Zakaria double-teams Barghouti with two Talking-Points-Zionists

Felson reports:

I am right now watching Fareed Zakaria's show on CNN. Did you catch it? It's good that they put Mustafa Barghouti on, but they double-teamed him with two pro-Israel guys – Yossi Halevi and Yoram Peri. Barghouti did his best, but it was hopeless. Halevi and Peri just keep falling back on the same talking points about Palestinian rejecting a two-state solution in 2000, choosing violence, turning down a divided Jerusalem, etc.

Barghouti kept his cool and made reasonable points, but then Halevi and Peri would respond by saying that he was being hysterical and denying Jewish history. Halevi accused him of going on a "tirade." When Barghouti tried to put his arguments into some historical context, Peri replied that he was "so dismayed" that Barghouti was looking backwards, and that this would get us nowhere. This, of course, was after Peri had used his previous answer to rehash every deceptive pro-Israel talking point from 2000 and 2001.

When I watch shows like this, I try to put myself in the position of a casual viewer, someone who doesn't have any real sense of the issues and history involved. This is the kind of person who is reflective of mass opinion in this country. What kind of signals is he/she picking up on? What arguments are likely to resonate? I don't know how many casual viewers Fareed Zakaria's show has, but sadly, I think what they just saw only reinforced their knee-jerk pro-Israel sentiments. The constant repetition of how the Palestinians turned down peace and chose violence in 2000, no matter how deceptive, resonates — it jibes with the messages these viewers digest from the mass media.

Meanwhile, Barghouti's efforts to talk about the U.N. partition plan and the one-state solution mean nothing to these viewers, who probably couldn't tell you the difference between the West Bank and Israel. Barghouti was most effective when he tried to speak in broad terms about the nature of the conflict, trying to communicate the basic injustice. But this just opened the door for Peri to feign exasperation and to accuse him of living in the past. I hate watching shows like this.

Posted in Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics

{ 25 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. t2t says:

    CNN is like that – it feigns evenhandedness as a means of promoting an agenda, which is why you get 2 zionists versus 1 Palestinian. It's not an accident. But, on the positive side, I'm always amazed at how aware the comments are mainstream media blogs are when it comes to Israel-Palestine. The zionists' arguments are by now air-tight, water-tight and seamless, which is why more and more people just want Israel to disappear.

  2. Dan Kelly says:

    When I watch shows like this, I try to put myself in the position of a casual viewer, someone who doesn't have any real sense of the issues and history involved. This is the kind of person who is reflective of mass opinion in this country. What kind of signals is he/she picking up on? What arguments are likely to resonate? I don't know how many casual viewers Fareed Zakaria's show has, but sadly, I think what they just saw only reinforced their knee-jerk pro-Israel sentiments. The constant repetition of how the Palestinians turned down peace and chose violence in 2000, no matter how deceptive, resonates — it jibes with the messages these viewers digest from the mass media.

    This is what I do too, and I arrive at the same conclusion. But we'll get there – slowly, but we'll get there…

  3. Julian says:

    It was just an out and out ass kicking. Barghouti had no answers to the Palestinians refusing a State and resorting to terror. Barghouti made was a few weak points, but overall he was destroyed.

  4. LeaNder says:

    Strictly the average viewer will notice that there are two against one. The person in the situation has to use that basic sympathy resulting from seeing such an unbalanced set.

    People like Barghouti should be really well trained for media and especially for such encounters. Did you notice basic strategies of the two? Or was it only that they got more time? Did they repeat each others message in other words? Enforcing each others message? I think it's not important how long you talk, but how effectively hit counterpoints exactly at the center of their arguments. How concentrated you can remain under this situation? Can you remain calm and concentrated. Are you well prepared for the argument of the other side, their tricks?

    It would be interesting to hear from Barghouti about his experience. Did he get his points across or did he feel he was lured away from them?

    Admittedly, I am watching these matters too. E.g. I notice that people deviating too far off received wisdom–not only on this but also on other topics–get very effectively interrupted by hosts over here. … Concerning Israel I once watched a rather effective choreography of the images, camera angles, close ups, hands, movements, resulting in what felt as a parallel message. Obviously this is something you can't control. I noticed it only on a subliminal emotional level. I'll study that show more closely one day.

    Not long ago I wondered. Somebody that I consider one of the few sane minds on the War on Terrorism as commentator on TV came across like a raving madman in a larger setting on the issue. Especially on emotionally loaded topics people should not take anything for granted but get media training and learn how to relax.

  5. LeaNder says:

    And be 200% percent prepared for the argument. It's repetitive anyway.

