“false assumptions and outright lies”

Dr Phyllis Chesler responds to CNN and Christiane Amanpour

[..] After watching Amanpour’s segment on the Jews, I was disheartened and outraged. How long will people have to suffer Big Lies on our screens and be forced to react defensively, only after the fact? How much Saudi money might really be involved in CNN’s series? In addition to bin Talal, we do know that the Saudis have been buying up shares in the Western media, (UPI for example), influencing curriculum on campuses, and in some instances, buying certain journalists outright. (There is a scandal about this still under wraps in Europe right now. Stay tuned for an update).

Amanpour, whose father is a Muslim Iranian, her mother British, and who spent the first eleven years of her life in Teheran, set out to portray Jews as religiously driven terrorists, illegal land-grabbers, and fat-cat American lobbyists with duel loyalties. She interviewed former President Carter and John Mearsheimer (but not anyone of stature who can easily rebut what they say). Both men believe that Israel is an apartheid state and that the Zionist lobby controls American foreign policy. (See CAMERA’S excellent point by point refutation of Amanpour).

Amanpour makes sure to track down Israelis who have advised the government that “settling an occupied land” violates the Geneva convention and international law (such as Theodore Meron); the Jewish Israeli lawyers who defend Palestinians and who ofteh successfully, challenge the israeli demolition of Palestinian homes. She has female settlers on camera who allegedly say that they believe Palestinians should be killed or expelled. She shows the security wall at its ugliest without context and she focuses on individual Palestinians who are indeed being seriously harmed by its creation. (No, she does not show the Jews being blown up, week after week, in a non-stop series of 9/11s that might explain the desperate need for such a tragic but strategic structure).

In my no doubt alarmist and paranoid view, she is trying to position American and world Jewish support for Israel as essentially equivalent to American and world Muslim support for Hamas and for other Muslim terorrist organizations who also engage in humanitarian aid and social service projects. Just as the leaders of the Holy Land foundation are being tried as supporters of terrorist organizations in America today, Amanpour’s portryal of Jewish support for an allegedly “illegal,” “racist,” or “apartheid” Jewish “settler state” with a “handful of Jewish terrorists” may now lead to simiilar attempts to shut down American-based fundraising for Israel and to dampen Congressional support for military foreign aid to Israel.

Perhaps Amanpour does not envision this at all but merely wishes to show that there is terrorism on both sides of the divide. But this is not true. While there is indeed a “handful” of “Jewish terrorists” or ideologue of Jewish reprisal, (Meir Kahane, Baruch Goldstein, Yigal Amir, and the Jewish Underground are named), such figures are just that–a handful, and their attempts at indiscriminate violence have either been prevented or immediately and seriously punished by the Israeli government.

Further, Amanpour fails to draw the right conclusions from what she does show on camera. In every instance, Israeli government officials, including former Shin Bet and IDF spokesmen are the ones who prevent Jewish terrorists from striking, who arrest and imprison them when they commit violence, who sentence them to between 7-15 years in jail or to life sentences. There are no posters all over Israel glorifying their violent deeds as there are on the West Bank for their shahids and shahidas and in the no-longer occupied Gaza strip. Israeli textbooks and television videos do not sing their praises in Israel as is the case among the Palestinians.

It gets worse. She views the Muslim claim to Al Aqsa and the Temple Mount, not as equal to but as superior to the ancient Jewish claim. She fails to draw a single conclusion from the fact that Muslims did not–and still do not–allow non-Muslims access to their holy Jewish or Christian religious sites although Jews guarantee that access to all religions.

So, there I was, licking my wounds when I turned on the TV to see Amanpour’s second segment.

Amanpour has never met an Iranian or for that matter a Muslim whom she does not like; yes, even the terrorists and one fundamentalist imam in “the holy city of Quom” receives only a flirtatious wag of her finger when the rather cheerfully admits that women are not allowed to do certain things and are condemned to other things–but that’s for their own good, to protect them. She is warm with him, much less warm with his so-called Israeli counterparts.

She opens her segment on Muslim Warriors with a charming, well-spoken, highly westernized young man, Ed Husain, who was deceived, or who rebelled and became associated with a terrorist group in his native London. Once he realized that they are killing innocent people, even children, he backed away. He has written a book about leaving Islamism.

