CNN’s Amanpour Continues To Mislead About Israel

Roger Cohen, Mohammad Shtayyeh, Itzhak Perlman, Ayelet Gundar-Goshen and Diana Buttu each appeared separately with Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s Chief International Correspondent, in recent broadcasts that included numerous misrepresentations of Israel’s aims and actions.

In fact, for the several years Amanpour has reported on Israel, a particular narrative has dominated those reports. 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 Israel is found on CAMERA’s Amanpour page.

July 10, 2019 guest: Roger Cohen, New York Times columnist.

The segment discussed the recent economic conference in Bahrain promoting a U.S. sponsored $50 billion economic plan intended to double the size of the Palestinian economy, create one million new jobs, reduce Palestinian unemployment from 30 percent to single digits, and reduce Palestinian poverty by 50 percent.

Prompted by Amanpour, Cohen claimed:

Prime Minister Netanyahu with the help of President Trump is hoping against hope that he can impose some kind of peace plan with Palestinians that would leave them with some tiny fragment of the West Bank and they would accept.

Typically for Amanpour and Cohen, no substantiation is provided for this claim disparaging Israel and U.S. policy.

Read CNN’s transcript.

Although they are in dire economic straits, the Palestinians angrily rejected the economic plan. Are they angry mainly because the plan is allegedly insufficient economically? No, the anger seems to be mainly related to the Palestinian dominant culture’s Islamist brainwashing cloaked in nationalism (more below).

Cohen’s history of misreporting about Israel includes: In July 2014, CAMERA documented Cohen’s distortions of reports from Israeli sources. In November 2009, Cohen significantly misstated the Oslo Accords’ position regarding settlements and he erred about the Security Barrier. In July 2007, Cohen falsely portrayed Israel as violating U.N. resolutions, and falsely portrayed the Palestinians as opposing suicide bombings and favoring a two-state solution.

June 24, 2019 guest: Mohammad Shtayyeh, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister.

Amanpour provided some appropriate questions and points, including:

Why would you [the Palestinian Authority] boycott an event [Bahrain conference] that is designed simply to explore, remember it’s called a workshop, the opportunity to give billions of dollars, tens of billions of dollars, $50 billion to your people and the Palestinian Authority?

[…]

[Y]ou say you don’t have an economic problem. And yet, you yourself have told the New York Times and others that, “The Palestinian Authority is collapsing financially… could be bankrupt by July or August.”

[…]

[ The U.S. position is that the plan deals with] the aspirations of the people versus your aspirations, the leadership aspirations.

Shtayyeh’s lengthy repetitive responses included,

The financial crisis that we are in has to do with the Israeli measures imposed …and the financial war … declared by this American administration on the Palestinian people, on the Palestinian authority … the Palestinian people are living under the settler colonial regime of the State of Israel. In order for the Palestinians to live in a prosperous situation, we need to be independent…

What will be presented has nothing to do with reality, it has nothing to do with settlements, it has nothing to do with occupation, it has nothing to do with the Palestinians not having any access to their land or their water. Palestinians have no control over their resources…

This financial siege that we are in has been imposed by both Israel and the United States… We are in difficult situation. It’s simply because our money is blocked somewhere there in Israel… The problem can easily be solved by ending occupation…

Everybody is united behind the Palestinian president who officially declared that this is not in the interest of the Palestinian people… we are not looking for additional loaf of bread. We are looking for dignity, we are looking for freedom, liberty, living independent state in an independent sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital and a settlement for the Palestinian refugee problem…

And now, the Americans they want to put us in a blame game. We are in principle rejecting what is happening in Bahrain. We are in principle rejecting the move of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. We are in principle rejecting that Jerusalem is the united capital for the Jewish people. Jerusalem is an occupied territory…

Read CNN’s transcript.

Refuting Shtayyeh

While asking some pertinent questions, Amanpour failed to provide needed context and failed to interrupt or challenge Shtayyeh’s several lengthy propagandistic claims.

• Shtayyeh demands an “independent sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital.” But the Palestinians have repeatedly turned down offers providing for this.

