C-SPAN Repeatedly Passes off Palestinian Propaganda Film as Factual Documentation

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C-SPAN’s voiceover introduction to the film

On June 7 [2017], the Washington Post reported the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, while visiting Jerusalem, said that Israel faces bullying at the U.N. and she warned that the U.S. might pull out of the U.N. Human Rights Council. Up next on American History TV’s Reel America – 50 years after the 1967 Six-Day War, an era perspective on Palestine from the 1979 United Nations film, “The Palestinian People Do Have Rights.” The 52 minute documentary traces events from 1947 until 1978 with archival film, visits to refugee camps and interviews with several Palestinians.

Five showings preceded by numerous plugs for the propaganda film

Thus began C-SPAN’s presentation of an anti-Israel film aired on C-SPAN3 on five days in 2017 – June 24, 25, 26 and July 1 and 2. C-SPAN had promoted the film in the preceding week with at least two plugs in each Washington Journal three-hour daily broadcast. Potentially millions of viewers could be deceived.

The film, “The Palestinian People Do Have Rights,” was produced in 1979 by the notorious anti-Israel U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP). The Committee consists mainly of representatives of Islamic and third world countries. The presentation unsurprisingly contains no appearance of an Israel supporter or spokesperson.

C-SPAN’s introduction indicates that the network’s purpose in airing the film is to rationalize the U.N.’s mistreatment of Israel that is protested by Ambassador Haley (more below). It’s revealing that the presentation failed to contain a standard disclaimer such as “Points of view expressed in the following program are those of the producer and not necessarily those of C-SPAN.”

About the 1979 film

First, the film conveys the notion that Palestinian Arab peoplehood existed well before the re-establishment of the Jewish state in 1948. However, omitted is the fact that nearly all West Bank Arabs considered themselves to be “southern Syrians” until the 1960s when Arab terrorist leader Yasser Arafat and his disciples adopted the notion of Palestinian Arab nationhood as a rallying anti-Israel tactic.

The film portrays the conflict as basically that of good guys (Palestinian Arabs) victimized by bad guys (Israeli Jews and others). It features five snippets of propaganda delivered by Edward Said and two by Arafat (more below).

Likewise, the film’s narrator contributes much to the propaganda barrage.
Excerpts from the film

• The film opens with a pair of Arab men bemoaning their fate as Palestinians: “You are asking me what it is to be a Palestinian… Wherever he is, they tend somehow to look at him as a suspect because he does not have an identity in the sense that he does not have a country. He is stateless.”

Comment: A main theme of the film is the notion that the Palestinians have been uniquely victimized in being denied their own state due allegedly to the machinations of various culprits – Israel among them. This complaint continues to persist in 2017. Meanwhile, long-established peoples – including the Kurds, Tibetans, Tamils and Basques – continue to await world recognition as countries while one of 22 Arab states, Jordan, has a Palestinian Arab majority and occupies three-fourths of the land originally intended for reestablishment of the Jewish national home according to the Mandate for Palestine (1922).
Despite this, the Palestinians could still have had their 23rd Arab state had not Palestinian leaders rejected U.S. and Israeli offers of two-state solutions in 2000, 2001, 2008 and spurned renewed talks on such an agreement proposed by Secretary of State John Kerry in 2014. The current Palestinian leadership insists on various conditions before peace negotiations can take place, including: Israel must accede to the demands that it accept heretofore unacceptable Palestinian pre-conditions such as refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and – “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 result in engulfing Israel with Arab Muslims, effectively destroying it as a Jewish state and Western style democracy. Clearly, statehood remains lower in priority than destruction of the Jewish state. Of course, the initial opportunity passed up by the Arabs to have a Palestinian state was related to the 1947 U.N. Resolution 181 (more below).
• Narrator (voiceover to archival film clips): “Since World War II, the Middle East has been a scene of continuous violence. In 1947, the United Nations endorsed the creation of one Arab and one Jewish state out of the British mandate in Palestine under a partition plan which provided also an international regime in and around Jerusalem. Israel was established in 1948 but The Palestinian Arab state never came into being. There have been four full-scale wars, all threats to world peace. Territorial limits kept moving back and forth and between and around. During times referred to as no war, no peace. Thousands of people from all sides fell as victims and thus attacks and counter attacks.”

