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Media Analyses





CNN's Amanpour Uses Shimon Peres' Passing to Malign Israeli Policies


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Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent and host of the network's flagship global affairs program, Amanpour, used Shimon Peres' passing on September 28, 2016 at age 93 as an opportunity to heap blame on Israel for the failure to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Two Amanpour broadcasts on CNN International featured Israeli and Palestinian guests opposed to Israel's policies toward the Palestinians. The guests for the September 28 broadcast were Yossi Beilin, left-wing Israeli politician and PLO's Ghassan Khatib, a former Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet member. The September 30 broadcast presented former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, left-center politician, and a cameo appearance by Mustafa Barghouti, former minister of information for the PA and member of the PLO Central Council.

Beilin, a former deputy foreign minister, was architect of the 1993 Oslo Accords peace effort. At the 10th anniversary of the Accords in 2003, he blamed Israeli leaders Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon for the collapse of the peace effort. Beilin is still blaming Netanyahu. Ghassan Khatib has mendaciously accused Israel of "continuous killing," of "brutal reaction" and more. Mustafa Barghouti's lack of credibility has been demonstrated by his numerous falsehoods including falsely claiming that Jesus, a Jew from Judea, was a Palestinian. Other examples of Barghouti's deceptions are here and here.

September 28
 
After eulogizing Shimon Peres, Amanpour brought in Yossi Beilin to criticize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policies. Citing statements by Ehud Barak, a former Israeli prime minister, Amanpour asked Beilin if "[T]he Likud government, particularly some of what he [Barak] calls the ‘extremists in Likud,' have kind of hijacked the process and are not interested in a two-state solution. Do you believe that's true?"
 
While acknowledging Palestinian "use of force and terrorism," Beilin replied that, "Yes, it is possible. Actually what happened in '96 when it was almost a tie between Peres and Netanyahu, and eventually Netanyahu became the prime minister, Netanyahu as head of the opposition, said that once he's the prime minister, he will actually abolish the Oslo agreement. And when he became the prime minister, in his deeds, he did it."
 
But what deeds? The host failed to ask. Amanpour then brought in Ghassan Khatib whose misleading, propagandistic claims went unchallenged. Amanpour asked him, "Just let me take what Mr. Beilin said in his last comment – that there is plenty of blame to go around. It's not all Israel's fault. It's the Palestinians' fault as well – that there is no final peace at this moment. Do you accept any responsibility?" Khatib replied,

I think there are different people who bear responsibility… when the majority of the Palestinian public and the Israeli public were able to live with historical compromise of two states, I think that Peres and Rabin were hesitant towards ending that occupation. And one of the signs into that is that they refused to stop the illegal expansion of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian-occupied territories, which contributed significantly to breaking the confidence between the two sides… Because the failure of the peace process brought to us the kind of fanatic politicians that we see now in the Israeli Knesset and cabinet.

Amanpour accepted the diatribe without challenge and continued, "But what Ehud Barak told me is that the existential threat to Israel is a potential one-state solution. And he's trying to convince people that your group, the Palestinian Authority, could be a partner, but Hamas isn't, obviously. How under threat are you by Hamas? And isn't he right?"

Predictably, Khatib pivoted to Israel rather than acknowledge any real responsibility on the part of Palestinian groups:

Yes, but there is some mixing between cause and effect here. Because the radicalization in the Palestinian authority and the rise of Hamas is a result of the failure of the peace process that the peace camp in Palestine have gambled on. And if there will be a hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, for example if Israel would stop the expansion of settlements and show signals towards possibility of ending the occupation, I think that will reverse the negative trends in the Palestinian public opinion and bring about again, strength to the moderate camp that has been losing ground because of the failure of the peace process that resulted from the Israeli settlement expansion, mainly.

Khatib's assertion, "the radicalization in the Palestinian Authority and the rise of Hamas is a result of the failure of the peace process," is problematic. First, Hamas' targeting of Jewish civilians is likely inevitable since it is part and parcel of its mission — as set out in its governing charter — to "fight the Jews and kill them" and to replace Israel with an Islamic state. According to the charter, any type of peace negotiation and diplomatic end to the conflict "stand in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement." Second, Khatib's rationale for PA violence is all too facile. The current matter of Palestinian violence – a now year-long spate of stabbings, shootings and car rammings is fueled by daily Palestinian incitement against Jews including by PA officials honoring terrorists.
 
The recent wave of terror began around the time that an incendiary declaration was broadcast to Palestinians. Among the sources reporting on this matter was the Wall Street Journal on Oct. 18, 2015: "Mr. Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, said the following on Palestinian television on Sept. 16: ‘We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah. With the help of Allah, every martyr will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward.'" Abbas has insisted that the recent Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis is a natural consequence of despair but the evidence shows that Palestinian incitement plays a major part in the phenomenon.