  6. spuxxx says:

    You can see a version of the segment online:
    link to edition.cnn.com

    It wasn't the mauling I expected after seeing the original post and I hope to see more of Mr. Barghouti.

  7. Scott says:

    Yes, agree with spuxxx. I watched more than half, eight minutes. Barghouti made solid points, seemed attractive, sensitive, Western, passionate, sensitive, etc. Yossi seemed adept at spinning. Zakaria is basically good on this issue, and probably chose two Israelis for balance. At half time, the second one hadn't been heard from. Score at half time: Pals: 10, Israelis 7.

  8. LeaNder says:

    Actually, I think Barghouti did quite well. He is very impressive.

    One thing though. Obviously he is right in using the mirror image. But what happens is that his verbal attack is turned around and used against him. I can see the problem. Israel's view is well established. But the majority out there has no idea about the Palestinian side.

    It would be very interesting to see the whole interview. How long is it? Barghouti clearly gets his talking points across. Yes, the question is how do people nourished only on the Israeli narrative experience him. I'd like to read a survey on that.

    The other side's two representatives are well chosen. The medic confronts two media specialists. So they are aware he represents his people quite well. Maybe too well from their perspective.

  9. Sam says:

    I thought Barghouti did very well.

  10. Eurosabra says:

    Don't forget that above all else Yossi Klein Halevy is a social historian of religion, a religious Jew with social ties to the clergy of all of Jerusalem's major faith communities, and more likely than most religious Jews to be sympathetic to a Palestinian religious or secular narrative. If you can't sell him on something like the Saudi Proposal or the Geneva Accord, it really means you can't meet Israelis even half-way, and frankly, Barghouti is selling 1936 or 1947, which is a non-starter even for people like Klein Halevy who know in their bones how rooted Palestinians and Islam are in the Holy Land. From their perspective, two states is not really on offer since Arafat started a war to avoid it, and as long as nothing improves, the status quo is tenable for Israelis in a way it isn't for Palestinians. No surprise that they were talking past each other, they really ARE. But Halevy knows positive things about Palestinian religious life that Barghouti can never acknowledge about Jewish religious life as a Palestinian secularist, so it is totally disheartening to see that the Israelis and Palestinians with the closest political positions–secular Left egalitarianism with respect for religion–cannot reach any point of agreement.

  11. Scott says:

    Re Eurosabra: Oh what a delight to encounter sophisticated hasbarist spin after my three glasses of wine. You can sell Barghouti on 1947, there is nothing he said that implied you can't. And Arafat didn't "start a war"– the Mitchell commission said that Sharon's trek up to the Temple Mount with an armed company helped provoked a spontaneous disgust uprising. (What are you guys going to do about Mitchell? Call him a liar? Hope he's too old to make a difference? Stall?) It's academic word spinning to say that Barghouti can never "acknowledge" things about Jewish religious life, you know it. My guess: before an American audience, you'd much rather confront an Islamist than a secularist.

  12. Scott says:

    Oh right, it's Halevy who won't accept partion along '47 or '49 lines. Even with some slight, equitable adjustments. My mistake. Okay, Eurosabra, let's see if Israel can sell that to the West.

  13. Eurosabra says:

    No, ignore Mitchell until he comes up with an acceptable proposal that doesn't involve negotiating with Palestinian terrorists while they are still committed to terror. Inform him that Britain got more or less the settlement it needed because the IRA admitted defeat, and that Israel will hold out for something similar, no matter how much it hurts the PLO or Hamas. Remind him that he is an old man in a hurry, and the Jews have waited an eternity for their state and won't yield it to paper lies. Barghouti has the problem that he has no mass movement, 2.5% of the vote, no credibility and no leverage on the men with the guns and rockets, so there is nothing to answer, he is one man with a few ideas about putting '47 back on the table when even that is unacceptable to the Palestinian national movement as giving "too much" to the Jews.

    Israel doesn't need to "sell" anything to the West, because it IS an "Eastern" nation, although Islamofascist supporters continue to see Levantine Jews as uppity dhimmis.

  14. Rowan says:

    Notice Eurosabra's would-be 'subliminal' attempt to induce white u.s. liberal guilt, by means of the use of the word 'uppity', suggesting a parallel between 'uppity Jews' and 'uppity niggers'.

  15. John Hannanhan says:

    The Palestinians are the ones fighting occupation and theft of their land, not the Israelis. The immigrant Irish I know totally support and identify with the Palestinians.

  16. Query says:

    "Israel doesn't need to "sell" anything to the West, because it IS an "Eastern" nation, although Islamofascist supporters continue to see Levantine Jews as uppity dhimmis."

