C-SPAN Version of Balance on Israel: Buchanan and Nader

Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan
The Nov. 20 After Words program on C-SPAN2 Book TV featured an interview by Ralph Nader (former consumer advocate and third party presidential candidate) of Pat Buchanan (author and political commentator) about Buchanan’s new book, “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?” Midway through the one-hour program, Nader and Buchanan, both veteran opponents of Israel, devoted a few minutes to bashing Israel during a discussion arguing that Christianity is in decline in the Middle East. With the exception of Israel, it is. But Nader falsely blames Israel for more than a century of Christian Arab emigration from the region in the face of Muslim Arab pressure. In doing so, he uses inflammatory wording about purported Israeli actions “against the birthplace of Jesus Christ,” evoking religious intolerance toward Jews:

NADER: Here’s what I don’t understand because, it’s not all consistent. Like, lets take, for example, the situation of Bethlehem in the West Bank. It’s now surrounded by ten growing Israeli colonies which block access to Jerusalem, and there are two other colonies that block access of people to Hebron. Okay. There are very few Christians left.

BUCHANAN: I know it.

NADER: The Church of the Nativity is almost like isolated. The (indistinct) – the Christian (indistinct) to the Church – and hotels are shut down, so, the pilgrims who come from all over the world can’t stay overnight anymore. Now, the Presbyterian Church took a stand, the Methodist Church has taken a stand, the evangelicals support Israel no matter what happens against the birthplace of Jesus Christ, you’d think they’d have an exception, but the Vatican, and you know this probably better than I do because Robert Novak wrote two columns about it, the Vatican is very upset. They are negotiating with the Israelis all the time – the holy places and so on. But they have not really spoken out. Now, you know, the Israelis blasted their way to protect the Wailing Wall [Western Wall] in 1967 and where is Christendom on these holy places and what about the U.S. Congress? What about the Catholics and Protestants in the U.S. Congress? This has nothing to do with whether Israel will get 3 or 4 more billion more dollars of aid every year.

BUCHANAN: I take the point…

Nader freely makes sensational sounding accusations that lack substance. What does he mean by “ten growing Israeli colonies which block access…?” He does not say, perhaps because his charge is an empty one. Further, Nader illegitimately uses the word “colony” (see below).
Nader falsely charges, without elaboration, that Israel fails to protect Christian holy places while he ignores that Muslim Arabs have restricted access to and otherwise mistreated and at times desecrated Christian and Jewish holy places, for example, the multiple Palestinian Arab attacks on Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus and the massive, unregulated destruction of First and Second Temple Jewish relics under Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. He demonstrates his bias by ignoring the converse, Israeli protection of Christian sites. For example, The National Catholic Reporter (Jan. 25, 2002; byline Gill Donovan) described how the Israeli government in 2002, at the urging of Catholic Church authorities, permanently halted the construction of a mosque adjacent to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. The Church argued that the mosque, planned by Muslim authorities to tower over the basilica, would inhibit free access to the church, which marks the spot where Christian tradition holds that Mary received the news that she would bear Jesus. Additional examples here, here, here and here.

Further, Nader ignores terrorizing of Christian Arabs by Palestinian Muslim Arabs. A CAMERA report said:

For example, on May 13 [2002], Sayed Anwar reported on the “reign of terror” imposed by Palestinian terrorists in Bethlehem against the citizens there, especially Christians (“Exiled Palestinian militants ran two-year reign of terror”). The story describes the residents as calling the group who seized the Church of the Nativity a “criminal gang” responsible for rape, extortion and execution. The men preyed on Palestinian Christians demanding “protection money” and traveling around town with M-16 rifles, terrorizing the community. Local residents were “delighted that these criminals who have intimidated us for such a long time are now going away.” Members of the local community also expressed fears of new gunmen coming in and a renewal of the intimidation of residents of [adjacent] Beit Jala whose houses were used as bases for shooting attacks on the nearby [Jerusalem] Jewish neighborhood of Gilo.

Nader’s illegitimate use of the loaded term “colony,” implying an alien community established in foreign territory by an imperial power, applies neither historically, legally, nor logically to the Israeli presence in an area that it is part of the Jewish people’s historical homeland. Jewish communities have existed for millennia in the “West Bank,” the name Jordan assigned to the areas known during the British Mandate for Palestine as Judea and Samaria, and of course, referred to as such in the Christian New Testament, based on their biblical Hebrew names, Yehuda and Shomron.

