Chris Matthews acknowledges that Israel is ‘shutting off the chance for any real’ Palestinian state

on 26 Comments
Matson cartoon
Matson cartoon

Everyone knows what the Hagel hearings were about: Israel, as the great Matson cartoon in Roll Call shows us. But for Chris Matthews, this subject is still the emperor’s new clothes. Last night he refused to talk about the Israel lobby in our politics, before performing an enormous service by telling viewers that the two-state solution is on its deathbed, the words in my headline.

The journalistic dereliction came first: in characterizing the opposition to Chuck Hagel as coming from Republican hawks, Matthews mentioned that Israel had been brought up often during the Senate confirmation hearing Thursday; but he did not say that it was also Democratic hawks who clamored for unilateral sanctions and the military option against Iran, Democratic hawks who wanted Hagel to affirm his devotion to Israel. This blindness to pro-Israel militarism among liberals is typical of Matthews. He ascribes the Iraq war to neoconservatives and Republicans, and cannot acknowledge the role that Democrats who dreamed of remaking the Middle East played in pushing that disaster.  

Matthews then did a great service by promoting the Israeli anti-occupation documentary, The Gatekeepers, and using the cover of an interview with an Israeli liberal– the movie’s director Dror Moreh– to bewail what Israel has done to itself.

The film takes a look at “Israel’s legendary Shin Bet,” the former heads of the Israeli security service, Matthews said–

“and the surprise here is that they sound a lot more like Chuck Hagel than Bibi Netanyahu. The six men argue that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank has led to human suffering on the part of Palestinians, and been bad for Israel itself. I’ve known that myself.”

Oh so now we learn that Chuck Hagel has been critical of Israel, and Chris Matthews has observed Palestinian suffering. I wish he had informed us about these views without requiring an Israeli guest’s approval. 

Matthews then said that in calling for negotiations with Hamas, “these [Shin Bet] men wouldn’t fit in very well in the Republican Party” of Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham. This is a misrepresentation: they wouldn’t fit well in the Democratic Party either. Throughout the Hagel hearing, the Democrats insisted that no one should talk to Hamas. 

I’m getting to the good part. At 2:39 of the video, Matthews slammed Netanyahu’s decision to build settlements in the E-1 corridor outside Jerusalem, “basically…cutting off the loop,” cutting off the West Bank from East Jerusalem.

“For me I’ve been over there many times, it looked like he was shutting off the chance for any real second state over there for Palestinians.”

I believe that chance was shut off a long time ago. “Let’s say it clearly and categorically: the two-state solution is dead,” Jeff Halper, who studies East Jerusalem settlements, says. Still, it is good that this knowledge is at last seeping into the American mainstream; and yes, I wish Matthews had told us this after his last visit.

That was as daring as Matthews could get. He used Moreh’s film, as the New York Times has, to attempt to revive the two state solution. “I always like to be optimistic about that country,” Matthews said, asking if there was not a chance in the next 20 years for a middle class to grow on the West Bank to the point that Palestinians would punish other Palestinians for killing Jews. Matthews’s Rx sounds a lot like Avigdor Lieberman’s assertion that all that matters is that Palestinians attain $10,000 GDP per capita to give up their rebellious ideas. Well, I’m sorry, but I hear an American voice crying: Taxation without representation is tyranny.

Matthews concluded with the usual nostalgia for Yitzhak Rabin and the statement to viewers that Gatekeepers is “going to inform this country that your politics is as turbulent and sometimes as divisive as ours.” Translation: I need cover from Israelis to say one word against the occupation.

I wish Matthews would also watch “5 Broken Cameras.” It is also nominated for an Oscar. A great film about the occupation, showing the actual suffering of Palestinians, it is told by the victims of Jim Crow, not the regretful sheriffs.

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26 Responses

  1. jimmy
    February 2, 2013, 11:30 am

    how dare he say such a thing….

    our dear leaders have to convene immediately to decide whether he stays or goes

    nothing ever negative can be said about our dear leaders homeland

    couldnt you be committed in europe for saying something like that

  2. Kathleen
    February 2, 2013, 12:00 pm

    My sense is Chris comes here, Foreign Policy and Going to Iran to read but would never say that on his program. I have been linking over at his blog site to this place, Going to Tehran, Emptywheel’s etc for quite some time. Have begged him to have the Leveretts, Marcy Wheel (know he would like her no nonsense style) on his program but he is just too chicken shit. He had Amy Goodman on once. Katrina scares him. He now has Steve Clemons on a fair amount to say the things he chooses to not say. That huge check he gets trumps all else. Lately he has been pushing hard for Hillary Clinton a politician that he used to relentlessly pick on. Now I think he and Bill are buddy buddy after Matthews did that special on Clinton.