    Gee. Every time I hear a US congress person or White White house press agent they refer to Israel directly, or by direct implication, as the only Western-style country in the Middle East. Something wrong with my TV?

    What is an "Islamofascist?" Anything like a "Zionistofascist?

  17. LeaNder says:

    it really means you can't meet Israelis even half-way, and frankly, Barghouti is selling 1936 or 1947, which is a non-starter even for people like Klein Halevy who know in their bones how rooted Palestinians and Islam are in the Holy Land.

    You are using the same distortion technique as Barghouti's opponents. The problem is, you aren't correct. But this is exactly one of the arguments were he should carefully cover his flanks.

    Without going back and checking, Barghouti is alluding to the initial partition plan. He basically states that the Palestinians would effectively accept half of what that plan granted them, but not less. He means pre-1967 occupation borders.

    Sometimes I wonder if Israel's image of the "Arab mind" is nothing more but repressed guilt.

    But I guess you would argue, that Palestine should be integrated into Jordan, since there is enough space there? Correct? While Israel is such a tiny vulnerable place?

  18. Eurosabra says:

    A powerless man, with 2.5% of the vote, whose non-democratic society is controlled by terrorists, proposes to treat with Israel regarding his maximal demands. Israel needs Barghouti if there is to be peace, but he becomes a traitor and a sell-out if it does anything to support him. Always a double bind.

  19. marc b. says:

    Remind him that he is an old man in a hurry, and the Jews have waited an eternity for their state and won't yield it to paper lies.

    There we have it in a nutshell. Israel is a gift from God, therefore the Israeli position is unassailable. (Note the hyperbolic misuse of the word 'eternity'. You can almost hear Charlton Heston reading the line.) With this ideology as the founding myth of the modern Israeli state, a pluralistic democracy is impossible. And contrary to the dominant media narrative, Israel is a theocracy, not a democracy, as evidenced by its treatment of the Jerusalem question and other matters.

  20. Citizen says:

    True, marc b. Similarly, the USA is a plutocracy, as evidence by how USA decision makers actually gain and keep power.

  21. Chris Berel says:

    But I guess you would argue, that Palestine should be integrated into Jordan, since there is enough space there? Correct? While Israel is such a tiny vulnerable place?

    Posted by: LeaNder | February 16, 2009 at 12:09 PM

    The remainder of the land was integrated into Jordan. And if they hadn't been shamed into bombarding Israel in 1967, it would still be part of j0rdan.

  22. LeaNder says:

    Chris, I know this. I read a lot during the last decade. I also read both books by Avi Shlaim, the Jordan specialist, on the issue. And I still don't agree with you. Maybe I should write not anymore. My views changed a lot during the last decade.

  23. Eurosabra says:

    Since Israeli-Palestinians are overwhelmingly represented by the Islamic Movement, and its front party, Ra'am-Ta'al, and other Arab nationalist parties like Balad, they are not interested in a pluralistic multicultural democracy with cross-cultural egalitarian parties like Hadash. Indeed, the pluralistic multiculturalism that exists seems to be in the form of Israeli-Palestinians voting for mainstream Zionist parties, who enforce capitalist hierarchy on Levantine Jews. So there really is no mandate for egalitarianism or tolerance, except from a consciously-mixed, inter-communal Arab and Jewish Left, which is outside both the mainstream Arab opposition AND the mainstream parties and institutions of the State of Israel.

    Other than that, great idea.

  24. Eurosabra says:

    When Umm al-Fahm votes for a mayor from Shas, then we'll have our pluralistic, multicultural democratic "state of all its citizens."

    Otherwise, both Arabs and Jews in Israel are still saying, "What's mine is mine, what's yours is open for discussion", and don't forget that the crucial element in preserving Islamic Waqf property in recent years has been the STATE. THE JEWISH STATE. The theocracy preserving the property rights of Muslim communal (theocratic) institutions. Whereas Hadash would have no problem seizing "Muslim" land for the Glorious Arabo-Jewish Marxist Workers' State.

  25. Citizen says:

    Nothing you say, Euro, can avoid the fact jews came from all parts of the world and stole the native's land in the name of G-D, & in the name of Shoah victims. Everybody knows the Germans had "Gott Mit Uns"
    on their belt buckles. And that the American settlers had their divine mission, justified, mentored by the old testament. No question today anyone who wants to stand up for the victims must side with the palestinian arabs. After Nuremberg, and the American Civil Rights movement and rejection of apartheid S Africa–only racial supremacists justify the occupation. Once that is booted, one can then consider whether the state of Israel has lost its UN & USA funded and diplomatically UN protected right to exist
    as it is currently configured.