ZOA Condemns CNN’s Christiane Amanpour’s Series Falsely Equating Jewish & Christian Actions With Islamist Terrorists
August 31, 2007

New York — The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned the CNN’s Christiane Amanpour for her three-part, prime-time series, ‘God’s Warriors,’ which included a lengthy segment equating Jewish (and Christian) religious fervor with that of Muslims who endorse suicide bombing and support jihad. The series, purportedly intended to examine the growing role of religious fundamentalism in today’s world, is riddled with falsehoods and actually distorts understanding of radical Islam by misrepresenting religious Christians and Jews as equally violence-prone and dangerous as Islamist terrorists.

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “This is one of the worse pieces of television journalism we’ve ever seen. It is filled with falsehoods, distortions, omissions, and a clear, monstrously biased agenda against Israel while diminishing the real dangers Islamists pose to the Western world. If this piece was submitted at a university as a student documentary film, the student would probably receive a grade of ‘F’. By attempting to equate Jewish and Christian extremism with Islamist extremism, Amanpour actually downplays the very real present massive threat posed by Islamist terrorists who have struck and are striking around the world — in Indonesia, Thailand, India, Spain, Britain, the U.S. and a host of other countries.”

Bias and distortion in Amanpour’s series:

  • Amanpour fixates on rare instances of Jewish terrorism, ignores the widespread support for terrorism in Arab societies and fails to note the widespread condemnation of terrorism in Israeli society and the absence of such condemnation in Palestinian and wider Arab society: Although instances of Jewish terrorism are rare, Amanpour devotes a great deal of time to them. A particular focus of the program was the series of attacks on Arab mayors in the early 1980s, events that have little connection to anything happening today. Moreover, although Jewish terrorism against Arabs is exceedingly rare whereas Arab terrorism against Israelis is commonplace, Amanpour devotes no time to depicting the wall-to-wall opposition in Israel to acts of Jewish terrorism or to the public celebrations, as well as religious, social and political sanction given in Palestinian society towards acts of terror. The Israeli government, as well as the leaders of all Israeli political parties, has unequivocally condemned the rare acts of Jewish terrorism that have occurred over the years. In contrast, no Palestinian leader has condemned as a crime and moral obscenity any Palestinian terror attack upon Jews, no matter how horrific. Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas, for example, has only expressed criticism of Palestinian terror insofar as it sullies the Palestinian image (” it harms the Palestinian interest”; “I say this is not the time for this sort of attack”) and has often praised terrorists (“Allah loves the martyr”; ” Israel calls them murderers, we call them strugglers”; ” heroes fighting for freedom”) and named schools, streets and sports teams after terrorists who have murdered Jews.

  • Amanpour fails to note the condemnation of terrorism in Israeli society and the absence of such condemnation in Palestinian and wider Arab society. Instances of Jewish terrorism have been exceedingly rare, and have led to wall-to-wall condemnation of the act in Israeli society, the banning of small far-right groups supporting or carrying out such acts and the full force of Israeli law and police used to prevent and deter future attacks. In contrast, terrorism and “martyrdom” are committed by all major Palestinian groups, are valorized in the PA media, advocated by PA-appointed clerics in sermons, and generally glorified by the PA, which names streets, schools and sports teams after terrorists who murder Israelis.

  • Amanpour repeatedly and falsely asserts that Jewish communities established in Judea and Samaria are illegal. This is not the view of many distinguished legal scholars, past and present, like former Dean of Yale Law School & U.S. Undersecretary of State Eugene Rostow; Australia ‘s most celebrated international legal scholar, Sydney University Professor of International Law and Jurisprudence Julius Stone; and former Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justice Meir Shamgar. However, no legal scholar appears in Amanpour’s program to rebut the claim that these communities are in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. (Article 49 prohibits the forcible deportation of one’s own citizens into external territory, not the right of these citizens to reside in such territories, which they do of their free will). The territories in question are also constantly referred to by Amanpour as “Arab” land (22 times throughout the program), whereas they are in fact disputed territories unallocated under international law.

  • Amanpour does not challenge academic John Mearsheimer, author of a tendentious, hostile and factually flawed paper and forthcoming book on the Israel lobby, claiming that “because of the power of the [Jewish] lobby, the US has never been able to put pressure on Israel to halt settlements.” False — the most important lobby group for strong US-Israel relations, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has never supported settlements. Even when Israeli prime ministers asked AIPAC to support settlement policy, it has refused to do so until this day. Amanpour did not interview any critic of Carter or Mearsheimer’s views nor did she mention the countervailing and very powerful anti-Israel Arab and oil lobbies.

