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Media Analyses





C-SPANís Book TV Show Spins Anti-Israel Line


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C-SPAN, the cable television industry's public affairs network, has a Jewish problem. Made plain by the chronic indulgence of anti-Jewish, anti-Israel callers to the daily Washington Journal program, defamation of Israel and its supporters has seeped into C-SPAN's Book TV show as well. A case in point was Book TV's July 1 "interview" by Phyllis Bennis (of the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies) of the anti-Israel academic Fawaz Gerges from the London School of Economics. Gerges promoted his new book Obama and the Middle East: The End of America's Moment?

CAMERA's three-year-long C-SPAN Watch survey has demonstrated that Washington Journal hosts permit no other country or religious or ethnic minority to be vilified repeatedly as are Jews and the Jewish state. Now the Bennis-Gerges effort becomes Book TV's second such recent anti-Israel gang-up.

A previous program paired antagonists of Israel, Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan, on Nov. 20 2011. And Book TV producers should have known what they were getting with Gerges, who was recently paired in an anti-Israel discussion on National Public Radio on May 21, 2012. The Nader-Buchanan program blamed Israel for the failure to achieve a peace agreement with the Palestinian Arabs (the May 21 NPR Rehm-Gerges program also blamed Israel).Yet going back to June 2003, one can not find a Book TV program pairing an author and a guest who blame the Arabs for failing to achieve a peace agreement in the conflict with Israel.
 
Bennis-Gerges team's recurring conspiracy-theory theme, especially during the first third of the July 1 broadcast, alleges a "dysfunctional American political system" – in which foreign policy is controlled by special-interest groups (i.e. pro-Israel) – that American governments have long been unwilling to confront. Both Bennis and Gerges link this to what they claim is the disastrous failure of American governments to confront Israeli leaders, especially President Obama versus Benjamin Netanyahu. The point of such a confrontation, according to host and guest, would be to force Israel to accede to Palestinian demands. This supposedly could bring about a "two-state solution" even though Palestinian leaders have rejected just such Israeli-U.S. and Israeli offers in 2000, 2001 and 2008.
 
Gerges falsely charges Israel as potential holocaust perpetrator

Gerges, falsely transforming the Jewish nation that includes many Holocaust survivors and their children into a potential holocaust perpetrator, warns of an allegedly dreadful outcome if America doesn't force Israel to accept Palestinian demands: "The United States has an obligation to save Israel from a very particular point of view that unless they take into account, basically, the right and the obligations of the Palestinians, and at the end of the day acknowledge them as a separate community, you might end up with a one state solution or a mini-holocaust [of the Palestinians at the hands of Israelis]..." Even for Bennis, this is too much. She mildly dissents, "I don't see that as a possibility."

Bennis falsely claims the settlements are illegal
 
But having approached reality with her mild dissent, Bennis retreats. She falsely blames Jewish settlers for the failure to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian "two-state solution" and erroneously criminalizes Jews residing in the heartland of ancient Israel, Judea and Samaria, renamed the West Bank by Jordan in the 1950s, "Now there is a question as to whether there's a possibility of a two-state solution as an option given the expansion of the settlements. Now there are 650,000 Israeli settlers who are breaking the law every morning just by waking up because they are in the land ...."

But the claim is false: Israeli settlements are not "illegal under international law." Stating Israeli settlements are "illegal under international law" is a false Palestinian claim that grossly misrepresents U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, on which all successful Arab-Israeli negotiations since the 1967 Six-Day War have been based.

Resolution 242 clearly avoids stating Israel must withdraw from all of the territories gained in this war. The resolution stipulates rather that Israel withdraw from some of the disputed territory, but not necessarily all. Former U.S. Undersecretary of State Eugene Rostow, one of the drafters of the resolution, has commented on the this fact relative to the resolution's wording: Motions to require the withdrawal of Israel from "the" territories or "all the territories" occupied in the course of the Six Day War were put forward many times with great linguistic ingenuity. They were all defeated both in the General Assembly and in the Security Council.

