“Public Service” C-SPAN Continues its Disservice in Airing Unchallenged Defamation of Israel

For several years now, the millions of viewers of C-SPAN’s Washington Journal daily three-hour talk show have been routinely subjected to defamatory anti-Israel hate rhetoric by callers. Unfortunately, C-SPAN hosts rarely, if ever, challenge the unbridled hate rhetoric that distorts the truth.

…talk about when they blew up the USS Liberty and we had 17 soldiers killed…

A recent call demonstrates the type of questionable accusations launched at Israel without challenge:

“[My favorite story this week] was on the Christian Channel, news program [that] explained how Zionist Christians believe that Israel should take over the Middle East, including Syria, Iran, Iraq, and the whole Middle East… we cannot speak about their nuclear arsenal or … talk about when they blew up the USS Liberty and we had 17 soldiers killed …” (WJ caller “Mike from Ohio,” June 22 at 7:36 a.m.).

First of all, the caller’s “take over” claim is a gross distortion of what Christian Zionists believe. Secondly, the claim regarding the USS Liberty is false. As has been thoroughly documented, the attack on the U.S. ship near the Egyptian coast during the 1967 Six Day War was a fog-of-war tragic accident. Yet this false claim has become a staple for WJ’s numerous anti-Israel callers.

The charge against Israel’s alleged “nuclear arsenal” is also a common one among C-SPAN callers. In fact, Israel’s purported nuclear weapons role for deterrence in the volatile Middle East is analogous to the role of America’s nuclear weapons role in keeping the Cold War with the Soviet Union from turning hot. Israel does not threaten other countries with destruction. 

These charges are part and parcel of the accusation that Israel is a violent and dangerous entity. Below is a sampling of similar recent defamatory assaults on Israel which have gone unchallenged by C-SPAN hosts.

Israel is Stoking War With Iran

• “I want to say something about the Iran nuclear deal. Actually, when I see the Iranians shout ‘Death to America’ and burn our flag, I don’t blame them. Pulling the U.S. out of this deal has nothing to do with the safety and security about the United States. This was done only because of Israel, plain and simple. Israel has been threatening Iran for years now and wants to swing our leaders and conflicts against Iran. I don’t blame the Iranians that shout ‘Death to America.'” (WJ caller “Michael from New York,” May 10 at 8:17 a.m.).

The host failed to comment.

• “Israel is standing on the ready to start a conflict with Iran and start a conflict again in the Middle East.” (WJ caller “Joan from New Orleans,” May 9 at 8:12 a.m.).

While the host failed to comment, a guest challenged: “Unfortunately, this Iran deal I believe from the beginning was a bad deal. It ultimately gave Iran exactly what we were trying to prevent, that was access to nuclear weapons. Iran is a sponsor of terrorism. They are a destabling influence in the Middle East and around the world.” Unfortunately, this type of challenge is rarely seen on C-SPAN, and virtually never by the hosts.

Israel is a Foreign Interloper That is to Blame for Arab Refugee Problem

• “The state of Israel didn’t come until 1948 or something around there, and it is land that displaced a lot of people and made them refugees from their own land.” (WJ caller “Ken from Washington, D.C.,” May 14 at 9:16 a.m.)

The host failed to comment.

In fact, there has been an almost continuous presence of Jews in the land since biblical times and the modern Jewish state was established in the ancient Jewish homeland. The refugee problem was the result of a war of aggression waged by Arab leaders against the nascent state of Israel, in contravention of the UN Charter. Moreover, the vast majority of those who became refugees were not expelled by the Israel but fled at the behest of their leaders. At the same time, Jews who had resided in Arab countries for many generations were expelled by Arab leaders and were absorbed by Israel. Arab leaders, however, refused to absorb Arab refugees, clinging to the hope that they would ultimately eliminate the Jewish state. (See, for example, Palestinian Arab and Jewish Refugees, CAMERA report, May 12, 2009).

Israel is a Cruel and Violent Entity

• “You have an open-air prison over in Israel which is rarely spoken of.” (WJ caller Ken from Los Angeles,” May 10 at 8:08 a.m.)

The host failed to comment.

• “Here we are going around killing everybody or getting Saudi Arabia and Israel to kill everybody.” (WJ caller “Tony from Texas,” May 23 at 7:26 a.m.).

The host failed to challenge.

• “I think North Korea should tell the United States, ‘after you tell Israel to get rid of their nukes, you get back to us.” (WJ caller “Barbara from New York,” May 25 at 8:43 a.m.).

The host failed to comment.

Israel is Compared to Nazi Germany

• “Sometimes we tell ourselves that sometimes we become the things we hate the most. There is the Holocaust that resulted from hatred of the Jews. Now Israel is becoming like Germany was in those days.” (WJ caller “Marty from Pennsylvania,” May 12 at 8:58 a.m.).