Comment: The film conveys the false impression that the “four full-scale wars” were simply wars between enemies. The reality is that all were wars precipitated by Arab actions aimed at destroying Israel:

(1) The 1948 War: The legal right of the Jewish people to reconstitute their own state in their ancestral homeland was granted by the Allied Powers of World War I at the 1920 San Remo conference. The next legal step was the 1922 League of Nations Palestine Mandate, Article 6, which laid down the Jewish legal rights in Palestine and encourages “close settlement by Jews on the land” west of the Jordan River (the heartland of ancient Israel). This covered not only what was to become Israel in 1948 but also the West Bank (and Gaza Strip, though Israel chose to withdraw from that area in 2005). The Mandate, including Article 6, was upheld by the 1945 United Nations Charter, Chapter XII (International Trusteeship System), Article 80, which states that nothing in it shall “alter
in any manner whatsoever the rights of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international agreements” to which U.N. members may be parties.
The 1947 U.N. Resolution 181 called for partition of the land of the British Mandate for Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. While the Jews accepted the resolution and declared the state of Israel, the Arabs rejected it and promised to go to war to destroy Israel. Israel declared its independence at midnight on May 14, 1948. The next day five Arab armies along with local Arab militias launched an all out war against the new state.

(2) The Suez war of 1956 on the part of Israel was in coordination with a British and French assault to regain control of the Suez Canal from Egypt. Israel invaded the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula to stop large-scale Egyptian-backed terrorism.

(3) The Six-Day War of 1967 was caused by Egypt’s imposition of a complete naval blockade upon Israel, Egypt’s ordering the U.N. peacekeepers out of the Sinai and positioning of a large military force there. There had been virulent rhetoric issuing from Egypt’s President Nasser. He said on May 27, 1967, “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel.” This had been accompanied by an alarming rising frequency of Arab terrorist attacks.

(4) The 1973 Yom Kippur War was a fight by Israel for its survival after surprise attacks on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar by Egypt and Syria. Israel prevailed despite the Soviet Union’s massive resupply to Egypt and Syria.

• Dr. Sari Nassir, a sociologist at Jordan University opposed to U.S. Middle East policy, falsely characterizes the conflict, “We could find a way to coexist in Palestine Israel. We must get guarantees that this Israel will not expand because ever since the existence of Israel, it has expanded onward. They have tried to erase our identity. I started out to be a Palestinian. In 1948 I was referred to as a refugee. Then I was referred to as a Jordanian, an Egyptian, a Syrian. On the way, I heard I do not exist. And now they call me a Bedouin. These people have tried to erase my identity.”

Comment: No evidence exists that Israel has tried to erase the identity of Arabs. The accusation that Israel is expansionist is without substance.

• Narrator: “On May 14, 1948, a Jewish state self-proclaimed itself under the name of “Israel.” Incidents such as that of the Jewish massacre of Arabs in the village of Deir Yassin which had taken place in April had spurred an exodus of refugees. Neighboring Arab states sent troops into Palestine claiming they were acting for the sole purpose of restoring peace, security and establishing law and order in Palestine. It became full-scale war. Numerous U.N. efforts to negotiate a truce were fruitless.”

Comment: “… to establish law and order” – is a cynical euphemism for – “to destroy the Jewish state.”

• Edward Said: “The events like the massacre at Deir Yassin in April of 1948 … panic spread through the population and continuing into the spring of 1948 was not well-organized and had no political center to it. As a result, the main impulse of people was to run, to get as far away from the fighting, from the terror as possible.”

