never should have happened. Saddam Hussein was completely cut off – we had a no fly zone – and basically I think this war was inspired by the Israeli lobby in the United States, and now they're pushing for us to invade Iran."

NOTE: Except for the guest's clarification that when he described good economic conditions for Palestinian Arabs he had been referring to the West Bank rather than the Gaza Strip, the caller's sarcastic falsification were permitted to stand unchallenged. C-SPAN's host is silent on essential points. These include:

* Major U.S. and European news media have reported for months on continuing, rapid economic recovery in the West Bank and that, due to both humanitarian aid permitted by Israel and consumer goods smuggled via tunnels from Egypt, that the Gaza Strip has more than adequate supplies of both food and medicine and many consumer goods.

* The Turkish-led "Gaza aid flotilla" the caller referred to in fact carried little aid (Israel had offered to inspect and allow into the Strip) and in reality was an attempt to break Israel's embargo of arms and dual-use shipments to Gaza's Hamas rulers.

* Israeli troops enforcing the embargo met with well-documented violence initiated by those on board the "Mavi Marmara," a Turkish ship carrying flotilla leaders with ties to a pro-Hamas Turkish Islamist group.

* The charge that the Iraq war "was inspired by the Israeli lobby in the United States, and now they're pushing for us to invade Iran" is standard anti-Jewish, anti-Israeli propaganda. In fact, Israel had an interest in an Iraq strong enough to offset Iran, as Saddam Hussein had done. But it, like the United States and many European countries, concluded from Saddam's repeated refusals to cooperate with international inspectors that he indeed was resuming Iraq's efforts to obtain nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

Rather than question the caller on any of these fundamental points, or on the dangers to the United States and U.S. interests, of a nuclear-armed Iran, the C-SPAN host sits silently, allowing Washington Journal once more to be a bigot's platform.

August 30, 2010 – 8:08 AM

Host: ROBB HARLESTON.

Guest: YOCHI DREAZEN, National Journal senior national security correspondent.

Topic: U.S. foreign policy review.

Caller: Keith from Waterbury, Connecticut.

Caller: "I just have a couple of comments. The first comment: I would just like to say that the earlier caller was absolutely100 percent correct. I am an African-American. President Obama is the biggest double-talker that I have ever seen in my life. By following his actions, and not his words, I am 100 percent sure that President Obama is taking troops out of Iraq to go into Iran. There's absolutely no way we can win a war in Iran with troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. So, he's taking the troops out of Iraq for Iran. That's the first comment I have to make. The second comment I have to make is, hopefully, a lot of these Christians – these born-again Christians -- listen very carefully: The so-called Jews that are in Israel right now that are fighting for the land are not the Jews that are from Israel. The so-called Negroes – African-America -- is the original Hebrew Israelite. They are fighting for the land that doesn't even belong to them and they're massacring Muslims across the country. That's my comment. Thank you."

NOTE: C-SPAN's host, apparently not recognizing the caller's fringe ideology, directs the guest to comment only the feasibility of a U.S. attack on Iran. But the caller's main claim, introduced with "listen very carefully," is a variant of the 19th century British-Israelite myth. This idiosyncratic fantasy held that the biblical Ten Lost Tribes of Israel were early settlers of the British Isles, making modern Britons "the original Hebrew Israelites." The extreme right-wing "Aryan Nation" and "Christian Identity" movements in late 20th century America held to a version of this myth. So too, changing geography to account for racial differences, do some followers of Rev. Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam movement. Hence the repeated use of descriptions like "the so-called Jews that are in Israel right now are not the Jews from Israel," that is, not descendants of biblical Jews. Of course, continuous Jewish diaspora history, from the Roman expulsions to the rebirth of Israel as a Jewish state, and modern DNA testing which indicates strongly both Jewish geneological continuity and Middle Eastern origins, contradict the "British Israelite," "Hebrew Israelite," "Christian Identity" myth.

That the Washington Journal host either doesn't recognize or can't respond to such errant nonsense suggests he's in over his head as program moderator. Failure to point out less esoteric but even more obvious falsehoods – President Obama has not withdrawn troops from Iraq and Afghanistan to deploy to Iran, but rather from Iraq to send into Afghanistan; Israelis are not "massacring Muslims across the country" (though Arabized Sudanese Muslims are doing just that to hundreds of thousands of black Africans across Darfur, for example). This indicates that on C-SPAN, callers can spew nearly any anti-Jewish, anti-Israel message with little or no challenge.

August 26, 2010 – 7:20 AM

Host: SUSAN SWAIN

Topic: Is there a case for "rational optimism?"

Caller: Kate from Chopwood, Ohio.

Caller: "I want to be an optimist. I think we potentially could as a nation but I think we have to face the stark harsh realities of we did in Iraq and what we are doing -- our foreign-policy is just extremely shaky and the rest of the world knows it. If you ask most Americans how many people in Iraq have died as a direct consequence of our invasion they wouldn't even have an answer or how many people injured or displaced and Those people didn't do anything to us. So I think we have really, really harsh realities to face. Like an earlier caller said, like we are a nation of alcoholics in how we deal with what we are in denial about. I don't think we should have optimism. You can watch [MSNBC's] Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann every night of week and not hear anything about the deaths in Iraq war on what really took place – or our foreign policy with Israel and with the Palestinians. We have had decades of black outs with the news about the harsh realities for the Palestinians for what's really going on there. And so as a nation, no, I don't think we should be optimistic except that the American public in many ways don't want to know the harsh realities and the mainstream media certainly kind of goes along and doesn't really give people the harsh realities of our actions and our foreign policies."

