THUMBS DOWN to Larry King on CNN’s May 30, 1995, “Larry King Live” for his fawning interview with Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi, whose book promotion tour of the U.S. in May prompted a rash of obsequious exchanges with journalists. Though candid about his superficial preparation for interviews, King’s rush to silence a program caller who asked about Yasir Arafat’s bellicose speeches is testimony to the danger of willful ignorance on the part of the host. When the caller asked why Arafat had proclaimed, “We are all bombers,” Ashrawi waved away the question, calling it “hearsay.” King quickly backed her up, saying, “I don’t think he said that.” In fact, Arafat had triggered an outcry in Israel with a speech broadcast in January, 1995, on Palestinian television. In it he praised Islamic Jihad “martyrs,” and said, “We are all seekers of martyrdom.” His intent was clear to every Palestinian and Israeli. Larry King’s celebrity-chasing may be harmless when focused on Hollywood figures, but it has more serious consequences in the realm of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
An exception to the groveling approach was a review of Ashrawi’s book by Fawaz Turki in the July, 1995, American Spectator. Turki, whose characterizations of Israel are distorted, nevertheless correctly describes Ashrawi as an elitist woman of wealth, defending a corrupt PLO and wholly out of touch with the Palestinian masses.