Prior to being given his own opinion show on MSNBC, Ayman Mohyeldin was perhaps best known for getting caught lying about a Palestinian terrorist being “not…particularly armed” even as video footage played on screen clearly showed the terrorist had been armed.
Yet, on Ayman’s show on April 8, the host deemed himself qualified to lecture “the West” for not telling the whole story about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to his satisfaction. According to Mohyeldin, the “hypocritical” West cares only about “Israeli rights,” but is “at a loss for words or any meaningful actions” when “Palestinian lives and rights are actually infringed upon.”
At CAMERA, we also believe in making sure the whole story is told accurately, which is why we have some concerns about Mohyeldin’s own biased narrative and material omissions.
Below are some of Mohyeldin’s decontextualized claims, followed by the important information that the host failed to provide to his viewers.
Mohyeldin’s Claim: “Palestinian militants fired rockets into Israel, and the Israeli military responded with its largest air strike assault on Lebanon in 17 years.”
Omitted Context: Palestinian terrorists fired rockets into Israel from Lebanon and Gaza. Furthermore, while Mohyeldin’s phrasing works to emphasize Israelis air strikes as the “largest air strike assault on Lebanon in 17 years,” the host notably omits that the rocket barrage from Lebanon was the “largest number of rockets fired from Lebanon since the 2006 war.”
Mohyeldin’s Claim: “Chaos unfolded in occupied East Jerusalem at the site of one of Islam’s holiest sites, the al-Aqsa compound.”
Omitted Context: The “al-Aqsa compound,” as Mohyeldin calls it, is known as the Temple Mount to the Jewish people and is their holiest site. Al-Aqsa mosque was built on the ruins of the Second Temple. For much of history, including those periods of control by Muslim powers, Jews have been forbidden from praying at their holiest site.
Mohyeldin’s Claim: “The Israeli military stormed the mosque, beating Palestinian worshippers and arresting hundreds it alleged were barricading themselves and stockpiling rocks and firecrackers inside.”
Omitted Context: Mohyeldin appears to have learned from his “not…particularly armed” incident by making sure the video being shown is carefully selected so as not to expose the deceptiveness of his claim. The host shows only video of Israeli police using batons on Palestinians in the mosque, notably refraining from showing the widely available video evidence of Palestinians using those “alleged” fireworks inside the mosque. Photo evidence was also made widely available of the stockpiling of rocks inside the mosque.
Also omitted by Mohyeldin was any context of why Israeli forces “stormed” the building. Palestinian threats of violence over the years (including massacres as far back as the 1920s) have helped maintain a “status quo” that denies religious freedom to Jews, who are prohibited from praying on the Temple Mount. Palestinian leadership regularly engages in efforts to deny any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount (e.g., a few days earlier, on April 1, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem “declared that the ‘blood of the martyr’ would light ignite the escalation of the ‘struggle’ against Israel’s policy of ‘Judaization’ and preserve the Palestinian-Arab-Islamic identity of al-Aqsa mosque”) and have even destroyed Jewish artifacts.
As part of the campaign to deny Jews access to their holiest site, Palestinian extremists regularly use the mosque as a launching point for violent attacks on Jews, including by throwing stones towards the Western Wall where Jewish worshippers are allowed to pray.
This is the context of the Israeli police raid referred to by Mohyeldin, which notably occurred as the Jewish holiday of Passover was set to begin. Despite an agreement between Israeli authorities and the Jordanian Waqf (which has authority over Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem) that there would be no overnight stays at al-Aqsa mosque so as to ensure the smooth and peaceful flow of worshippers and visitors of all faiths, Palestinian terrorist groups actively incited followers to violate that agreement.
Israeli police feared that the “group intended to assault Jews visiting the mount on Passover Eve,” and what was found in the mosque indicated those fears were not entirely unfounded. Indeed, events since then have further evidenced the use of the compound for violence, including video of Palestinians throwing stones (and even almost hitting Muslim worshippers). There is a reason, after all, that Jewish visitors at their holiest site need police escorts.
One need not agree with Israel’s policies, or how the operation was carried out on April 5, to understand why this context is important.
Mohyeldin’s Claim: “Imagine for a second with the world’s reaction would be if Russian storm troopers were seen beating Jewish worshippers with their rifles in a synagogue in Ukraine during Passover.”
Omitted Context: Let’s dispense with the obvious first. When pogroms targeted Jewish communities in Russia and Ukraine in the early 20th century, there was virtually no “world reaction.” Little imagination is needed when one can simply read history books for the answer.