NOTE: Host Swain, who also is C-SPAN's president and co-CEO, is typically unresponsive to a caller's misrepresentations of U.S. and Israeli policies. She should have at least asked the obvious question: "If MSNBC (perhaps the most anti-U.S. foreign policy cable network) doesn't satisfy your need for the news, what is the news source for your assertions?" Swain limited her response to a simple thanks, disregarding the caller's nonsense about "decades of black outs with the news about the harsh realities for the Palestinians for what's really going on there." In fact, just the opposite is true, the news media has provided a disproportionately large coverage of Palestinian Arabs considering the relative numbers and the greatly exaggerated extent of their plight. Compare the disproportionate emphasis on Palestinian difficulties with large-scale tragedies in Dafur or Rwanda, Iraq and Afghanistan at the hands of other Muslims, in Tibet under Chinese oppression, or North Korea (where a real news black out has long been in effect). The true "harsh realities" have evaded this caller but her distorted perceptions and unsubstantiated pro-Palestinian sentimentality are unchallenged at Washington Journal.

August 26, 2010 – 7:32 AM

Host: SUSAN SWAIN

Topic: Is there a case for "rational optimism?"

Caller: Khalid from Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Caller: "No ‘rational optimism' if you are Palestinian or if you are Iraqi or anybody in the third world or anybody who was receiver of a drone from our country. There is no rational optimism. Only for the people who -- the small percentage enjoying the benefits of what ever they are benefiting from. But on the other hand, no ‘rational optimism.'"

NOTE: As with the 7:20 AM caller, this caller implies that all Palestinian Arabs, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and other anti-Israeli terrorist groups, are undifferentiated innocent victims – rather than often, as consequences of their own actions, on the receiving end of legitimate Israeli counter-terrorism. He likewise suggests that Iraqis "or anybody in the third world" can be a victim of U.S. aggression when, in fact, he's describing highly limited American counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency actions. C-SPAN's host makes no response, let alone an intelligent challenge to the caller's superficial negativism that would note the overall well-being of the great majority of Americans and this country's well-established history of overcoming serious challenges.

August 16, 2010 – 7:05 AM

Host: PAUL ORGEL

Topic: Is Afghanistan war winnable?

Caller: Ken from Roseland, Virginia.

Caller: "In order to determine whether the war is winnable, you have to recognize what the situation was on 9/11. The fact is that we were planning to go in – we had troops and people, ships ready to attack Afghanistan before the buildings were brought down. And people don't know – and this is essential – that for understanding the war and why we're there and why we should bring them home. The buildings were not brought down by Muslims. They were not involved. This was done – it was an inside job – and so, if you realize that, the whole picture of the activity in Iran, Iraq has got to be stopped. And what they want to do is get us into a war in Iran as soon as this coming Saturday. You'll find that the Israelis have – the Iranians have said the nuclear facilities will go on line this coming Saturday and the Israelis have said we can't allow them to have nuclear facilities. It's not a nuclear missile site but it's a nuclear facility site."

NOTE: Host Orgel neither interrupts nor responds to caller's crackpot diatribe. The claim that "9/11 was an inside job," in other words, that the U.S. government committed or at least connived in the mass murder of U.S. citizens is a central tenet of the "Truthers," a contemporary manifestation of classic paranoid conspiracy theorists. That the Washington Journal host did not immediately expose this fallacy and its related claims – that Muslims were not responsible for the attacks, that the United States was ready to invade Afghanistan before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, that an otherwise unnamed, ominous "they" wants to get the United States into a war with Iran for Israel's sake, that Iran's nuclear weapons program is not a nuclear weapons program – amounts to journalistic dereliction of duty.

August 16, 2010 – 7:09 AM

Host: PAUL ORGEL

Topic: Is Afghanistan war winnable?

Caller: Darrell from St. Louis, Missouri (anti-Jewish, anti-Israel frequent caller also using the name Bill from Missouri).

Caller: "The war is un-winnable. It's un-winnable because the Afghanistan people have nothing to do with 9/11. If you want to bomb somebody for 9/11 then you need to go to Israel. They were the ones that were behind 9/11."

NOTE: Host Orgel fails to responds to the obsessively anti-Israel, anti-Jewish caller's familiar, patently false, allegation. Would C-SPAN and Washington Journal similarly tolerate – neither rebutting nor cutting off – a caller who, responding to a program topic "The status of civil rights in America?" asserted that Europeans had nothing to do with the slave trade and that blacks "were the ones behind" it? Of course not. Again, when it comes to exposing and rejecting the wildest anti-Jewish, anti-Israel charges, C-SPAN goes AWOL.
 