Ed Husain does not represent most Muslims who at best, remain silent and who do not condemn Islamist imperialism, religious fundamentalism, or America- and Jew-hatred. There are a handful of Muslims who criticize Islam openly. Many are tortured, killed, forced into exile, impoverished, live in hiding, publish under psedonyms. Her interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali was very, very brief –no more than a minute altogether. On the contrary, she kept returning to former nun Karen Armstrong whose views on Jews, Israel, and Zionism are anti-Semitic with a vengeance. Armstrong also defended veiling and compared it her own habit as a nun. (Stay tuned for more to come about this).

As to women? Amanpour does not tell us any stories of honor killings or women who avoided being honor-murdered but instead focuses on a happy, modestly veiled Muslim-American woman who describes how her choice to “cover” is denigrated and held suspect in America.

Each and every portrait of a Muslin or of a Muslin terrorist’s family presents soulful, thoughtful people, perhaps a bit “different” than you and I but still human, likeable, charming–maybe even made of better stuff than you and I in the west who crave material posessions, display female bodies, allow men and women to intermingle in sexually charged ways, drink alchol, and refuse to live in a God-centered world.

Amanpour is worse than all the others (writers mainly) who have been blasting Judaism and Christianity but mainly in order to be able to also blast, but in a lesser way, Islam. The thesis is that we are all guilty, all to blame, that each religion is clannish, “different,” its texts support violence, its extreme followers are but a handful, nothing for the world to worry about.

These are all false assumptions and outright lies.

I will be posting my views of Amanpour on God’s Christian Warriors tommorrow.

August 24, 2007 | 1 Comment »

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1 Comment / 1 Comment

  1. I too found Christiane Amanpour’s documentary despicable Jew hatred at its worst. CNN is not some terrorist internet site — it is watched by millions. This makes such a documentary even more dangerous and frightening when someone like Amanpour decides to attack Israel through manipulation and selective choice of interviewees and twisting of facts. I immediately sent her the following but I have not had anything in response:

    I tried to be as dispassionate as possible while viewing the first episode of God’s Warriors because, when it was announced, I thought that there was a false equivalency being made between Islamic jihad whose stated aim is to capture as much of what is not theirs and then kill those who get in their way; Jews who are passionate about protecting what is theirs and willing to fight rather than flee; and Christians who feel strongly enough about their beliefs to recognize threats (like terrorism) to their existence and who are trying to strongly promote their faith and beliefs in the political realm.

    Christiane Amanpour, you have gone out of your way to find the ugliest and most distorted way to present Israel in a greedy, craven and violent light rather than show it as the success that it is in actuality.

    You have avoided giving any logical context to the many years in which the Arab Muslim world has been trying through war and terrorism to get rid of Israel.

    You have ignored so many facts and have distorted so much in the first episode that I think it was done on purpose to make the real source of danger – Islamic extremists – very happy.

    Indeed, you have provided all the excuses for terrorist activity which in reality has no excuse and no reason to be other than the ones concocted by a media that likes to bash Israel and the USA. In Israel you have free access to the democratic institutions and academics (unlike the targeting and Sharia and Muslim clothing that you as a reporter must deal with in Islamic states if you want to research and find all the faults, the historical context and the state and religious improprieties).

    If you are going to bother to write a series such as this one, it behooves you to check your facts, check the numbers (remember that we live in a world with billions of Christians and Muslims but only 13 million Jews with just one small and threatened homeland).

    I watched the program thinking what the many people watching, young and old, educated and uneducated, must think. The answer is that they now have a lower opinion of Israel, a lower opinion of Jews, a distorted concept of how the State of Israel was formed and why, a respect for terror campaign waged against Israel by Palestinians who you have portrayed as beleaguered and oppressed and occupied by Israel (again the reality is far from the myths that you have deliberately perpetuated).

    I am sorry that you have chosen to go with the stereotypes and the lies rather than doing some creative and honest reporting on your own. You have made at least one group of people very satisfied – the Bin Laden’s, the Ahmadinejad’s and the Nasrallah’s of the world are jumping for joy over your misguided efforts.

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