Nader, perhaps imagining a conspiracy, is outraged that evangelicals and “Catholics and Protestants in the U.S. Congress” support Israel. Nader is apparently incapable of seeing the major reason for this support, the belief that backing the Middle East’s one Western-style democracy, the only country in the region in which, not coincidentally, the Christian Arab population both has grown and enjoyed the same civil rights as the country’s Jewish majority, is the right thing to do.
Nader’s obsessive blaming of Israel as the villain in the decline of Christianity in the Middle East even drew a mild dissent from Buchanan who noted that Israel’s treatment of Christians is not like that of Christians elsewhere in the Middle East:

NADER: Where’s the religious nationalism?

BUCHANAN: Where’s the moral authority of the Catholic Church there? I don’t disagree with you. I think they ought to stand up, frankly, for the Palestinian Christians. But, Ralph, look, look at all the Christians. There’s 17 million Christians in that part of the world. I will say this, if it’s in Israel, they are not being persecuted there like the Copts in Egypt or the Assyrian Catholics and Chaldeans are in Iraq. They are victims of pogroms, they are victims of persecution, martyrdom in Afghanistan, liberated Afghanistan. One guy converted to Christianity, and they sentenced him to death.

As reported by CAMERA, even the New York Times and Christian Century magazine both belatedly but finally recognized that the reason for Christian flight from the Middle East is Muslim Arab pressure on Christian Arabs. The columnist Robert Novak is referred to by Nader as a source of his accusations that Israel is the culprit in Christian flight. But Novak’s false allegations attributing Christian flight to “Israeli policy” are exposed here and here.
Nader and Buchanan: The Culprit is Israel in Iran Versus Israel
Earlier in the broadcast, with Nader’s assent, Buchanan ridiculed Israel’s warnings about the danger posed by Iran’s nuclear weaponry program, “Look, take the Israelis saying it’s a threat. They [Israel] have hundreds of bombs. Who’s the threat to whom? The Israelis are the ones running the planes out to, you know, out to test runs and running them into Greece. If I was the Iranians, I’d look closely at that.”
But Buchanan and Nader, in their animosity toward Israel, ignore reality. Israel’s neighbors have little to fear from its presumed nuclear capability; Israel does not threaten other countries with destruction the way Iran threatens Israel. The Jewish state is perceived as highly unlikely to share nuclear weapons knowledge with any other country, unlike Iran, which continuously threatens other nations in addition to Israel and is considered a potential proliferator of nuclear weapons knowledge, including perhaps to terrorist entities. Israel’s presumed nuclear capability generally is a factor only in terms of its perceived deterrent effect against attacks by Iran and/or various Arab nations. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a religious fanatic, has frequently advocated the destruction of Israel. For example, on Oct. 26, 2005, in a speech to a “World Without Zionism” conference, he vowed that “Israel must be wiped off the map.”
Nader’s History of Anti-Jewish, Anti-Israel Bias
Nader’s anti-Israel, anti-Jewish sentiment here is not new for him. For example, In 2004, as an independent presidential candidate, he engaged in Jew-baiting:

The days when the chief Israeli puppeteer comes to the United States and meets with the puppet in the White House and then proceeds to Capitol Hill, where he meets with hundreds of other puppets, should be replaced…Bush also repeated the catch-phrase . . . “committed to the security of Israel as a Jewish state,” which is repeated almost word-for-word again and again by Israel’s sycophants and Capitol Hill puppets.”

The Washington Post, a frequent critic of Israel policies, criticized Nader’s language, charging him with pandering to Jew-haters. In an Aug.14, 2004 editorial, entitled Mr. Nader’s Baiting, The Post said:

The problem with Mr. Nader’s words are not that he criticizes either Israel’s policies or American support for those policies. The problem, rather, is the language he deploys in doing so. In the radio interview he called John Kerry a “puppet politician who does not think in the best interests of the American people and the Israeli and Palestinian people.” And in his letter he writes, referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group, of “AIPAC’s ditto machine on Capitol Hill” and the awed members of Congress “who, against their private judgment, resign themselves to sign on the dotted line.”