August 15, 2010 – 8:59 AM

Host: STEVE SCULLY

Guest: SONAL VERMA, American Immigration Lawyers Association, D.C. Chapter chairman.

Topic: Becoming a U.S. citizen.

Caller: Yusef from Atlanta, Georgia.

Caller : “I think we should let all the Mexicans, we should let all the Haitians, all the Jamaicans, we should let all of them into the country because this is God's land. This is not no, you know, U.S. land, this land belongs to God. And so, if we can allow them to come in, then we can really find out and fight those Jews, who really behind this stuff and really divide the people with immigration (indistinct).“

Host (interrupting) : “Wai, wai, wai, wai, wait. Why do you say that, caller?

Caller: “Why do I say that? Look up the history of the Jews. Anytime there's anything Jewish, Y'all cut people off. Y'all do not hear people (indistinct).”

Host: “No. I would say the same for any ethnic or religious group. I'm just trying to get a sense of the thinking.”

Caller : “If you look at the history of them, they have always divided the people. They have always divided people by race, by color, by finances. So, really it's the Jews behind all of this stuff. Ain't no such thing as immigration (indistinct) should allow everybody into this country. Because if everybody goes back to their original land, where would the Jews be at?” (Scully belatedly cut-off the call here).

SCULLY: (addressing the guest): “Did you want to respond?”

Guest: “No.”

NOTE: Washington Journal host Scully should have ended the conversation at the caller's third sentence, at the remark "then we can really find out and fight those Jews ...." Instead, he facilitates the rant by asking "Yusuf" to clarify his lunatic views. Predictably, this permits the caller to expand his anti-Semitic tirade. Instead of challenging a classic anti-Jewish formula – "really it's the Jews behind all of this stuff," that is, no matter what the problem, the evil root is the Jews – by noting that "Yusuf's" remarks sound like neo-Nazi or Nation of Islam fantasies, Scully's ducks responsibility; he weakly asks the guest "did you want to respond?" The host also takes the caller's bait, denying the false claim that C-SPAN always cuts off anti-Jewish calls when, in fact, it frequently tolerates anti-Semitic screeds. Scully's justification for letting the caller rant – "I'm just trying to get a sense of the thinking" also is false, since anti-black, anti-female, anti-Muslim, anti-homosexual tirades almost never are permitted on Washington Journal. But anti-Jewish ones like the above often are.
 
August 14, 2010 – 7:29 AM

Host: PEDRO ECHEVARRIA

Topic: President Obama defends mosque near 9/11 site.

Caller: Carol from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Caller: “Good morning. I just want to refer some of your listeners to two books that Obama wrote. One was the Audacity of Hope and the other was the Dreams of my Father. In Audacity of Hope, there's one quote from there that said – this is Obama speaking – ‘I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.' It is quite obvious that he is much more for the Muslims. When [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu came to the White House for the first time, he got the cold shoulder from Obama. And we have so many Jewish Senators in Congress – not one of them – not one of them stood up and said, you know, ‘We are friends of Israel, Netanyahu doesn't deserve to be treated that way.' And there was some kind of a backlash, so the second time Netanyahu came – he [Obama] was more cordial to him. Israel was our friend but from what this quote says, if it's between the Jews and the Muslims, Obama is on the side of the Muslims. I can't imagine why all the Jewish people in this country – there are a great number of Jewish Congressmen and Senators – I don't know what the population is of the Jewish people in this country – are they all sitting quietly and not saying something? Because this is what it's all about. This building of this Muslim mosque on that ground – is the beginning of it. It's … (cut-off by host).”
 
August 12, 2010 – 8:59 AM

Host: SUSAN SWAIN

Guest: TODD PURDUM, Vanity Fair national editor.

Topic: Is Washington broken?

Caller: Jim from Atlanta, Georgia (anti-Israel, anti-Jewish, frequent caller disguising his voice).

Caller: “Yeah, I think Washington Journal is corrupted by neocons. You're not even talking about General [David] Petraeus. Now you're skimmin' neocon Max Boot [of the Council on Foreign Relations]. There's an anti-war dot com article about it. You guys are not even talking about that. What's the story? I mean, you people are going to have a media blitz here on C-SPAN but won't even address that issue either. Go to America-hijacked dot com for more. Thank you.”

SWAIN (smiling): “To get his point of view, he is worried about neocon influence on policy and General Petraeus' upcoming speech.”

PURDUM: “I do not think General Petraeus is going to be the kind of person who will be unduly swayed by either party. I think both parties agree that if anyone has to be doing this job, General Petraeus is the man to do it.”

NOTE: Host Swain smiles (perhaps in recognition) reacting to the frequent caller's rant which, like his many others, nearly always include, as in this instance, promoting Websites devoted to falsehoods and distortions blaming Israel and Jews for America's Middle East-related problems (Islamist terrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran etc.). The caller, like his Websites, uses the word “neocon” as a code word mainly to mean Jews, but also others who support Israel. Host should have cut off caller, who often violates C-SPAN's ostensible one-call-per-thirty-days rule, attempts to disguise his voice, and repeats his boilerplate accusations against neo-conservatives.

