For the several years that Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s Chief International Correspondent, has reported on Israel, a particular narrative has dominated. For example, CAMERA documented in 2010 how Amanpour has “an impulse to smear Israel … inject[ing] mention of Israel and its alleged myriad faults.” A long list — going back to 1996 — of Amanpour’s misreporting about the Jewish state is found on CAMERA’s Amanpour page.
Amanpour’s broadcasts air on Monday through Friday on CNN, but they also air on PBS stations across the United States as Amanpour & Company.
Two recent segments demonstrate the correspondent’s tendency to serve up Israel-disparaging spin.
Aug. 2, 2019 broadcast segment dealing with an Israeli film
Amanpour tried to lead two Israeli guests into condemning their country for the alleged mistreatment of Israel’s Ethiopian Jews and also for the creation of the security barrier at the West Bank. The Israelis, director Gideon Raff and a former Mossad agent named “Daniel,” were on the show to promote their 2019 Netflix spy film “The Red Sea Diving Resort.” The movie is a fictionalized account of “Operation Brothers,” Israel’s 1980s effort to rescue thousands of Ethiopian Jews who were fleeing famine and war.
Following discussion of the film, Amanpour got to her first point:
We’ve seen lots of pictures of the subsequent arrivals, right. So you see these pictures of Ethiopians in the ’90s getting off the planes [in Israel] and being so thrilled. And a lot of observers, and in fact, a lot of Ethiopian Jews themselves say the highlight, the greatest celebration, the best moment was their arrival date. And it’s kind of gone downhill from there.
You know, there’s a lot of complaints and protests and complaints about being treated unfairly. There were recently protests because a young teenager of Ethiopian descent was shot in Israel. Just talk to me, Gideon, about the promise that was maybe betrayed somewhat for the Ethiopian Jews.
Raff failed to take the bait:
The Ethiopian Jews have, for thousands of years, dreamt of coming to Jerusalem to a place that they thought was perfect. And I think in recent weeks we see that the Ethiopians are fighting to make that place as perfect as they were dreaming about. They are fighting to end discrimination. They are fighting to end bigotry. They’re fighting to get equality.
And I can’t think of a more noble and just cause for their struggle. I think, you know, civil rights are taken, not really given. And I think the Ethiopian community is on the way to achieving what they wanted in making the society better and more equal for all of us.
Amanpour directed the same point to Daniel:
Daniel, do you believe that the government and the state of Israel need to treat these Ethiopian Jews — who you risked your life to bring to Israel, who risked their own lives — do you believe the state needs to do better; to step up and make them equal citizens under the law?
Contrary to Amanpour’s misleading assertion, the Ethiopian Jews are indeed “equal citizens under the law.”
Daniel failed to take the bait:
I’ve been involved with the Ethiopian Jewish community since the time when I was participating, I was commanding those operations. So I know how difficult it is for them to integrate for many reasons. But I’ve seen and I can see now how good they’re doing. You know, you don’t hear about the engineers, and the lawyers, and the doctors and the businessmen and high tech people but that’s the majority of them.
Now, of course, Israel is a melting pot like the United States used to be. It’s a melting pot. People are coming from so many parts of the world. It’s not easy to live together. And you know, I’m sure you know under which conditions, the Israeli state is living with not many friends around. So everything has an influence.I think, you know, it’s not a question. I’m not defending the government or attacking them. I think the government is doing whatever it can and it depends more on the people themselves to be tolerant and to love each other, you know, and it will happen. It’s happening. That’s my belief.
• But the reality concerning Ethiopian Jews is different from what Amanpour would have viewers believe:
The Jewish state absorbed 25,000 Ethiopian Jews that it saved from religious oppression, war and famine in 1984, 1985 and 1991 in dramatic large-scale, secret airlifts. And they now reside in Israel with full citizenship rights. As the late New York Times columnist William Safire memorably wrote on Jan. 7, 1985: “For the first time in history, thousands of black people are being brought to a country not in chains but in dignity, not as slaves but as citizens.”
There have been some problems from time to time – including some racial tensions – but significant progress has been made – especially among Ethiopian Israelis born in the Jewish state. Education is the key to success for the Ethiopians and it’s happening. As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz points out, “90 percent of the younger generation [of Ethiopians] has a high-school education, almost the same percentage as the Jewish population in general (93 percent) and three times the percentage of first-generation Ethiopians in Israel (36 percent) … Fifty five percent of Ethiopian university graduates are employed in high-quality positions, like the figure for the Jewish population in general.”
Unsurprisingly, Amanpour puts a negative spin on the complex Ethiopian-Israeli story.