  • Amanpour does not challenge Mearsheimer’s false claim that the Congress supports Israel because the Zionist lobby gives Members of Congress free trips to Israel and other inducements . False — Pro-Israel lobbying efforts would fall on deaf ears if the overwhelmingly majority of non-Jewish Americans did not support Israel. (Former Congressman Lee Hamilton even once admitted in the early 1990s at an anti-Israel conference in Washington D.C., attended by Morton A. Klein, that he had to support Israel because his Christian constituents were pro-Israel). Moreover, a March 2007 McLaughlin & Associates poll found that Americans support Israel over the Palestinians by a ratio of 10 to 1.

  • Amanpour states and implies that the U.S. simply follows Israel’s line. False — since Israel’s establishment in 1948, the U.S. has taken many positions contrary to Israel’s — imposing an arms embargo during the Arab invasion of Israel; threatening Israel with sanctions if Israel did not withdraw from Sinai in 1957; refusing to honor commitments to ensure free passage of Israeli shipping blockaded by Egypt in 1967; condemning Israel’s 1981 destruction of Saddam’s nuclear reactor at Osirak; and withholding loan guarantees from Israel until it changed its policy on settlements, to name a few.

  • Amanpour only shows commentators agreeing with her false assertion of the illegality of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, and even distorts President Reagan’s remarks to support her point. Instead of seeking the views of the many legal scholars who could have explained the law, Amanpour only includes in her program testimony from various personalities, like former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, William Scranton, who agree with her frequently repeated assertion that Jewish settlement in the territories is illegal. She also distorts comments by President Reagan to support her false assertion that “American presidents both Democrat and Republican have spoken from virtually the same script.” In fact, Reagan stated explicitly in February 1981 in the New York Times that “I disagreed when the previous [Carter] Administration referred to them as illegal, they’re not illegal.” Nor, contrary to Amanpour’s implication, have subsequent presidents declared Jewish communities in the territories to be illegal. As President, Jimmy Carter, actually consulted government legal counsel on the question of the legality of settlements and was informed that they are not illegal.

  • Amanpour falsely claims that former President Jimmy Carter was “criticized for criticizing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians” after publishing his book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. False — he was criticized for numerous inaccuracies, misuse of documents and above all for justifying continuing Palestinian terrorism by writing that “It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel.”

  • Amanpour does not challenge Carter’s false assertion that there was “no doubt” that Jewish settlements are the big obstacle to peace — a statement that takes no account of the decades of terror and murder by Arabs of Israelis and three Arab-Israeli wars that preceded the construction of even a single Jewish community in Judea and Samaria.

  • Amanpour does not challenge Carter’s false assertion that no member of Congress can oppose Israel and win re-election. In fact, many Members of Congress, including current Senate Majority leader Robert Byrd and a host of serving and retired Congressmen, have done just that. Representatives James Trafficante, Dana Rohrabacher, Nick Smith, Fortney Pete Stark, Neil Abercrombie, David E. Bonior, John Conyers Jr., John D. Dingell, Earl F. Hilliard, Jesse L. Jackson Jr., Barbara Lee, Jim McDermott, George Miller, Jim Moran, David R. Obey, Ron Paul and Nick J. Rahall II, have all voted against aid to Israel and/or opposed other resolutions favoring Israel.

  • Amanpour falsely implies that President George H.W. Bush opposed loan guarantees for Israel on account of its settlement policy but that he caved in and granted the loan guarantees due to Jewish pressure. False — in fact, it was Israel that conceded, not the Bush Administration. Moreover, Bush’s pressure on Israel on the issue of loan guarantees to alter its policy probably played a part in the electoral defeat of Yitzhak Shamir’s Likud government and its replacement by Yitzhak Rabin’s Labor government, which offered concessions on settlement policy that were accepted by the Bush Administration. Moreover, Amanpour herself mentions that “Christian Zionists turn out in their thousands to demand that Congress support Israel and the Congress responds,” indicating that strong public support, not Jewish pressure, explains the support for Israel on Capitol Hill.

  • Amanpour states that Judea and Samaria “is also Palestinian land. The West Bank — it’s west of the Jordan River — was designated by the United Nations to be the largest part of an Arab state.” Amanpour doesn’t mention that the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world rejected the U.N. partition plan that would have created this state and went to war with Israel at its establishment to abort it. Lacking any binding agreement on this territory, it remains disputed land, not “Palestinian land,” unallocated under international law. Moreover, U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the 1967 Six Day War, provided for the drawing of final borders by agreement between Israel and the Arab belligerents of that war.