Comment: Contradicting Said’s self-serving explanation that Arabs fled the area due to Israeli attacks and “terror” – is the reality that there was no single cause for Arab flight. The factors include these: Arab military and political leaders urged civilians to flee promising their return once the Jews were defeated; local Arab leadership and elites set an example by evacuating their towns and villages early during the conflict; Arab villagers were panicked by Arab radio broadcasts (mainly by the Palestine Broadcasting Service) in 1948 with fabricated reports of atrocities in Deir Yassin.

References to the event at Deir Yassin (here by both narrator and Said) have remained a staple of anti-Israel propaganda for decades because the incident was unique. Palestinian propagandists have made the most out of it. In contrast, organized attacks by Palestinian Arabs upon Jewish civilians have been commonplace.

Deir Yassin was an Arab village strategically located on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road. It was overrun by Jewish self-defense forces in 1948 and approximately a hundred Arab villagers were killed. Most of those killed were involved in the fighting. The reports of the attack were greatly exaggerated (references: The Daily Telegraph of London, April 8, 1998; BBC television’s Israel and the Arabs: the 50-Year Conflict).
• Narrator: “The October [1973 Yom Kippur] War had instilled a new sense of pride for the Arabs. On the occupied West Bank, this was expressed in more and more demonstrations at the appearance of military authorities and new Jewish settlers on Arab land.”

Comment: Regarding the commonly heard myth, “Jewish settlers on Arab land,” on the West Bank, virtually no privately-owned Arab land has been lost to Jewish settlers. Post-‘67 Jewish communities comprise little more than four percent of the West Bank territory (the ancient Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria) and have been built almost exclusively on property that was state land under Ottoman, British, Jordanian and now Israeli administration or property purchased from private owners.

• Nadim Zaru (identified as “deported mayor of Ramallah”): “Demolishing houses, demolishing villages, treating people the way they are treating them. That will create more hatred.”

Comment: The Israelis have abided by international covenants. Arab villages have not been demolished. Houses of terrorists have sometimes been demolished as a deterrence to terrorism. The accusation of “demolishing villages” is commonly based on the myth involving Deir Yassin. Note that the film nowhere mentions the 1929 torture (including sexual mutilation) and massacre of Hebron Jews by an armed Arab mob enraged by false accusations involving Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. The result was the slaughter of 67 and wounding of 60. The Jewish community in Hebron was destroyed.

• Suleiman Najjab (identified as a “deported party leader”): “They [Israeli authorities] used to hang me from my feet upside down, and they began to beat me for hours and beat me on my sexual organ.”

Comment: This accusation cannot be substantiated. Israelis have abided by international norms of behavior.

• Narrator: “Israel concedes some excesses were taken. The United Nations special committee to investigate Israeli practices in the occupied territories, basing itself on witnesses and press reports within and outside Israel, stated the indications are very strong that cases of torture occurred and continue to occur.”

Comment: This narrative cannot be substantiated.

• The film’s only real admission of specific Arab terrorism involves a short segment near the end of the broadcast with mention of the events at Ma’alot, Munich and Lod. At Ma’alot, Arabs had killed 22 Jewish children and four adults in 1974 – the massacre was glorified by Palestinian Authority Television. Munich involved the 1972 murder of 11 of Israel’s Olympic athletes. The Tel Aviv Lod Airport
massacre in 1972 killed 26 and injured 80.

But this is mitigated immediately in the film by Arafat’s self-serving rationalization, “We are against all this [terrorism] but … [he falsely charges that Israel practices terrorism].” Arafat may condemn terrorism for the consumption of Western audiences but there is little doubt that these attacks were at least supported, if not ordered, by him.
• Narrator: “The PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] accepts responsibility for raids inside Israel. But violence continues on both sides… Violence breeds hatred. Retaliation brings only further retaliation.”