August 6, 2010 – 9:18 AM

Host: PETER SLEN

Guest: JOHN KROGER, Oregon Attorney General.

Topic: Implementing the health care law in states.

Caller: Ralph from Hartford, Connecticut.

Caller: “Mr. Kroger, I was just wondering, are you Jewish?”

SLEN: “Why does that matter? Caller, seriously, why does that matter?”

Caller: “Excuse me?”

SLEN: “Why does that matter? We're talking about health care. (Caller Ralph is cut-off by host). We're just going to move on. That's certainly inconsequential. It's so unnecessary.”

SLEN: “Tony, Democrat, Germantown, Maryland. Go ahead.”

Caller Tony: “Yes, ah (pause).”

SLEN: “Tony, are you with us? Yeah, okay. I'm not sure what Tony wanted either.”

NOTE: Host Slen preempted guest's response to the caller's off-topic, anti-Jewish question. Mr. Slen's body language expresses frustration and anger. But, apparently the C-SPAN bleep facility, unused in this instance, is to be employed only very sparingly. “Ralph” is representative of numerous callers in the C-SPAN audience who are obsessively anti-Jewish and anti-Israel. No other ethnic, religious or national group elicits this kind of antagonism and Washington Journal hosts generally are still slow to recognize and reject it.

August 2, 2010 – 7:13 AM

Host: GRETA BRAWNER

Topic: Which issue will impact your vote in November?

Caller: Mary from Long Beach, California.

Caller: “Yes. I am an independent voter. I have a son – a grandson – in Afghanistan. My issue is foreign policy. How many wars are we gonna go fight for the illegal occupation of Israel? How many candidates – I vote on the candidate. I look through and I see who takes money from AIPAC, who doesn't, who caters to the lobby and who doesn't. That's how I vote. I can vote Democrat, Republican, independent. I just vote for the candidate – I vote on foreign policy. That's my issue. Thank you.”

Host Brawner: (No response.)

NOTE: Yet again on C-SPAN's Washington Journal, a frequent anti-Israel caller – "Mary" was "Debby" on August 1 and "Camille" on July 17 – proceeds without interruption or rebuttal. She is allowed to a) violate C-SPAN's ostensible "one-call-per-30-days" rule and b) make preposterous charges and erroneous anti-Israel remarks. Obviously, the United States has gone to war in Afghanistan and Iraq for what it believes are its own national interests, not Israel's (which, among other things, might have preferred an Iraq under Saddam Hussein counter-balancing Iran). Nothing the United States has done in Iraq in 2003 or after or Afghanistan in 2001 or later relates to Israel's legal military occupation then of the Gaza Strip (from which Israel withdrew unilaterally in 2005) or the West Bank. Israel remains in the West Bank – though the Palestinian Authority governs more than 90 percent of the Arab population – as a result of successful self-defense in the 1967 and 1973 wars, and pending a negotiated settlement of the disputed (non-sovereign) territory's status. In addition, the caller is allowed to falsify and slander by the host, who sits silently, and by C-SPAN itself, which does not cut "Mary" off.

August 1, 2010 – 8:22 AM

Host: STEVE SCULLY

Guests: (1) PATRICIA MURPHY (Capital Hill bureau chief for Politics Daily). (2) KATHLEEN HUNTER (House leadership reporter for Roll Call magazine).

Topic: Congressional agenda for August recess.

Caller: Debby from Los Angeles, California (anti-Israel, anti-Jewish, frequent caller who last called on July 17, 9:52 AM, as Camilla from Reseda, California).

Caller: "Yes. Hi. You were talking about ethics and the Ethics Committee. How come no one is bringing this up: on anti-war dot com there's an article entitled, ‘Who bought off General Petraeus?' No one addresses this issue. How come no one is addressing this? He's been bought off by the neocons –you know – the Israeli lobby, AIPAC is pushing us into more wars in the Middle East. And you can see more articles on that on America-hijacked dot com. Thank you for taking my call."

NOTE: Yet again on Washington Journal, a frequent anti-Israel caller is allowed to a) violate C-SPAN's ostensible "one-call-per-30-days" rule, b) go completely off topic, c) make preposterous anti-Israel and anti-Jewish ("the neocons – you know – the Israeli lobby, AIPAC is pushing us into more wars in the Middle East") claims and d) cite fringe anti-Jewish, anti-Israeli Web sites. In addition, she's allowed to do this by the host, who sits silently, and by C-SPAN itself, which does not cut off the caller.

July 31, 2010 – 9:44 AM

Host: PEDRO ECHEVARRIA

Guest: Michele McNeil, Education Week associate editor and federal policy reporter.

Topic: "Race to the top" competition [education funding].

Host: Pat from Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Caller: "Good morning. I find it – here in Wisconsin we call it ‘Race to the trough.' I find it interesting that you said that Delaware is one of the qualifiers [for additional education funding]. Joe Biden was quoted as saying ‘Not all Jews are Zionists, not all Zionists are Jews – I am a Zionist' and I feel that this is just the Zionists [translation: Jews and their non-Jewish supporters] on Wall Street, in the Federal Reserve and in our United States Senate who put Barack Obama in power over Hillary Clinton."

