In an otherwise fair interview, PBS’ Judy Woodruff fails to challenge or correct Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, on his outrageous and completely false claim that Israel has built “thousands of new settlements.”
In the Dec. 23 “Newshour” interview
, Rhodes falsely states:
The fact of the matter is, though, I think if you look at the map of the West Bank, if you look at the future of the two-state solution, these settlements are encroaching further and further beyond the separation barrier that the Israelis themselves built, thousands of new settlements are being constructed and, frankly, if these trends continue, it will be impossible to realize a two-state solution.
After Woodruff raises bipartisan criticism of the Obama administration’s decision not to veto United Nations Security Resolution 2334
asserting that Israeli settlements have “no legal validity,” Rhodes digs himself into a deeper ditch, speaking of “tens of thousands” of settlements:
Well, look, we respect, of course, friends on both sides of the aisle who have expressed different views on this. Again, I think the question is going to be when history looks at these types of decisions, when people look back and they say, you saw tens of thousands of settlements being constructed, you saw as was addressed in the resolution, incitement to violence on the Palestinian side.
According to the anti-settlement organization Peace Now
, there a total of 228 settlements, including established settlements founded by the Israeli government decades ago, along with wildcat outposts considered illegal under Israeli law, founded since the 1990s’ without government approval.
The Israeli government constructed zero new settlements in recent years.
Last May, in a widely reported New York Times
Sunday Magazine article
by David Samuels, Rhodes discussed how he created an “echo chamber” to generate sympathetic media coverage and an internet buzz in favor of the Iran deal. “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns,” Rhodes had said. “They literally know nothing.”
It seems that with the end of his tenure in sight, Rhodes has allowed himself ever greater allowances, feeding a blatant falsehood to a veteran journalist with many years of experience. “If you look at the map,” he prefaces his falsehood regarding the construction of “tens of thousands” of settlements (again, Peace Now puts the figure for settlements and outposts constructed over the last five decades at 228).
The top White House official apparently counted on experienced journalist Judy Woodruff not to check the map. And, unfortunately, she obliged.
CAMERA calls on PBS to broadcast an on the air clarification noting that Rhodes’ claim about the construction of “tens of thousands” of settlements is completely unfounded. No new settlements have been founded in recent years, and the total number of settlements and illegal outposts together, built in five decades, reaches 228, according to Peace Now, a miniscule fraction of the amount that the departing White House adviser for strategic communications claims.