• Shtayyeh states, “Everybody is united behind the Palestinian president who officially declared that this [economic plan] is not in the interest of the Palestinian people.” Indeed, this seems to be true regarding the long-tenured Mahmoud Abbas who ran for election only once (September 2008), remaining in power ever since, and who reflects the Islamist dominant culture. For example, Abbas has shown that the hatred of Israel and Jews is largely Islamism-based. As is noted in a Wall Street Journal report  on Oct. 18, 2015, Abbas is shown on P.A. television uttering an Islamist prayer to Allah, “We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every Martyr will reach Paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah. The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is ours, and they [the Jews] have no right to defile them with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.”

• Shtayyeh complains about settlements and “occupation”. Here’s the reality: Israel took control of the territory of the West Bank (part of ancient Israel) as a result of successful self-defense in the 1967 Six-Day War. 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 until 1967, when Israel took control. Meanwhile, Israel remains the legal, obligatory military occupational authority in the West Bank pending conclusion of a negotiated agreement on the territories’ final status. Furthermore, the West Bank Palestinians are self-governing with Israeli personnel only entering Palestinian communities to pursue terrorists.

The notion that the settlements are a main obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians is a non-starter. First, the Arabs consistently refused to consider peace with the Israelis prior to the initiation of the settlements enterprise which took place only after the culmination of the 1967 War. Second, these settlements have never constituted more than only six percent of the total land mass of the entire West Bank.

• Shtayyeh demands a “settlement for the Palestinian refugee problem.” Here’s the reality: The Palestinians insist that Israel must accept a “right of return” (that does not exist in international law) for millions of Arabs (nearly all of whom have never lived in Israel) which would inevitably result in the Jewish state becoming not viable. Furthermore, the actual refugee situation is – 850,000 Jews were expelled from their Arab dominant countries following the rebirth of the state of Israel; roughly 600,000-700,000 Palestinians fled their homes during the Arab-Israeli war. The Jews are not invoking a “right of return.” So there seems to be a trade-off here.

June 20, 2019 guest: Itzhak Perlman, famous Israeli violinist.

Amanpour chatted with Perlman about his music and his family until she transitioned to something much different. She initiated a discussion about politics and “walls,” falsely grouping the wall on the U.S. southern border and Israel’s “wall” (the Security Barrier along Israel’s West Bank border) with the infamous Berlin Wall. Perlman declined Amanpour’s invitation to denounce the Security Barrier. 

I want to talk politics at the end of this. You have stopped doing some concerts because of the politics involved. You dropped out of the North Carolina concert because of the Hb2 law and that`s the one that limits civil rights protections for the LGBTQ community. I want to play a little clip of the great cellist Rostropovich who played by the Berlin Wall as it was coming down all those years ago, in 1989 and then I want to ask you a question (video clip). I mean that was a great moment. It was a political moment but it was a moment of hope. Do you remember seeing that?

Perlman replied,

I did not see it, but I was actually in Germany at the time that the Wall was coming down, and I played actually in the east part of Berlin. We did a little something. So I remember those times very well.

Amanpour responded,

And I wonder, walls are making a comeback. I mean, there`s the obvious problem with the border between the United States and Mexico, and then there`s your own home country, the wall [Security Barrier] between Israel and Palestine. Would you ever do that today? I mean is that the kind of political activism that you think might have an effect? Would you go to that wall and play?

Perlman failed to take the bait,

I have not thought about any political activity. I just want to do what I do in music and so on. So this never occurred to me and so I can`t answer your question because it just did not occur. It has — the situation has to be right. And so far — you know, would you do it? I was never asked. So, anyway, I try to really stay away from politics unless I strongly believe — the situation in Israel is very, very complicated, extremely complicated. I`m just watching it. And I`m just hoping like everybody else that things will get better. All I can do is hope.

Read CNN’s transcript.

Unsurprisingly, Amanpour fails to inform viewers of the reasons for Israel’s Security Barrier. The Barrier was constructed in response to the “al-Aqsa intifada,” the 2000-2004 Palestinian terror war in which more than 1,000 Israelis – Jewish and Arabs, more than three-fourths of them non-combatants – and foreign visitors were murdered by Palestinian terrorists  crossing unimpeded from the West Bank. The barrier’s completion has contributed significantly to the roughly 95 percent decrease in lethal attacks from the area.

May 31, 2019 guest: Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, Israeli psychologist. 