Host: "Burbank, California – educators line – Matt."

NOTE: C-SPAN host, Echevarria, after failing to beep out the caller's off-topic, preposterous, pernicious anti-Jewish remarks also failed to repudiate them with a comment. Yet again on Washington Journal, an agitated caller is allowed to vent obsessive, conspiracy-spinning blame on "Zionists" for some perceived problem. Zionism is the modern Jewish national movement, based on the belief that the Jewish people merit, and, in fact, ultimately cannot survive as a people without their own nation in their ancient homeland. C-SPAN's chronic anti-Jewish, anti-Israeli callers often use "Zionist" as a euphemism for Jews. This caller put words into Vice-President Biden's mouth. While Mr. Biden has been accurately quoted as saying, "I am a Zionist," he has not publicly stated "Not all Jews are Zionists, not all Zionists are Jews," a statement that happens to be accurate as is exemplified by organizations such as Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which claims a large membership. Years of C-SPAN's airing calls containing egregious denigration of Jews and Israel may, perhaps have habituated Washington Journal viewers to vitriol the like of which the cable network exposes no other group to, including, for example, Arabs and Muslims.

July 28, 2010 – 8:32 AM

Host: STEVE SCULLY

Guest: Rep. JANE HARMAN, D-California, Homeland Security Intelligence & Terrorism Risk Sub-committee chair.

Topic: Afghanistan war strategy.

Caller: Don from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Caller: "Thank you very much. Ms. Harman, we're not trying to impose our will on people? We invaded two countries, and you're saying we're not trying to impose our will or views on these people – I mean – come on – please."

HARMAN: "Well ..."

Caller (interrupting): "... and please, before you – could you tell us a little bit about how you were willing to sell your vote so the Israeli lobby could get you a cabinet post? Could you tell us a little bit about that."

HARMAN (smiling): "Okay. Our formal policies are that we're not trying to impose our will. They are that we are trying to help societies develop democratic governance and stability, which, in the end, protects us. I do get it that a lot of people think we're trying to impose our will, and I think our strategy is not succeeding as we had hoped. That's what I've been saying for half an hour on this show. As far as the other [guest is chuckling] comment, I'm sorry the caller believes what was a ridiculous smear campaign. But that is over. I hope you know that, caller. And my view about Israel and the Palestinians, by the way, which did come up in a prior comment – I did not have a chance to say this – is that I strongly support a two-state solution with the state of Israel and the state of Palestine living side by side in peace and with the whole Arab region, 22 countries, and Israel, part of an economic market which could be fabulously successful and lead to the development of everybody living in that reg ion, and I surely am sympathetic to the plight of many Palestinians who live with no hope, and I would hope that the Palestinian Authority and the government of Israel would get back to direct negotiations and conclude a proper deal where a Jewish state of Israel lives next to a Palestinian state which represents the interest of Palestinians."

NOTE: Yet again, a C-SPAN host allows an off-topic caller to voice gratuitous anti-Israel, conspiracy-spinning comments grossly exaggerating the influence of groups supporting Israel. This was an appropriate instance for C-SPAN to invoke its bleep facility (last used on Washington Journal July 25, 2010 at 7:18 AM).
 
July 17, 2010 – 9:52 AM

Host: PEDRO ECHEVARRIA

Guest: MICHAEL LIND, policy director of the New America Foundation.

Topic: Comprehensive [financial] reform is overrated.

Caller: Camilla from Reseda, California (frequent caller).

Caller: “Thank you for taking my call. Yeah, First of all, I wanted to say I read your article on anti-war dot com on the neo conservatives taking over Washington. Now, this all boils down to – this comes down to where our money is going to – we can't afford all these services because the neo-cons truly took over Washington. Neo-conservatism – and you can read Stephen Sniegoski's book, The Transparent Cabal – is totally, totally a Jewish movement because the ADL, AIPAC and CFR control our Congress and our president. We are spending billions and billions of dollars dying for wars in the Middle East for Israel which AIPAC has pushed us into. Now they are trying to get us into a war with Iran. How can we afford to do what the last caller said and take care of the poor?”

Host: “Caller, ‘comprehensive reform' is our topic. Do you have a question for our guest on that?”

Caller: “Well, that's basically it because that has to do with where all our money is going. We can't afford to take care of our own people.”

Guest: “Well, I disagree with the premise that neo-conservatism is merely a Jewish movement. It's actually a philosophical movement with roots in Cold War liberalism as I described in my writings about the movement. I've been quite critical of it. When it comes to money, in fact that the United States is not broken and will not go broke. What has happened, as a result of the Bush tax cuts, is that we have a great gap between our spending and investments (etc.).”

NOTE: Resuming her C-SPAN calls after a two-month layoff, the caller again is off topic, as is often the case, but the host indulges her, gently reminding that “comprehensive reform is our topic.” Nevertheless, he allows her to proceed although a cut-off is clearly in order as she asserts classic anti-Semitic charges of Jewish control, misrepresents American Jewish and pro-Israel organizations, and sites biased sources. Guest refutes caller's absurd contention that “neo-conservatism … is totally a Jewish movement” but ignores caller's equally absurd allegation that Jews determine U.S. defense policy through control of Congress and the president. Both host and guest, ignoring the elephant in the room, fail to confront the pernicious issue posed by an obviously anti-Jewish conspiracy-obsessed caller, one with a C-SPAN history of using nearly any topic as a pretext to attribute America's ills to the Jews and Israel.