Comment: The film falsely claims here in effect that the dynamic at work is cycle-of-violence when in fact what’s actually involved has been Israel’s self-defense measures against Arab terrorism.

Ambassador Haley’s views

The Washington Post article referred to by C-SPAN reads:

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said in Jerusalem on Wednesday that Israel faces bullying at the United Nations — and that she has no patience for it.

Haley arrived in Israel to a hero’s welcome one day after warning that the United States might pull out of the U.N. Human Rights Council unless it changes its ways in general and its negative stance on Israel in particular.


“You know, all I’ve done is to tell the truth, and it’s kind of overwhelming at the reaction,” she said. “It was a habit. And if there’s anything I have no patience for it’s bullies, and the U.N. was being such a bully to Israel, because they could.”

[U.S. says it may pull out of U.N. human rights body, citing member abuses, treatment of Israel]


Israeli leaders are hopeful that with support from the Trump administration, the United Nations will change the way it treats Israel.

At a meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, Haley said the United States was “looking carefully” at its participation in the council, which she lambasted for allowing countries involved in human rights abuses to remain members while maintaining what she called “chronic anti-Israel bias.”

“It’s hard to accept that this council has never considered a resolution on Venezuela, and yet it adopted five biased resolutions in March against a single country, Israel,” she said.

Said and done

Edward Said, featured in the film, a well known anti-Israel activist born in the Middle East, was a Columbia University English professor for 40 years until his death in 2003. Said never accepted Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state, instead promoting a single state for Palestinians and Jews. But such a state would be unviable for Jews given the predilections of large Arab Muslim populations. Furthermore, the attitude of most who promote the single state solution is that 22 Arab Muslim states is fine but one Jewish state is one too many.

Commentary magazine revealed that Said had repeatedly lied about his upbringing, claiming he had been raised in Jerusalem where he spent an idyllic childhood until the invading Jewish army forced his family to flee in December 1947. Despite Said’s clear intention to portray his own life as a metaphor for “Palestinian dispossession,” the fact is that he was brought up in Cairo, and British Mandate records show that his parents neither owned nor rented the Jerusalem residence he portrayed as his childhood home. (“‘My Beautiful Old House’ and Other Fabrications by Edward Said,” Justus Weiner, September 1999). Said’s documented deceptions about the Arab-Israel conflict are numerous.

C-SPAN as a vehicle for anti-Israel propaganda
C-SPAN (Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network) describes itself as “a private non-profit company, created in 1979 by the cable television industry as a public service.” C-SPAN has been granted exclusive rights by the U.S. Congress to cover it. But the Congress has thus far overlooked the network’s chronic journalistic malpractice pertaining to Jews and the Jewish state in broadcasts of its three-hour daily flagship program, Washington Journal as well as other C-SPAN programs. Examples: 
[1] Notorious Anti-Jewish Demagogue David Duke Viewed Nationwide on C-SPAN;
[2] C-SPAN’s Palestinian Propaganda Presentation as a “Public Service”;

[3] Washington Think Tank Misleads C-SPAN Viewers About Israeli-Palestinian Conflict;

[4] C-SPAN Provides Platform for Radical Activist Medea Benjamin;

[5] C-SPAN’s Book TV Show Spins Anti-Israel Line;

[6] C-SPAN Version of Balance on Israel: Buchanan and Nader;

[7] C-SPAN’s SOS Encourages Blaming Israel;

[8] C-SPAN’s Call-Blocking Policy Fails to Block Chronic Anti-Israel Caller;

[9] Deceiving C-SPAN’s Viewers About Israel;

[10] C-SPAN’s Selective Sensitivity to Caller Insults.

When will either Congress, perhaps leveraging C-SPAN’s access privileges to cover proceedings of Congress, or the cable/satellite companies (such as Comcast, Verizon an
d DirecTV) which finance C-SPAN, deal with the network regarding its outrageous treatment of Israel and the Jewish people?

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