Regardless, hypotheticals about what reactions would be to a hypothetical event are about as useful as a Rorschach test in telling us what the inkblot actually depicts. The answers tell us more about the person than they do about any objective truth.
Fortunately, though, we need not resort to hypotheticals to understand how Mohyeldin – who himself has a prominent platform on a major cable news network in “the West” – would react to such a scenario. Just three months ago, seven Israelis were massacred at a synagogue in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood of Jerusalem. How did Ayman respond to the incident? By changing the topic and reprehensibly drawing an equivalence between the deliberate murder of peaceful worshippers and those killed in counter-terror operations:
Just a reminder, as the Western media now begins to urgently and extensively cover the attacks in Jerusalem, in which at least 8 Israelis were killed, that 30 Palestinians (9 on Thursday alone) who have been killed in 2023.
— Ayman (@AymanM) January 27, 2023
Similarly, we can note the dearth of Mohyeldin’s coverage of Palestinians attacking Jewish worshippers at other holy sites. Seemingly every few months, Palestinian terrorists attack Jewish worshippers visiting Joseph’s Tomb or vandalize the site. While the author of this article cannot claim to have watched every moment of Mohyeldin’s show, it seems a safe bet that Mohyeldin has carefully steered clear of covering such incidents.
Mohyeldin’s Claim: “Perhaps nothing illustrates Israel’s apartheid more clearly than simply comparing the behaviour of its security forces towards Palestinians and Israelis just in the past few weeks, when Israel’s far right government introduced measures to overhaul its judiciary to effectively weaken and hobble the country’s Supreme Court. The country was brought to a standstill by massive protests, union strikes and acts of civil disobedience that disrupted daily life. Consider this: did we see anyone brutalized by the Israeli police?”
Omitted Context: The Israeli Jews and Arabs protesting against the government’s judicial reform proposals have done so in a peaceful manner. Few, if any, violent incidents have been reported. By contrast, violent Palestinian riots are commonplace on the Temple Mount. It should be an uncontroversial proposition that police responses to peaceful protests will be different than police responses to violent riots, as occurred in the mosque.
Moreover, Israel’s comparative treatment of Palestinians and Israelis has nothing to do with “apartheid,” which is about racial groups, not about distinctions between citizens (Israelis) and non-citizens (Palestinians), which are expressly excluded from the international treaty on racial discrimination for obvious reasons.
Mohyeldin’s Claim: “But when this same government, one made-up of religious extremists and far right zealots…”
Omitted Context: Mohyeldin is certainly entitled to his opinion about the nature of Israel’s government. But whereas Mohyeldin decries the “muted” reaction of “the West” to these alleged sinful characteristics of the Israeli government, it is worth noting the nature of the other entities involved in the situation.
For example, Hamas, the designated terrorist organization and de facto government of the Gaza Strip, which has been inciting violence in Jerusalem, is governed by a notoriously antisemitic charter which accuses Jews (not Israelis; Jews) of all manner of conspiracies and which calls for violence against them.
The Palestinian Authority is headed by Mahmoud Abbas, who has been repeatedly caught engaging in Holocaust denial and minimization, which was even the theme of his 1982 dissertation. Abbas himself has played a direct role in inciting violence in Jerusalem, once having declared: “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 continued, declaring that all Jerusalem’s holy sites “are all ours, and they [the Jews] have no right to defile them with their filthy feet.” For years the PA has also operated the “pay-for-slay” program, which provides financial rewards for terrorists and their families. More recently, numerous PA officials have been stoking the flames by rejecting any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount.
Even the Jordanians, who have authority over the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem via the Waqf, are not innocent. King Abdullah II of Jordan himself stoked the flames of violence, proclaiming that it was “the duty of every Muslim to deter Israeli escalations against…holy sites in Jerusalem.”
Yet, as a prominent media figure in “the West,” Mohyeldin has been mostly (if not entirely) quiet about these “religious extremists and far right zealots.” It would seem that whatever standard Mohyeldin is applying against the Jewish state, that standard is not then also employed against the other parties to the relevant dispute. Indeed, Mohyeldin does not even seem to hold himself to that standard, given some of his own recent rhetoric overtly justifying xenophobia.
This gets to the overall problem with Mohyeldin’s rant. His own behavior exhibits particularly extreme forms of the exact same failures he argues discredit “the West” in covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While he speaks passionately for Palestinian lives and rights, one finds, in his own words, that he “is suddenly at a loss for words or any meaningful actions” when Israeli lives and rights are threatened.
Mohyeldin’s own history makes it clear that the last person who should be lecturing anyone about not telling the whole story is Mohyeldin himself.