Amanpour next touched on the world’s refugee problem. Raff generalized, “[we need to] help each other and not to erect walls but to actually build bridges.” Amanpour took that as an opportunity to negatively portray Israel’s security barrier,
And Daniel, because, obviously, not to make too fine of a point of it but Israel erected one of the biggest most visible walls between itself and the West Bank. When you see that line in the film where a female colleague is depicted as saying we’re all just refugees, aren’t we? What was your message?
Daniel’s response omitted mention of the security barrier.
• The reality about the security barrier:
The purpose of Israel’s security barrier is to prevent Palestinian terrorists from murdering Israelis. It was constructed in response to the “al-Aqsa intifada (2000-05),” in which Palestinian terrorists crossing from the West Bank murdered more than 1,000 Israelis – the majority non-combatants. The barrier has contributed significantly to the roughly 95 percent decrease in terror attacks emanating from from the West Bank.
Read CNN’s transcript for the August 2 broadcast.
July 30, 2019 broadcast segment with the U.S. ambassador to Israel
The conversation with the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, showcases Amanpour’s anti-Israel bias. The interview was initially about the recent U.S. economic plan for the Middle East, but became contentious when Amanpour brought up the situation of a newly opened tunnel in an ancient road containing important archaeological finds. The tunnel runs well underneath the Wadi Hiweh mainly Arab neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem in the Silwan section.
According to the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, “The ‘Path of the Pilgrim’ is an excavation of a large underground archeological site that has been going on for the last six years in collaboration between the Elad Association, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Nature and Parks Authority… [but] the Palestinian Authority claims [that] this historic event [the tunnel opening ceremony] supports ‘Judaization’ of Jerusalem — an act of hostility vs. Palestinians.” Amanpour accusingly implied that the Palestinians were unnecessarily and intentionally provoked:
I just want to show some video because it’s interesting. It’s you with a sledgehammer just recently, sort of breaking ground, if you like, of that tunnel that runs under a Palestinian village in East Jerusalem, and just ask you to comment on why you would be doing that, why you support and even donate to settlements which are considered illegal under international law, and the U.S. has policy that the ambassador to Israel should not visit settlements in the West Bank. Why do you think you can keep doing these things in contravention of U.S. law?
Unsurprisingly, Amanpour uses misleading jargon antithetical to Israel, “Palestinian village in East Jerusalem.” Since the Israelis consider all of Jerusalem as part of Israel, it is erroneous to refer to an Arab area there as Palestinian. And there is no such place as “East Jerusalem,” when referring to eastern Jerusalem.
Friedman refuted the CNN star’s distortions and false claims,
You’ve made about six assumptions there. Every one of which, respectfully is wrong. First of all, I’m the United States ambassador to Israel. My area of responsibility extends to Israel inside the green line to the West Bank and to Gaza. So it’s my area of responsibility to go anywhere. That is the United States policy.
Amanpour in an apparent disconnect said, “No, I said the settlements.”
The settlements are part of the West Bank. It’s part of my responsibility. Anywhere in the West Bank is under my area of responsibility. Number two, that was an incredible heritage site. That was a discovery of the pilgrimage road from the bathing pool at the bottom of the ancient Temple, a road that went all the way up to the Temple.
It was a road where Jesus walked, with great religious and historical significance. It was an incredible archaeological discovery, discovered by secular archaeologist and it’s a matter of great interest to the American people. Many, many tens of millions of Americans found this very interesting. And I was attending the opening of this great incredible archaeological discovery, which by the way was so far below the homes of the residents, 60, 70 feet, it had no impact on them whatsoever.
Amanpour concluded, “All right. Well, just as some would ask, why do that at a time like this? But listen, you’ve answered the question. We’re grateful that you’ve been with us tonight.”
If Friedman had been accorded additional time he could have responded to Amanpour’s misleading assertion that the settlements are “considered illegal under international law.” Note that the United States, while criticizing the existence of at least some settlements from time to time, does not consider them illegal.
• The existence of the settlements is not illegal: Basic international law in this case, the League of Nations’ Palestine Mandate, Article 6, calls for “close Jewish settlement” on the land west of the Jordan River. Article 6 is incorporated by Article 80 of the U.N. Charter, sometimes referred to as “the Palestine article.” The United States endorsed the mandate, including Article 6, in the 1924 Anglo-American Convention. The West Bank is not sovereign territory of any country, but rather land disputed by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It was illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967, when Israel took control as a result of successful self-defense in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Read CNN’s transcript for the July 30 broadcast.
When it comes to Israel, Amanpour’s presentations lack essential context. The CNN host frequently asks “questions” which are meant to reinforce her own anti-Israel viewpoint. Her viewers should be questioning whether they’re getting anywhere near the full truth about the Jewish nation.