Amanpour promoted Gundar-Goshen’s false theory that alleges that the Israelis suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) cynically exploited by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and this is the reason that the peace process with the Palestinians has failed.

This isn’t the first time Amanpour has participated in smearing Netanyahu. For example, as documented in a 1996 CAMERA report, Amanpour described Netanyahu again and again as having “played on people’s fears.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, the medical definition of PTSD includes symptoms such as “hopelessness about the future” and “difficulty experiencing positive emotions.” But polling data consistently shows Israelis to be among the most positive and happy people in the world. For example, Gallup polling in 2019 shows that Israel is the 13th happiest country in the world, ahead of Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, the United States and 137 other countries; the same Gallup poll in 2018 had similar results.

However, it’s entirely reasonable for Israelis to be highly pessimistic about the chances for genuine peace with a society, the Palestinians, whose people are incited from cradle to grave to hate and harm Jews. It’s a society that honors and rewards those who injure and kill Jewish civilians. Read more.

April 3, 2019 guest: Diana Buttu, Palestinian-Canadian lawyer.

Amanpour had Buttu follow rather than precede the previous guest, Israeli spokesman, Danny Danon, Permanent Israeli Representative to the U.N., thereby depriving viewers of the opportunity to see a meaningful  challenge of Buttu’s propagandistic claims. Buttu is described here as a “human rights lawyer” and “former legal advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)” which runs the Palestinian Authority West Bank government under Mahmoud Abbas.

In introducing Buttu, Amanpour erroneously stated, “she joins me from Haifa on the West Bank.” This is a curious error for a chief foreign correspondent and former resident of Israel since Haifa, Israel’s third-most populous city (280,000), is clearly not located on the West Bank.

Buttu expressed farcical outrage at a myriad of alleged misdeeds by Israel and the United States,

I actually don’t think there really is a [Bahrain conference] plan. I think what we’re seeing right now is the implementation of Trump’s wishes … and Netanyahu’s wishes and Netanyahu’s desires. We’ve seen everything from the declaration that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, the movement of the embassy, paring down in terms of refugees, cutting off aid to UNRWA.

We’ve seen that they’ve shut down the office of the PLO in the United States. And we’ve even seen that the United States is supporting the annexation of the Golan Heights… Next thing we know that it will be allowed for Crimea to annexed, we will then see that settlements will be allowed to be legal.

[…]

All the Palestinians have been demanding for the past 50 years is that they want their freedom and only their freedom. And yet, when we see that administration after administration is not only not giving us our freedom but rewarding Israel for violating international law, it says a lot about where the U.S. is and what the U.S. vision is for this region.

Amanpour put Buttu on the spot about payments to terrorists,

Diana, can I just put to you what Ambassador Danon said to me. As you know, Prime Minister Netanyahu whose rhetoric and his government’s rhetoric is that we don’t have a partner of peace, that Mahmoud Abbas does not represent the Palestinians or the furthermore, he gives tens of billions or millions of dollars to what they [the Israelis] call terrorists. How do you answer that and how much of that should worry you and should worry that leadership? Should there be a change in how the budgets and those kinds of funds are allocated, if that is the case?

Amanpour says, “… to what they [the Israelis] call terrorists.” Why does Amanpour pose the question in this limiting way? By definition, anyone who attacks Jews – only because they are Jews – in the pursuit of Islamist or nationalist goals – is a terrorist. This clearly describes the numerous Palestinian attackers. The U.S. government definition of terrorist includes, one who commits “violent acts or acts dangerous to human life” in order to “intimidate or coerce a civilian population.”

Buttu’s response was one of evasion,

Well, I think it’s first important to step back and look at who Prime Minister Netanyahu is and what his position has been. Since he’s taken office, he has allowed the Israeli settlement industry to soar, there have been more settlements that have been put up in his time than in any other time that preceded him. He’s a man who has never believed in Palestinian freedom.

[…]

We should be focusing on Israel and its continued occupation and its continued denial of freedom rather than focusing on who the Palestinian leadership is. I’m not a fan of this leadership, but it’s for us to be choosing it’s not for Israel to be choosing our leaders.

Amanpour persisted about funding terrorists,

And just briefly, to answer that question [about funding terrorists] that they always say and that is where these funds from the Palestinian authority are being allocated.