Security Council Resolution 242 remains the basis for subsequent peace plans including the Israeli-Palestinian 1993 Oslo accords that requires only Israeli military withdrawal from unspecified portions of territory gained in self-defense in 1967, and Israel has already withdrawn from most of the territory – the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip.

In addition, the most relevant international law, the League of Nations' Palestine Mandate, Article 6, encourages "close Jewish settlement on the land" west of the Jordan River and that Article 6 is incorporated by Article 80, the so-called "Palestine article" of the U.N. Charter. The United States upheld the Mandate, including Article 6, when Congress approved the Anglo-American Convention of 1924. Assertions that Jewish communities in the West Bank and Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem are "illegal under international law" are political and propagandistic in nature, regardless of who makes them, but not legal or binding.
 
Bennis and Gerges ignore Palestinian Arabs' violations of peace agreements

Team Bennis-Gerges gives an unwarranted pass to the Palestinian Arabs and their leaders for failing to honor their obligations under agreements aimed at achieving peace. For example, the Palestinian Authority has been in violation of key requirements of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Accords, including those to dismantle the anti-Israel terrorist infrastructure, end anti-Israel incitement and resolve all outstanding issues through negotiations. Meanwhile, the charters of both major movements of the Palestinian Arabs – Fatah and Hamas – call for the elimination of Israel. This puts them on the wrong side of the U.N. Charter since they vow aggression against a member of the United Nations. But the world body, which maintains anti-Israel agencies such as the "Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People" as constituent elements violates its own charter daily when it comes to Israel, a point neither Bennis nor Gerges mentions.

Contrary to Gerges' ostensible concern about Israel perpetrating a holocaust against Palestinian Arabs (whose numbers and standard of living have grown dramatically since 1967), it has been Palestinian Authority leaders who've insisted in recent years that any West Bank and Gaza Strip "Palestine" must be free of Jews. This while 20 percent of Israeli citizens are Arabs with equal civil rights. Again, Bennis and her guest, obsessed with non-existent dangers posed by Israel, miss a real Arab-Israeli stumbling block.

Palestinian incitement to hatred and violence against Israel and Jews continues in violation of Article 26 (2) of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as in violation of Israeli-Palestinian agreements. Article 26 (2)] implicitly condemns incitement to hatred/violence against other ethnic/religious groups in textbooks but Palestinian textbooks inculcate such hostility against Jews and Israel. The U.N. Commission on Human Rights resolution 2003/37 (No. 4) "Condemns incitement of ethnic hatred, violence and terrorism." Regardless, the P.A. continues its hate-indoctrination causing the U.S. State Department, if not Bennis and Gerges, to take notice.

Bennis, ignoring real problems that have actually put American soldiers at risk, from abuses perpetrated by a few troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to widespread anti-Western, anti-American hostility in the "greater Middle East," alleges, "Our American soldiers there are at risk because of Israeli actions." Gerges reinforces this allegation, asserting that "our [American] generals said there is critical danger to American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq [due to Israeli actions]." But this allegation has been debunked.
 
The hour-long Bennis-Gerges program can be viewed here.

C-SPAN's major patrons and chief executives

C-SPAN's public affairs broadcasting mission has long been undermined by its Jewish problem including the failure of the Washington Journal daily public affairs and call-in show to challenge the allegations of antisemitic, anti-Zionist callers. C-SPAN's major patrons, giving the network a free pass for too many years, include Comcast, the largest cable television provider in the country. Neil_Smit@cable.comcast.com is the e-mail address of Neil Smit, President of Comcast Cable and most prominent member of C-SPAN's five-member Board of Directors executive committee. Another prominent member of this five-member group is Glenn Britt, Chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable, who can be reached at glenn.britt@timewarnercable.com. Courteous, concise e-mails should urge Comcast and Time Warner Cable to make clear to C-SPAN that it must correct Washington Journal and now apparently Book TV's tolerance and dissemination of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish canards. C-SPAN's chief executives are Susan Swain (sswain@c-span.org) and Rob Kennedy (rkennedy@c-span.org).

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