• “I want to talk about our relationship with the Israelis. The Holocaust was a horrendous part of history. They continue to draw sympathy for what happened during World War II … [but] the horrendous deeds they are doing to the Palestinians. They are not letting them have freedom of movement. I believe ISIS appeared because they are trying to survive.” (WJ caller “Joan from Rochester, Minnesota,” May 9 at 9:58 a.m.).

The definition of anti-Semitism, according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) which was adopted by the European Union and endorsed by the US State Department, includes “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

But despite the fact that these comments veered into anti-Semitism, the host failed to challenge either of these comments.

Israel and Zionists Controls U.S. Policy 

• “Our foreign policy in the Middle East is run by [Israel’s Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu.” (WJ caller “Steve from Illinois,” June 9 at 7:06 a.m.).

Our foreign policy is run by Benjamin Netanyahu…

• Caller: “They’re going to bring the American embassy to occupied Palestine and Jerusalem… they want Donald Trump out of office by the end of this term. So Vice President Pence can come in and take over. This is the part that will lead to World War III…”

Host: “Who’s they?”

Caller: “They are the Zionist English Jews and the Russian Zionist Jews – I mean the Russian Christian Jews.” (WJ caller “Awad from Las Vegas, Nevada,” May 3 at 7:41 a.m.)

The IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism also includes “making mendacious, demonizing or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.” But again these inflammatory remarks went unchallenged. Other than indulging the caller (“Who is they?”), the host failed to interact or comment.

Repeat Callers and Messages

The same caller, Awad, had phoned on Sept. 9, 2012 (9:34 a.m.) and similarly defamed Israel and America.

caller (April 9, 2018 at 7:15 a.m.) who sounded supiciously like Awad, called on April 9, 2018 (7:15 a.m.) identified as “Oyeh from Las Vegas,” to likewise defame Israel and America:

“Mr. [John] Bolton should be held for war crimes, and so should the United States government for crimes committed with Russia and the United States, the two biggest criminals going” and “when they created the state of Israel, they created World War III.”

Other voices sounding very much like Awad similarly defamed Israel and America, including: Ayishah (Aug. 17, 2016 at 9:54 a.m.), Corey (March 27, 2016 at 7:20 a.m.), Ayishah (Nov. 15, 2015 at 7:07 a.m.). These callers all sound suspiciously like Awad, but readers can judge for themselves by listening to the calls in the links above.  (We earlier noted the same pattern of repeat callers and/or messages.) 

Washington Journal’s method of call screening raises questions. Why do they not screen and flag repeat callers or those repeating virtually identical messages?  

“Public Affairs” Events Covered by C-SPAN

C-SPAN’s  “coverage of public affairs events” has included numerous anti-Israel propaganda events. The network typically broadcasts these events without providing context. The network does not even issue a standard broadcast disclaimer, such as, “Points of view expressed in this program are not necessarily those of this network.”

Recent such coverage included a broadcast aired twice that consisted of 41-minutes of anti-Israel posturing from  Press TV, Iran’s state-funded and controlled English-language news channel. The biased account of violent Gaza Strip riots and protests against the relocation of the U.S. embassy was presented as if it were an objective news report. (For a discussion of this broadcast, see here.)

Another such event covered live was the March 2, 2018 meeting hosted by Institute for Research Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) and American Educational Trust (AET), both of which are notoriously anti-Israel organizations. The meeting slammed supporters of Israel particularly AIPAC and Christian Zionists, as well as taking a swipe at CAMERA.

Israel the Exception for C-SPAN

Callers, unchallenged by Washington Journal, regularly delegitimize the Jewish state while ignoring terrorist entities like Hamas and Hezbollah, which are sworn to Israel’s destruction, and giving a free pass to such oppressive governments as the Islamist regime of Iran and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which has killed tens of thousands of its own citizens in recent years.

C-SPAN rarely, if ever, provides viewers with information about the 1.8 million Arab citizens of Israel who enjoy full citizenship rights or the actions by the Jewish state to absorb 25,000 Ethiopians who were saved from religious oppression, war and famine and now reside as citizens in Israel. As the late New York Times columnist William Safire memorably wrote on Jan. 7, 1985: “For the first time in history, thousands of black people are being brought to a country not in chains but in dignity, not as slaves but as citizens.”

In fact, Israel is the only foreign nation that is subjected to consistently biased treatment on the network’s airways. This continues to be ignored by Congress, the news media and C-SPAN’s patrons including the cable/satellite television providers such as Comcast. Barring a huge public outcry, there’s little reason to expect any change.