  • Amanpour falsely portrayed Jewish-Muslim tension in Jerusalem a product of the city’s reunification by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. Amanpour asserts that “the 40-year tug of war over Jerusalem began when Israel bulldozed the Arab neighborhood next to the Western Wall and built a plaza where Jews now pray.” In fact, tensions began when Muslims launched a pogrom against Jews in 1929 after a campaign of falsely alleging Jewish assaults on Muslim shrines in Jerusalem. During the 1948-49 war, Jerusalem was a battle zone in which its historic Jewish quarter, with its 58 synagogues as well as cemeteries, was systematically destroyed and its Jewish community besieged and expelled — but Amanpour does not mention any of this. The subsequent division of city and denial of access of Jews to religious shrines and only limited access for Christians to the churches in east Jerusalem, continued until the 1967 war when Israel reunified the city and instituted complete freedom of religion for all the faiths represented in the city.

  • Amanpour distorts the history and religious significance of Jerusalem to Jews and Muslims. Amanpour clams that, according to Muslim scripture, Mohammed ascended to heaven around the year 630. Muslim scripture refers to Mohammed ascending to heaven from the “farthest mosque,” which could not have been on the Temple Mount, since the mosque there wasn’t built until well after the death of Mohammed. Moreover, although Amanpour notes the holiness of the Temple Mount to Jews, and some of her Jewish interviewees say as much, Amanpour only interviewed a senior Muslim figure, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, to give a Muslim perspective on Jerusalem, whereas no Jewish Rabbinical figure was presented to discuss the paramount religious importance of Jerusalem to Jews. Jerusalem is a primary importance only to Judaism, not Christianity or Islam. Jerusalem is never even mentioned once in the Quran. When the Old City of Jerusalem was in Jordanian hands, no Arab leader other than Jordanian King Hussein ever visited the city. The city is also not mentioned in the PLO’s Covenant.

  • Amanpour uses ugly stereotypes of rich and pampered Jews defying international law in their support for Israeli settlement policy. Amanpour compounds her bias in claiming that settlements are illegal by depicting their American Jewish supporters thus: “Six thousand miles from Israel’s settlements, in the heart of Manhattan, defiance of international law comes dressed in diamonds.”

  • Amanpour choice of interviewees is persistently selective. In addition to examples already noted, Amanpour interviews author Gershon Gorenberg, who argues flatly that Islamist terror, violence and anger caused by Israel: “You can’t understand the anger of radical Islam unless you understand the conflict between you know, the Jews and the Palestinians.” In fact, jihad against non-Muslims is a time-honored Islamic religious obligation, and Islamist doctrines and their anti-Semitic character are traceable to Wahhabi Islam, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and other streams of Islamist thought that arose simultaneously with, and were influenced by, European fascism. Additionally, the false implication of Gorenberg’s argument is that Muslim rage is primarily rooted in the Israeli-Palestinian issue, which disregards the earlier and profound forces driving radical Islam, including the titanic struggle between Shiites and Sunnis triggered in large measure by the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, the Khomenist revolution and the expansion of Saudi Wahhabism across the Sunni Muslim world. Gorenberg also sates that Jewish settlements interfere with the possibility of a Palestinian state, but this ignores Ehud Barak’s 2000 offer of a fully contiguous Palestinian state in almost all of Judea and Samaria and with land swaps from Israeli territory to compensate Palestinians for land retained by Israel in the proposed peace settlement.

  • Amanpour falsely claims that after the 1967 war, “the Israeli government was divided — trade the captured land for peace or keep it and build Jewish settlements.” In fact, the then-Eshkol government offered almost a complete return of territory to the Arab belligerents in return for peace treaties. The Arab world responded later that year at the Khartoum conference with the formula — “No peace, no recognition, no negotiations.” Jewish settlements began only later.

  • Amanpour falsely claims that Israel gets $3 billion per year from the U.S. while not putting this in the context of other recipients of U.S. support. In fact, the amount given to Israel has fallen over the years to $2.5 billion annually, while Egypt receives only a little less — $2.1 billion. Additionally, the U.S. has given the PA over $1 billion since the start of the Oslo process, despite the terror sponsorship and corruption of the PA.

  • Amanpour recycles the false claim that with the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, “the peace process died that night.” In fact, the Oslo process was already then in deep trouble — the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was not fighting terror but was to the contrary allowing terror groups to operate freely and strengthen themselves within the PA, despite major Israeli concession of land and assets to the Palestinians. As a result, the Israeli public was turning against it. In fact, the rally at which Rabin was assassinated had been called to shore up Rabin’s government, which was then trailing Likud in the polls by 8 to 10 percentage points. Moreover, Rabin was succeeded by Shimon Peres, someone even more committed to making concessions to the Palestinians, yet still more terrorism followed.