This is poisonous stuff. And if Mr. Nader doesn’t understand what such words actually mean, the less savory elements of American society certainly know how to read such code. But Mr. Nader, as always, is not backing down: “As for the metaphors – puppeteer and puppets – the Romans had a phrase for the obvious – res ipsa loquitor,” which means the thing speaks for itself. Indeed it does.

Buchanan’s History of Anti-Jewish, Anti-Israel Bias

Buchanan has often expressed anti-Israel, anti-Jewish sentiments. Examples:

• On Sept. 3, 2009 discussing World War II-era events, Buchanan claimed that the killing of the Jews did not begin until January 1942 and said “No war, no Holocaust.” The occasion was the “Legacy of Winston Churchill” conference (or forum) which took place in London. R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator, wrote about Buchanan’s performance at that forum in his article, Is Pat Buchanan a Crank?:

[W]hen Buchanan said that the killing of the Jews did not begin until January 1942 I would like to have seen the look on his teammates’ faces. Even better, I would like to have seen the look on Buchanan’s face a few minutes later after [historian Dr. Andrew] Roberts enunciated the places where the Nazis killed over 1.5 million Jews before the first month of 1942. Really, Pat, “No war, no Holocaust”?

Buchanan’s point seems to be that Hitler had limited geopolitical aims a nd that the excitable Churchill overreacted. Buchanan doubts that Hitler “was out to conquer the world,” because Hitler did not build a military with the strategic reach to conquer the world. What is more, he let the British army evacuate from Dunkirk and he built a defensive line between Germany and France, the Siegfried Line. That Hitler was a racist lunatic and military incompetent escapes Buchanan’s notice.

The video clip of the nearly 2-hour public meeting is provided by C-SPAN. The key interchange between Buchanan and Roberts occurs from 1:11:00 to 1:13:48 in the clip when Dr. Roberts characterizes Buchanan’s assertion that the Holocaust did not begin until 1942 as “monstrous,” citing the facts that show that the Holocaust began in 1939. The Holocaust began no later than in 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland and his S.S. troops immediately began to massacre large numbers of Polish Jews. By the time Buchanan says the Holocaust had started, more than a million Jews had already been murdered.

• Buchanan’s appearance on the July 25, 2002 MSNBC Hardball broadcast is documented in a CAMERA report:

The July 25th episode of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” with guest host Mike Barnicle, included a particularly lopsided, objectionable segment. The show invited Pat Buchanan and Bill Press to discuss the recent Israeli raid against the top Hamas terrorist, Salah Shehadeh.

In response to all questions, Pat Buchanan castigated Israel or American politicians for supporting Israel. According to Pat, the only reason why the US has not punished Israel is because, “there is too much control of Congress, frankly, by the Israeli lobby.”

Buchanan has worked with three presidents and “none of them have been able to stand up (to the Israelis).” He also stated that, “the Israelis got away with this because they know they can get away with it.”

Buchanan’s offensive message – one he has long espoused – is that any politician supporting Israel is not doing so because Israel’s actions are justified or in harmony with American interests, but only because of potential campaign donations.

• A 1991 article in Newsweek magazine discussed Buchanan’s anti-Semitic views:

“I have a tremendous admiration for Bill Buckley,” he [Buchanan] said. In fact, Buchanan considered Buckley’s National Review to be his “spiritual guide” in politics. Last week, as Buchanan announced his candidacy for president, Buckley didn’t exactly return the favor. In a 40,000-word National Review essay on anti-Semitism among intellectuals, Buckley suggests that Buchanan’s columns on the [1991 Persian] Gulf war were anti-Semitic, while apparently free of prejudice against individual Jews.

Whether due to self-deception, outright animosity toward Israel and Jews or something else, the Nader/Buchanan team flies from reality in arguing the villainy of Israel. That C-SPAN, which for years has broadcast with virtually no hesitation anti-Israel, antisemitic bigotry in the call-in segment of its daily Washington Journal program, and at times through the selection of guests, as chronicled by CAMERA’s C-SPAN Watch, would host this embarrassing smear by Nader and Buchanan is, unfortunately, not surprising.
(C-SPAN can be contacted about this Nader/Buchanan broadcast.)

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