This frequent caller to Washington Journal, using different names, often states her locale as Reseda, California. In addition, she has called C-SPAN's Book TV program voicing her anti-Israel conspiracy-fueled obsessions. For instance, she called from Reseda, California on May 9, 2010 to excoriate Zionism (i.e. Jewish nationalism) while defending the actions of the anti-U.S., fanatical Iranian government. At that time, host Peter Slen remarked, “This is a caller who calls in nearly every day with the same (anti-Israel, anti-Jewish) message.” That being recognized, why doesn't C-SPAN enforce its "one call per 30 days" rule?
 
July 8, 2010 – 9:27 AM

Host: SUSAN SWAIN

Guest: PETER BEINART, author, senior fellow at the New America Foundation, teacher at City University of New York, contributor to Time magazine.

Topic: U.S. global influence.

Caller: Phil from Kansas.

Caller: “Good morning. I accept the idea that it is becoming more and more difficult for America to exert its influence on the world, but I want to dovetail that into a piece you wrote about the Jewish sense of victimhood – I may not have this completely right – in America's role in the Middle East. Just a couple of things, one is that we're trying to exert a lot of influence and pressure on Israel now to make concessions and seems to be more concessions that Israel is willing to make. And then dovetail that into – maybe I'm having a difficult time with the thesis that you have that to the Jewish community, particularly the American Jewish community, is using a sense of victimhood to further its ends and I don't know how to reconcile that. I want a solution to the Middle East and I want America involved somehow I'm not sure how much influence we can exert. But how do we reconcile that when all around Israel there is Hezbollah. Their charter is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Iran is. Hamas and others. Then also, the frame of reference. I am Irish – my background is Irish. In conversations that I have had in our family, particularly the generation preceding me, was that the potato famine and British social policy and other things were part of our discussion which are part of our history, same thing with African-Americans. I think it would be offensive to tell an African-American that you have to get over the sense of victimhood. I'm sorry, the slavery is part of their heritage.”

BEINART: “It is a very thoughtful question, something I have wrestled with a lot. As an American Jew, I was taught about the Holocaust as a child. I and will teach my own children about it. We have an imperative never to forget the Holocaust and thousands of years of Jewish exiles and anti-Semitism sought. One needs to understand the past but also recognize that there can be changes. While I think it would be a terrible thing for Jews – in fact anybody – to forget the history of oppression of Jews throughout the world, which has deeply influenced my own family. I also think it is dangerous to be stuck in the past and not to see the way in which Europe, for instance has changed has changed quite radically. I was just in Israel. One of the extraordinary things is that one of the most popular destinations for young Israeli kids to go and spend a year or two – many are spending their whole lives there – is Berlin. Who would have ever thought that? It's a testament to the extraordinary change in German society. There's been a radical decline in anti-Semitism in the United States. What worries me about the Holocaust is not in remembering the Holocaust – but it is trying to suggest that we still live in 1938 today. Israel has very real enemies, but Israel's situation today as a country with nuclear weapons and the strongest military in the Middle East is not the same as the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto. And when I heart analogies like that – and you do get them particularly from this Israeli leader sometimes – that bothers me.”

Host: “… What do you think of the administration's path forward with regard to Middle East?”

BEINART: “I think that President Obama is in a very, very difficult situation. The Palestinian leadership is weak and divided. The Israeli leadership is led by a man who has spent his entire career opposing the Palestinian state and I think, still to this day, is not particularly interested in bringing one about. I think that President Obama understands that at least if there is no effort at moving forward, then, in fact, what you tend to find in the Middle East is that you move backward and you could have a situation where Hamas took power in the West Bank or which you foreclose the possibility of ever having a Palestinian state. It is right that he is very involved. But his chances of full success are slim.”

NOTE: The guest errs in characterizing Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's position as unalterably opposed to a new West Bank and Gaza Strip Palestinian-Arab state (see the NOTE for the 9:46 AM call below). Mr. Beinart also ignores or at least seriously downplays the existential threat to the Jewish state posed by a fundamentalist, apocalyptic Iranian regime in possession of nuclear weapons. The guest also ignores the resurgence of open anti-Semitism in much of Europe, combined with the spread of radical Islam in many European cities that has caused Jews to flee places such as Malmo, Sweden and forced many Jewish institutions to function behind extensive security measures. Likewise, Mr. Beinart ignores the melding of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism and its prevalence on even some American college campuses. These disturbing developments have been noted not only by Israeli political leaders but a number of mainstream U.S. Jewish representatives. Neither Mr. Beinart nor the host acknowledges these phenomena.
 
July 8, 2010 – 9:31 AM

Host: SUSAN SWAIN

Guest: PETER BEINART, author, senior fellow at the New America Foundation, teacher at City University of New York, contributor to Time magazine.

Topic: U.S. global influence.

