CNN Rewrites History of 1948, 1967 Wars

Army recruits with their instructor, 1948 (Photo by Kluger Zoltan/Israeli Government Press Office)

Sam Kiley, a senior international correspondent based in CNN Abu Dhabi’s bureau, has rewritten the history of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence and the 1967 Six-Day War. In his Oct. 3 analysis (“Any war between the US and Iran would be a catastrophe. And no one could win it“), Kiley absurdly asserts that those fateful wars were “to expand territory”:

Close to 200,000 descendants of Palestinians who fled their country in successive Israeli wars to expand territory in 1948 and 1967, now live in Lebanon. A similar number are in Jordan.

The 1948 and 1967 wars were fought to fend off Arab campaigns to annihilate the Jewish state, not “to expand territory.” As CNN has in the past reported, in May 1948: “Forces from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon invade, leading to the first in a series of Arab-Israeli wars.” About the 1948 war, Kiley himself wrote in the Guardian in 2008: “As the ink dried on the independence scroll, the armies of Syria, Jordan and Egypt threw themselves into a battle to wipe out the Jewish state.” 

In 1967, Israel attacked Egypt preemptively to once again thwart a campaign to eliminate the Jewish state. Before Israel’s preemptive attack, Egypt expelled United Nations troops from the Sinai peninsula and blockaded Israel’s port of Eilat, under international law a casus belli.  These belligerent Arab actions were accompanied by explicit calls from Arab leaders to destroy Israel. For instance, as President Nasser declared: “Our aim is the full restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people. In other words, we aim at the destruction of the State of Israel. The immediate aim: perfection of Arab military might. The national aim: the eradication of Israel” (Nov. 18, 1965).
In a separate error, Kiley grossly understates the number of descendants of Palestinians who fled their homes in 1948 in 1967 and now live in Jordan, putting that figure at some 200,000. In fact, according to a 2016 Jordanian census there were more than 630,000 Palestinians without Jordanian ID cards living in Jordan. In addition to that figure, there are reportedly 1.8 million Palestinians living in Jordan who hold Jordanian citizenship. 

CAMERA has contacted CNN about the errors. Stay tuned for an update about corrections.

This post was updated on Oct. 8 to include reference to Kiley’s 2008 Guardian article acknowledging the 1948 Arab war to wipe out the Jewish state.

Hat tip to Jonathan Minnen