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Media Analyses





CNN Rebroadcasts "God's Jewish Warriors" with Revisions


On October 31, CNN rebroadcast "God’s Jewish Warriors" for the first time since late August. CAMERA had criticized the series for three distinct types of errors and bias:

• Establishing a moral equivalence between Jewish and Christian "Warriors," who are merely devout in their beliefs, and Muslim "Warriors" who are jihadists responsible for the deaths of literally hundreds of thousands of people around the world, including in Algeria, Indonesia, Israel, the United States, Britain and Spain.

• Including material falsehoods that denigrate both Israel and American supporters of Israel.

• Presenting a one-sided lineup of "expert" guests made up of critics of Israel such as Jimmy Carter, John Mearsheimer and Charles Percy. CNN also presented as a centerpiece of its two-hour program only one view on the legality of settlements – that settlements are illegal – concealing from viewers the fact that numerous eminent scholars of international law consider them legal.

For more on CAMERA's critiques, see here. For selected video footage from the original version of the program and refutations, see here

In the rebroadcast version, many editorial changes have been made and most of the serious factual errors identified by CAMERA have been addressed. However, unchanged is the fundamentally dishonest premise of the series equating religiously devout Jews and Christians to radical Islam. Distorted focus on the rare instances of Jewish terrorist plots is slightly muted in the editing while reliance on partisan "experts" denigrating Israel remains.

Below are the notable editorial changes CNN made, with sections underlined in the "CNN Revised" versions to indicate altered or added text:

1) CAMERA cited Christiane Amanpour’s false characterization of Israel’s options in the wake of the Six-Day War which were said by CNN to include either trading land for peace – or building settlements. These were not Israel’s choices at all, as the rejectionist Arab summit in Khartoum in September 1967 underscored with its issuing of the three "no’s" – no recognition, no negotiation and no peace.

CNN Original:

Amanpour: But the Israeli government was divided -- trade the captured land for peace or keep it and build Jewish settlements?

CNN Revised:

Amanpour: But the Israeli government was divided -- trade the captured land for peace or keep it and build Jewish settlements?

Amanpour: Religious settlers pressed ahead. At the same time, eight Arab countries said "No" to peace and "No" to recognizing Israel.

Israel’s Defense Minister, Moshe Dayan, viewed settlements as a way to protect Israel. In a memo to other government ministers, he said, "We must consolidate our hold so that over time we will succeed in digesting Judea and Samaria and merging them with ‘little’ Israel."

2) In a highly deceptive sequence, CNN misrepresented American presidential statements on the legality of settlements, saying all presidents have spoken from virtually the same script – that settlements are illegal. In particular, images of Ronald Reagan who had explicitly said the opposite – that they are "not illegal" – were shown suggesting he concurred with this view.

CNN Original:

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: The United States will not support the use of any additional land for the purpose of settlements.

CNN Revised:

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

The Ford and Carter Administrations said the settlements were illegal.

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

Amanpour: While later administrations did not call them "illegal," they all opposed settlement growth.

Ronald Reagan: The United States will not support the use of any additional land for the purpose of settlements.

3) In another, highly incendiary and false sequence, CNN charged that President George H.W. Bush resisted doggedly, but eventually capitulated to, ferocious and inexorable Jewish lobby pressures in favor of loan guarantees to Israel in the early 1990's. CAMERA pointed out that with the election of a new and conciliatory Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, it was Israel – not the U.S. – that backed down on the contentious issue.

In the revised version, CNN addresses this.

CNN Original:

Amanpour: So the Bush administration took an unprecedented step. U.S. loan guarantees for housing in Israel would now come with strings attached.

James Baker, former Secretary of State: We will support the loan guarantees if there is a halt or an end to settlement activity.

Amanpour: Those were fighting words.

G.H.W. Bush: I've heard today something like 1,000 lobbyists on the Hill working the other side of the question. We have got one little lonely guy down here doing it, so ...

Amanpour: There were 1,000 lobbyists. Many from the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC. Its annual convention in Washington sends members out to work the Hill. On the issue of loans, Congress got the message.

Unidentified Member of Congress: We should stick with our friends.

Sen. Arlen Specter, (R) PA: Just not the right or fair way to treat an ally.

Sen. Charles Schumer, (D) NY: By forcing the fight, the president gets in the way of the peace process.

Amanpour: President Bush vowed to stand firm.

G.H.W. Bush: I'm not going to shift the foreign policy of this country because of political expediency. I can't do that and have any credibility worldwide.

Amanpour: But just a few months later, the very week of the Republican National Convention, the pro-Israel lobby had something to celebrate.

Unidentified Female: President Bush announced his support for the loan guarantees.

Amanpour: And to this day, no other administration has so publicly threatened to withhold financial support because of the settlements.

CNN Revised:

Amanpour: So the Bush administration took an unprecedented step. U.S. loan guarantees for housing in Israel would now come with strings attached.

James Baker, former Secretary of State: We will support the loan guarantees if there is a halt or an end to settlement activity.

Amanpour: Those were fighting words.

G.H.W. Bush: I've heard today something like 1,000 lobbyists on the Hill working the other side of the question. We have got one little lonely guy down here doing it, so ...

Amanpour: There were 1,000 lobbyists. Many from the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC. Its annual convention in Washington sends members out to work the Hill. On the issue of loans, Congress got the message.