Caller: Kevin from San Diego, California.

Caller: “Hi Mr. Beinart. I want to say I agree with what you are saying about America having to reckon with the consequences of the unfounded over confidence in what America can do. I actually think it is a lot broader than just the international issues. David Brooks has talked a little about this like the failure of social institutions. We see all of these giant domestic problems – or agendas with the U.S. government, failing basically. They were all predicated on huge confidence in what the government can do and what the U.S. can do. It is a very broad issue in that sense. I also wanted to get you to say on the Israel issue, how does this problem with over confidence in the U.S. government's ability, how should that play into our relationship with Israel and how we dictate our policy with regard to them?”

BEINART: “Two questions there. On the question of government failing, I would say the critical question is do you believe governments inevitably fail?” (The guest proceeds to criticize domestic policies of past Republican administrations). “On the Israel thing, I would simply say I think one of the challenges for both Israel and the U.S. is how to maintain America's commitment to Israeli security in a circumstance in which America's footprint in the Middle East is likely to recede. America is withdrawing its troops from Iraq. America and Israel are making an effort to try to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and I deeply, deeply hope that succeeds. But it may fail. America and Israel would be forced to reckon with how we have to change our commitment and may have to increase our military commitment to Israeli security in order to create a sense of confidence in an environment where to some degree there has been a shift in power in the Middle East against us.”

NOTE: Mr. Beinart portrayed the precarious situation with respect to Iran.
 
July 8, 2010 – 9:35 AM

Host: SUSAN SWAIN

Guest: PETER BEINART, author, senior fellow at the New America Foundation, teacher at City University of New York, contributor to Time magazine.

Topic: U.S. global influence.

Caller: Tina from Florida.

Caller: “Good morning. Good morning Peter. Since we are giving credit to Ronald Reagan for not wanting to start a war, let's give credit to President Clinton also with the Yemen thing. But I also have a comment, we are wasting time in Afghanistan. I grew up Republican, believing that we protect Israel at all cost. I still believe that. If that is true, why aren't we in Israel or closer to Israel really doing something other than wasting time protecting poppies in Afghanistan? It seems like a waste of time, money, and dead bodies.”

BEINART: “Well, I, myself, have grown more skeptical of the Afghanistan mission. I do think that there was a moral commitment we made to the people of Afghanistan. Several years ago when this government of Hamid Karzai had more popular support and was less overwhelmingly corrupt, an American presence in Afghanistan was more popular. It might have been that the United States could've played a more constructive role there. I fear now we are in the situation in which we have committed to a counterinsurgency campaign and what we know about such things is that they have to be owned by the local government. Unless there is commitment to the people from that country, it is unlikely to work. In the recent Rolling Stone article about General Stanley McChrystal, the doubt about the Afghan president – he does not even know all the provinces where the U.S. military is fighting. That is very disturbing it seems to me. We also have the strange situation in which most of the Al Qaeda presence that we're worried about is across the border in the no-man's land areas of Pakistan. So, in a way, the war on terrorism is mostly being fought with drones and intelligence effort in Pakistan. In Afghanistan, we're involved in a (indistinct) costly and expensive effort at nation-building and counterinsurgency fighting against the Taliban in that society even though most people acknowledge that the Al Qaeda presence today in Afghanistan is very limited. So, I think, one has to ask in a country that is now deeply, deeply in debt, where our economic debt is potentially eroding our power in the world, is it a wise use of American resources and a wise expenditure of American lives.”

NOTE: Mr. Beinart ignores the caller's point about defending Israel but voices his concerns at length about the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

July 8, 2010 – 9:40 AM

Host: SUSAN SWAIN

Guest: PETER BEINART, author, senior fellow at the New America Foundation, teacher at City University of New York, contributor to Time magazine.

Topic: U.S. global influence.

Caller: Jonathon from Rockville, Maryland.

Caller: “Good morning. A lot of members of my family fought and died to defend the constitution of the United States. I have an issue with what is going on in the Middle East both with. Israel and the greater Muslim world. The Muslim world is not able to control their extremists. Israel is caught in the middle of it and Even Israel has had its own issues internally. I have a problem with American citizens having the option to fight in the Israeli army under another country's flag. If Israel decides to attack Iran, should Americans blood be shed? I truly believe that our unconditional support – I would support conditional support but not unconditional support of Israel – is sort of – it is our doomsday. A lot of people in the world think, how is America supposed to be an unbiased sort of mediator of peace?”

Host: “Thank you. Iran is a topic we have not yet discussed. This administration has carried on a policy in trying to find a solution to their nuclear ambitions. How do you think we and our allies are doing?”

BEINART: “Well, I think Barack Obama is doing a lot of things that frankly any president would try to do. He initially tried to have an effort at diplomacy, but that effort was pretty much destroyed by what happened with the Iranian elections and the Iranian government moving into an even more hard line and radical position. Now he has no choice but to move down the sanctions route. Some success in getting a new round of sanctions from the United Nations, allowing America and its allies to have tougher bilateral sanctions. But the truth is that the record of sanctions historically is pretty spotty. It may be beyond America's capacity to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon unless we use military force. Even then we would not know how successful that military campaign would be. I think, at the end of the day it is unlikely America will take military action given the impact that would have on our military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. I desperately hope the sanctions work. I hope even more that the green revolution overthrows the Iranian government tomorrow. That would be the best thing to happen for the Middle East and the region but I think we have to be realistic enough to also think about what we do on that very dark day after Iran gets a nuclear weapon and how we deal with a framework of containment and deterrence to keep an Iranian nuclear weapons from producing an arms race around the Middle East.”