Unmentioned by Amanpour is that the Oslo Accords, an international agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, say nothing specifically about settlement growth in the West Bank (part of the ancient homeland of the Jewish people). Israel says settlements (Jewish communities) are not illegal, and no Israeli court has ruled them illegal. Moreover, the settlements comprise only six percent of the disputed territory and Israel in the 2008 two-state offer it made – and Palestinian leadership rejected – put forth the notion of compensating land swaps.

While the territory came under Israeli control as a result of the 1967 defensive Six-Day War, the West Bank was not, and still is not, the sovereign territory of any country. Jordan had occupied it between 1948 and 1967, in a move not recognized by the international community, and Israel and the PA contest the status of the territory, which under UN Security Resolutions 242 and 338 is to be resolved in negotiations.
 
September 30
 
In this segment, which commenced with a brief eulogy for Peres, Amanpour presented Tzipi Livni who, prompted by the host, claimed that the Netanyahu government "doesn't represent the idea of two states for two peoples." But Netanyahu has explicitly supported that concept as he awaits a meaningful response regarding negotiations from the Palestinian side. Meanwhile, his Palestinian counterpart Abbas has repeatedly and explicitly rejected the idea of two states for two peoples.
 
The host articulated the Palestinian position, "One of the things on the ground that the Palestinians have been saying even on these sad days is that the continued settlement building is just a major obstacle to any kind of trust building and peace." To support this position, Amanpour provided a video clip in which Mustafa Barghouti states,

But you have to understand that for many Palestinians and Arabs, I know it's a sad moment for the family of Mr. Peres and his colleagues, but Mr. Peres was a very controversial figure for Palestinians and Arabs. First of all, he is known to be responsible for the settlement policy. He was the first man who started settlements in occupied territories which are now the most important obstacle to peace.

Israeli settlements were created after the 1967 Six-Day War for security and ideological reasons and were supported by both of the major Israeli political parties, Labor and Likud. In many places, historic Jewish communities were re-established after having been destroyed by Arab fighters and prohibited to Jews during the Jordanian occupation of 1948-67. Regardless, as mentioned above, the settlements comprise only a tiny portion of the disputed territory.
 
Is CNN guilty of journalistic malpractice?
 
Why does CNN present here only critics of Israel's democratically elected government? What's the excuse for failing to present the views favored by most Israeli voters? Amanpour misrepresents by failing to state major obstacles to peace. First, the refusal by Palestinians to accept Israel as a Jewish state (evidently 22 Arab Muslim states is fine but one Jewish state is one too many) and second, the continued insistence on the so-called right of return of Palestinian Arabs to Israel which could result in the replacement of Israel by a 23rd Arab Muslim state. Third, there is no mention of the chronic indoctrination in Palestinian society of its populace from cradle to grave that Jews are not a people, do not deserve a state, have little or no historical ties to the land of Israel, have stolen Palestinian land, and are a legitimate target of deadly violence. The hatred is fueled by a steady stream of incitement from Palestinian media, mosques, and schools that underlies the conflict with Israel. There is nothing in Jewish society even remotely similar to this.
 
In a disservice to viewers, the network has provided a lead role in international reporting to Amanpour, an advocacy journalist, a blame-Israel recidivist, and one who has treaded all too softly on Islamism:

• In 2015, Amanpour used the inappropriate, misleading term "activists" to characterize the Islamist murderers who ended 12 peoples' lives on Jan 7, 2015 at Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper in Paris that published pictures of the Prophet Mohammed.

• Amanpour's programs often include mention of Israel and its alleged myriad faults. Her themes have included falsely likening Israel to apartheid South Africa. An example of this is in the coverage of a 2014 memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg. She drew what was supposed to be a key lesson from Mandela's leadership applicable to an intractable conflict of today. Not Syria's civil war, not Iraq's civil war nor any number of other bloody internecine conflicts, but to the Palestinian Arab conflict with Israel, in falsely equating the struggle of South African blacks to the travails of the Palestinian Arabs.

• In Amanpour's 2009 special, Generation Islam, (an investigation of the battle between extremists and moderates for the "hearts and minds" of young Muslims, especially in Afghanistan and Gaza), among the bad guys were the Jews of Israel for supposedly oppressing the Palestinians in Gaza, rather than the Islamists who rule Gaza, teaching hatred of Christians and Jews, and attacking Israeli civilians with suicide bombers and thousands of rockets. She offered not a single mention of the hate indoctrination specialized in by Hamas. 

• CNN's God's Warriors, hosted by Amanpour, was a 2007 three-part series that examined the growing role of religious fundamentalism in today's world. In the first part, Amanpour falsely equated Jewish (and Christian) religious fervency with Muslims endorsing "martyrdom," or suicide-killing. The series emphasized the alleged sins of the Jews and slurred Christians.
 
In presenting Middle East reports, CNN would do well to chose someone nowhere near as biased as Christiane Amanpour.

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