Buttu again evaded,

In terms of their funds of the Palestinian authority, I’m not part of the Palestinian government so I can’t speak definitively to this. What I can say from the research that I’ve done on this is that the vast majority of the money that they claim is being allocated to families is actually not, a lot of it is going to pay the legal fees of individuals and a lot of money is going into actually subsidize the Israeli prison system. I don’t know the specifics about the budget itself. So, I can’t really speak definitively to that since I’m not part of the government.

What does Buttu mean about “subsidizing the Israeli prison system?” The question is not asked.

Read CNN’s transcript.

Debunking Buttu:

• Regarding Buttu’s objection to the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the embassy there: Previously, Israel was alone among the nations in not having its chosen capital recognized as such by the nations. This travesty was apparently related to the fact that the Palestinians claim eastern Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. There had been decades long controversy surrounding U.S. Presidents’ persistent refusals – violating a Congressional mandate – to relocate the U.S. embassy from the city of Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem. The refusals were due mainly to indulging the Palestinian leadership and pressure from Arab and other Islamic states driven by the Islamic supercessionist dynamic. Another factor had been the influence of the traditionally anti-Israel Arabist U.S. State Department.

Jerusalem has been a capital city only of the Jewish people – no other people – at any time in the past 3,000 years. Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest city, is mentioned more than 600 times in the Hebrew Bible (“Old Testament”). It is mentioned more than 100 times in the New Testament but It is not mentioned even once in Islam’s bible, the Quran (Koran). It was the capital city of ancient Jewish kingdoms and home to Judaism’s holiest place, the Temple. Jews from all over the ancient world would make pilgrimages to the Temple three times a year to participate in worship and festivities, as commanded in the Bible. The Jewish wedding ceremony concludes with the chanting of the biblical phrase, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning,” and the breaking of a glass by the groom to commemorate the destruction of the Temples. And Yom Kippur services and the Passover Seder conclude each year with the phrase “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

Why then is Jerusalem a non-negotiable requirement for the Palestinians as a capital including control of the Temple Mount?  Why not Ramallah as the capital, the current Palestinian Authority seat of government?  Could the frenzy be related to Bible prophecies regarding the future arrival of the Messiah to Jerusalem to the holiest site, the Temple Mount? Could there be a belief that this event could somehow be thwarted by Islamists if they control the Temple Mount?

• Buttu’s complaint of “paring down in terms of refugees, cutting off aid to UNRWA” is apparently about U.S. financial cuts to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that serves only one group of refugees, the Palestinians. All other refugee populations in the world fall under the jurisdiction of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). But Instead of helping resettle Palestinian refugees, UNRWA schools and facilities have been used to promote hatred and murder of Israelis.

• Concerning the Golan: Buttu falsely equates Israel’s defensive action regarding the Golan Heights to Russia’s aggression in its seizure of Crimea.  Here are the facts: Prior to Israel’s success in its defensive Six-Day War of 1967, including gaining control of the Golan, the Syrian military had repeatedly used the plateau of the Heights to lob shells down on Israeli civilians residing in Galilee towns of Israel. False claims are made that Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights violates international laws and resolutions condemning the acquisition of territory by war. But this applies only to offensive wars.

Currently, if Israel were to lose control of the Golan, the area would be undefended against the predations of Syria’s ally Iran which is intent on destroying the Jewish nation-state. As legal scholar Alan Dershowitz observed recently, “No country in history has ever given back to a sworn enemy, militarily essential territory that has been captured in a defensive war” (Alan M. Dershowitz, “Trump Is Right about the Golan Heights,” Gatestone Institute, March 30, 2019).

Furthermore, the historical/biblical reality is that ancient Jewish Israeli communities existed in the Golan long before any Arab communities existed there.

• Buttu evades the issue of the P.A.  funding of terrorists but the facts are known.  It is official P.A. policy to pay terrorists and their families generously for committing attacks.

Concluding

While occasionally asking important questions, Amanpour’s Israel-related presentations lack needed context and she typically fails to challenge or interrupt lengthy propagandistic responses (the Buttu segment partially excepted). And Amanpour’s selection and handling of guests tend to mislead viewers about Israel as do many of her comments. So viewers should be wary.