NOTE: Neither guest nor host contradicts the caller's obvious misstatement that America's position toward Israel is one of “unconditional support.” The historical record clearly shows otherwise.
 
July 8, 2010 – 9:46 AM

Host: SUSAN SWAIN

Guest: PETER BEINART, author, senior fellow at the New America Foundation, teacher at City University of New York, contributor to Time magazine.

Topic: U.S. global influence.

Caller: Bill from Tennessee.

Caller: “Good morning. Thanks, C-SPAN. I want to point out when you ask him [the guest] to evaluate President Obama's position on the entire Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he said that Palestinian leadership was weak and divided, with his characterization. Also, that the Israeli leadership was led by a man whose ‘entire career has been spent opposing the Palestinian state.' First of all, I want to point out that – that is historically inaccurate. I have hours of Benjamin Netanyahu speeches within the last two or three years where he has advocated in his official position as prime minister as well as prior to his assuming that position, where he not only entertained that but he supported that idea. Your guest ignored the elephant in this whole theater of debate being that the Palestinians oppose Israel's right to even breathe – right to exist. Again, it sounds like you have on your hands yet again another apologist for Palestinian militants and general hatred of Jews. At this point it's very tiresome of hearing. Thank you”

BEINART: “Well, ah, ah, I would certainly resent the suggestion that I am an apologist for hatred of Jews – as a committed Jew myself. I said the Palestinians are divided. They're divided between a Hamas leadership in Gaza that has not accepted Israel's right to exist and it does have a hateful record of anti-Semitism and of violence against Israelis. But a Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, of Mahmoud Abbas and Salim Fayyad, that while weak, has been far, far more explicit than any other previous Palestinian leadership in rejecting violence and accepting Israel's right to exist – basically within the 1967 border – and being supportive of the kind of peace offers that were made in 2000 and 2001. In fact, Prime Minister Fayyad has moved toward non- violent protests. Abbas recently said that the Palestinians have made terrible, terrible mistakes in the past, for instance, in rejecting partitioning in 1948. So, I think, that not to recognize that there's been any shift in the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank is simply not to acknowledge reality."

"When it comes to Benjamin Netanyahu, he opposed the Palestinian state not just in the 1990's but as recently as when he ran for prime minister in 2009. He still opposed it when he created his coalition government. That's a big part of the reason that Tzipi Livni, the head of Kadima, who supports the Palestinian state, would not go into collision with him. Under enormous U.S. pressure, last summer, in a speech at Bar-Ilan University, he said he would support a Palestinian state while adding a caveat that had not been insisted upon by former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert. But I thought it was quite striking that in his press conference with the President on Tuesday, while the President talked about a Palestinian state, President – ah - Netanyahu repeatedly refused to use the words ‘Palestinian state.' Look at the transcript – he never uses the words ‘Palestinian state.' I think that suggests that he and some in his government coalition are still basically quite hostile to that idea. I wish that were not the case, but I am afraid I think is.”

NOTE: The guest failed to mention that in the Netanyahu speech he referred to at Bar Ilan University, the prime minister did use the words "Palestinian state." He reinforced a consistent position that he and Israeli leaders, and indeed a large majority of Israelis, have held, the goal of a negotiated peace between Israel and a Palestinian Arab country that recognizes Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish state, drops insistence on the fictitious Arab "right of return" and is demilitarized. In his Bar Ilan speech, Mr. Netanyahu said that creation of a Palestinian state is contingent on the Fatah movement of President Abbas defeating Hamas, because "Israel will not negotiate with terrorists trying to destroy it" and he insisted that the Palestinian Arabs recognize, "verbally, honestly, bindingly," that Israel is a Jewish state.”

Mr. Beinart criticizes those distrustful of Abbas' commitment to peace, saying that they don't “acknowledge reality.” But what reality? The guest managed to avoid discussing important points referred to in President Obama's comments during his recent press conference with Mr. Netanyahu: “I think it's very important that the Palestinians not look for excuses for incitement, that they are not engaging in provocative language; that at the international level, they are maintaining a constructive tone, as opposed to looking for opportunities to embarrass Israel.” The context for this remark was the Palestinian leadership's record of ongoing incitement (documented here, here, here, here and here) in communications media, mosques and classroom, to hatred against Israel and Jews.

The guest says Abbas supported the Israeli-U.S. offer of a West Bank and Gaza Strip state in return for peace with Israel in 2000 and 2001, but Abbas did not oppose, at the time, the rejection of those proposals and the launch of the "second intifada" terrorist war against Israel. In addition, Abbas as president rejected that offer when made by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. Mr. Beinart revises Palestinian Arab history and the C-SPAN host does not question him.

 

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