  • Amanpour claims that Meir Kahane’s far-right wing group, Kach ,was banned by the Israeli government as a terrorist group after the 1994 killing of 29 Muslims in Hebron by Israelis. Amanpour again makes a massive factual error. Kach was banned in 1988, not 1994, and for being a racist group not, as Amanpour alleged, a terrorist group.

  • Amanpour cites Kahane referring to Arabs as “dogs” but she ignores all the obscene verbal characterizations of and attacks on Jews by mainstream, senior PA leaders, clerics and spokesmen. Two examples: In April 2007, the acting Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Dr. Ahmad Bahar, called for the murder of every Jew and American saying, “Allah, take hold of the Jews and their allies, Allah, take hold of the Americans and their allies… Allah, count them and kill them to the last one and don’t leave even one” (PA TV, April 20, translation courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch, April 30). Also, in May 2005, the PA-appointed cleric, Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris, delivered a sermon in which he stated that “the Jews are a virus resembling AIDS” ( Al-Hayat (London), May 19, 2005, ‘Palestinian Friday Sermon by Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris: Muslims Will Rule America and Britain, Jews Are a Virus Resembling AIDS ,’ Middle East Media Research Institute, TV Monitor Project, May 13, 2005).

  • Amanpour falsely claims that there is “Jewish terror to match Palestinian terror .” Amanpour makes this statement in reference to a failed Jewish terrorist act, suggesting that the exceedingly rare incidents of Jewish terror, resulting in casualties figures in two digits, in any way equates with literally tens of thousands of terrorist acts launched against Israelis that have resulted in thousands of dead and maimed. Rather than noting the remarkable restraint of an Israeli society that hardly ever produces terrorists despite years of incessant, sometimes daily, terror causing carnage in Israeli streets, Amanpour suggests that the two societies are on par. An additional method used by Amanpour to minimize Palestinian terror is to use euphemistic language to describe it that doesn’t mention its victims. For example, she stated that during the so-called ‘second intifadah’ “Israelis buses, restaurants and markets were being attacked.” She didn’t say that hundreds of Israeli Jewish people were being massacred by Palestinian Arabs terrorists — but refers only to buses, restaurants and markets being attacked. (In contrast, when she referred to Baruch Goldstein’s 1994 killing of Arabs in Hebron, she did not describe it merely as an attack on a mosque but spoke of him having “murdered 29 Muslims and injured at least 150 more”).

  • Amanpour falsely claims that the so-called ‘second intifadah’ (i.e. the Palestinian terror campaign launched in September 2000) “paralyzed the peace process.” The peace process failed because Palestinians and their leaders did not accept the idea of negotiating a final peace settlement with Israel that accepted its permanence as Jewish state, not because of the terror campaign that Yasser Arafat orchestrated to obscure the fact of his rejection Ehud Barak’s peace offer at Camp David in 2000. Even before 2000, the endemic Palestinian violations, terror, incitement to hatred and murder within the PA undermined the belief and trust of Israelis in the possibility of peace with the Palestinians.

Amanpour falsely claims that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate organization. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, an admirer of and correspondent with Hitler, and modeled much of its program and youth movements on the fascist movements then arising in Europe. Its followers assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981 because he signed a peace treaty with Israel. It also has produced extremist intellectuals, like Sayyed Qutb and others who were the precursors of Al-Qaeda. Its Palestinian branch, Hamas, is a terror movement committed in its Charter to the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews.

Klein concluded, “The ZOA condemns Christiane Amanpour and CNN’s pervasively biased, distorted and false depiction of the Arab war on Israel in this series as some sort of clash of religious fanaticisms in which fanatic Jews, fanatic Christians and fanatic Muslims are equally liable. In this program, history and truth have been distorted to serve the politically correct lie that Muslim extremism is but one and perhaps not even the most important factor in the current problems of the world. Israel has been a stable, democratic state with freedom of religion and separation of powers from the first day of its independence and it is simply a lie to pretend that Jewish religious extremism poses any comparable threat to the world. This program is virtually a case of blaming the victim. We fully agree with MSNBC’s Dan Abrams, who said of this program, ‘CNN should have called this program what it was — a defense of Islamic fundamentalism and the worse type of moral relativism.’ With this series, Amanpour and CNN have hit a new low point. They owe all Christians and Jews an apology and further have an obligation to make amends by broadcasting a factual and truthful account of the history of this conflict and the special danger Islamist extremism poses at present to the world.”

The ZOA urges all people of goodwill to call CNN (Jonathan Klein, President of CNN, at 212. 275. 7800) to demand that CNN undertake to correct the numerous errors of fact in this series before it is re-broadcast and to produce a program of equal length to rectify the imbalance inherent in the original program.

People can also call CNN to leave a message on the comment line (404. 827. 1500) or submit a comment to CNN at http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/form6a.html2.

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