Unidentified Member of Congress: We should stick with our friends.

Sen. Arlen Specter, (R) PA: Just not the right or fair way to treat an ally.

Sen. Charles Schumer, (D) NY: By forcing the fight, the president gets in the way of the peace process.

Amanpour: President Bush vowed to stand firm.

G.H.W. Bush: I'm not going to shift the foreign policy of this country because of political expediency. I can't do that and have any credibility worldwide.

Amanpour: In June 1992, Israel voted in a new Prime Minister, Yitzchak Rabin, who promised to curb settlement growth.

(Archival footage: G.H.W. Bush greeting Rabin: Anyhow, welcome once again. We’re very glad you came.

Rabin: Thank you.)

Amanpour: In August, Bush and Rabin reached an agreement. The loan guarantees would go through but would be cut back if Israel would continue to build up the settlements.

During the Republican National Convention, the pro-Israel lobby had something to celebrate.

Unidentified Female: President Bush announced his support for the loan guarantees.

But during the next 15 years, the settlement population more than doubled.

Amanpour: And to this day, no other administration has so publicly threatened to withhold financial support because of the settlements.

4) In a highly deceptive statement, CNN erroneously dated the "tug of war over Jerusalem" as beginning in 1967 when Israel removed a neighborhood near the Western Wall. There was no mention of 1948 or of Jews being prohibited from praying at the Wall.

CNN Original:

Amanpour: The 40-year tug of war over Jerusalem began when Israel bulldozed the Arab neighborhood next to the Western Wall and built a plaza where Jews now pray.

CNN Revised:

Amanpour: The Six-Day War was a turning point in the long, bitter tug of war over Jerusalem. At the Western Wall–off limit to Jews since 1948–Israel bulldozed an Arab neighborhood and built a plaza where Jews now pray.
 
5) CAMERA objected to CNN’s highly distorted amplifying of the incidence of Jewish terrorism, which is in reality extremely rare, and also to CNN’s failure to indicate the virtually universal Israeli denunciation of any such actions. In a segment about the Jewish Underground active in the 1980's, CNN edited the documentary as follows:

CNN Original:

Amanpour: Etzion and his co-conspirators were found guilty. And, after spending seven years in prison, he now says he repudiates terrorism.

Etzion (through translator): Vigilantes don't have the right to take the law into their own hands.

Amanpour: Instead, he hopes his books on religious philosophy will spread his vision of a Jewish messiah to be embraced by everyone, Jews, Christians, and even Muslims.

Etzion: (through translator): In the long run, I see it as the key for eternal peace, not just here, but in the whole world.

CNN Revised:

Amanpour: Etzion and his co-conspirators were found guilty. And, after spending seven years in prison, he now says he repudiates terrorism.

Etzion (through translator): Vigilantes don't have the right to take the law into their own hands.

Amanpour: While there was some terrorism, the majority of Israel’s Jewish population did not support it.

6) Related to this distorted amplifying of Jewish terrorism, CNN shortened a lengthy and lurid account of a failed attack by Jewish radicals to bomb an Arab girl’s school, an attempt that caused no casualties. And CNN removed other incendiary language in reference to Israel.

CNN Original:

Amanpour: And then they escalated.

Morag: From a desire to scare the Arabs off, you get to attempted murder. Only way. Big time.

Amanpour: To make a big time statement, they chose this target, a Palestinian girls' school in East Jerusalem.

Unidentifed male: One brings the car. One brings the explosives. One takes care of the clock, one makes the bomb and that’s how it works.

Amanpour: They built a bomb in this trailer with propane tanks, barrels of gasoline, homemade shrapnel and stolen military explosives to set it off. The crude timer was set for 7:30 a.m., when children would just be arriving for class.

Shlomo Dvir (West Bank Settler): Whoever gets hurt gets hurt.

Amanpour: Jewish terror to match Palestinian terror.

CNN Revised:

Amanpour: They chose this target, a Palestinian girls' school in East Jerusalem. They built a bomb in this trailer with propane tanks, barrels of gasoline, homemade shrapnel and stolen military explosives to set it off. The crude timer was set for 7:30 a.m., when children would just be arriving for class.

Shlomo Dvir (West Bank Settler): Whoever gets hurt gets hurt.

CNN Original:

Announcer: A Jewish underground and a trail of blood, when politics and piety collide. "God’s Warriors" continues.

CNN Revised:

Announcer: The Jewish Underground and Vigilante Justice. "God’s Warriors" continues.

7) CAMERA had noted Amanpour’s very striking and heavy-handed use of the phrase "God’s Jewish Warriors" which was repeated 22 times in the two hour segment (in contrast to the 5 references to "God’s Muslim Warriors" in the Muslim-focused program and 8 in the Christian version). With the cuts, two of these are removed; the striking disparity obviously remains.

8) There are numerous other cuts and changes, most of which appear to have been made to accommodate additions and do not substantially alter a given section of the program.

A few reduced some of the inflammatory characterizations of religious Jews. For instance, a reference to New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind and his wife as "orthodox Jews who believe God’s promise to the Jewish people includes the occupied territories" has been removed. Still in the broadcast is the offensive and false statement: "Six thousand miles from Israel’s settlements, in the heart of Manhattan, defiance of international law comes dressed in diamonds."


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