    Chris is sticking the tips of his toes into this issue but very slowly$$$$$

    Matthews always brings up that he is a film buff hopefully he watches 5 Broken Cameras. Not holding my breath.

    If the US ends up supporting a pre-emptive and unnecessary strike on Iran later on after thousands are killed etc Chris will say I WAS ALWAYS AGAINST A STRIKE ON IRAN just as he has on the Iraq invasion. While never NEVER going so far as to have those who are questioning the reasons for a strike or the validity of what Israel and the I lobby keep saying about Iran on his program. He has an opportunity to really educate the public about the situation with Iran by having the Leveretts on and he does not.

    He has the power and opportunity to educate the public about the facts on the ground in the I/P conflict by having guest on who are fact based and he does not. When it comes down to it Chris is a coward on this issue. A true coward

    • Les
      February 2, 2013, 12:47 pm

      We all know where Rachel Madow fears to tread.

      • Kathleen
        February 2, 2013, 5:15 pm

        If the Palestinians were all gay she would be all over the story

      • W.Jones
        February 2, 2013, 7:16 pm


        I am not sure she would even if they were the Lesbbowstinians, because it would be rocking her career boat alot, and despite her “up front” attitude she generally avoids that, doesn’t she?

        I mean, how about an expose on black single mothers’ very low wages in Walmart and in businesses across the country.

    • Don
      February 2, 2013, 12:58 pm

      “…but he is just too chicken shit.”

      Perhaps…but I wonder how long he would have his job if he addressed this issue honestly? I am guessing he would get to address the issue once, maybe twice…then poof…obscurity.

      • Donald
        February 2, 2013, 1:19 pm

        Chris Hayes does address the Israel/Palestine/Iran issue in a smart and knowledgeable way and I sometimes wonder why. I’m guessing that the Saturday/Sunday morning slot isn’t as important, though of course people do treat the network morning shows on Sunday as newsmaking events.

        All ideology aside, if you compare the intellectual level of the weekday evening shows on the cable networks vs Chris Hayes the difference is dramatic. Rachel is presumably the best of the evening shows and she often treats her audience like morons. Chris Matthews is a moron, or at least has adopted that persona. Hayes has genuinely intelligent discussions on his show. Obviously the network doesn’t think there is a market for too much of that sort of thing.

      • MRW
        February 2, 2013, 2:30 pm

        The owners live in NYC. They think no one watches Sat. AM TV.

      • W.Jones
        February 2, 2013, 3:01 pm

        ” Rachel is presumably the best of the evening shows and she often treats her audience like morons.” youre right.

      • W.Jones
        February 2, 2013, 3:19 pm

        She has a hard hitting attitude as an ambitious woman, so I think would best be talking about women’s political rights or how women work full jobs and should get equal pay. But I don’t even imagine her doing a segment on all the women who work at Walmart and get minimal wage for their single-mother families. Or all the college educated women getting scraps as waitresses- poor things. Because that would be rocking the boat too much, and Maddow is in a cruise ship.

        It comes off like you said, that she is talking strongly to a moderate-liberal middle class chat group, talking to them like they are dimwits and need to get with the program. But without telling them things that are really new. I liked Olbermann better. As for women, Amy Goodman of course, which is why Goodman, who really does have hardhitting info is not on, and Maddow is.

        In conclusion, I do think Maddow is helpful, because she does bring a voice that talks about caring for people. That’s my impression. I just don’t think she really brings new, hard-hitting reporting, despite her mannerisms.

      • Kathleen
        February 2, 2013, 5:08 pm

        Rachel Maddow is either a chicken shit or totally with the I lobby. She has often repeated the Israel/I lobby talking points on Iran. At the beginning of the Arab spring it was interesting to watch and listen to Rachel/Richard Engel cover Tunisia, Egypt, Libya skip over the Palestinian peaceful protest to cover Iran protest. This happened over and over and over again. I stopped watching Rachel just to show boat.

        Al Sharpton, Ed, Martin Bashir, Rachel and Lawrence O’Donnell are all in the same boat on this issue..avoid avoid avoid. Dylan Ratigan went there first on his program when he had Glen Greenwald on and they wiped up the floor with Cliff May gasping for air This is a must watch
        “Israel is at the center of all of this”
        Dylan Ratigan, Glenn Greenwald, Cliff May/Iran

      • Les
        February 2, 2013, 7:18 pm

        “Saturday/Sunday morning slot isn’t as important” because it is no secret that their function os to be an echo chamber.

      • W.Jones
        February 2, 2013, 7:33 pm

        Kathleen and Donald:

        Regarding Maddow’s views, here are three stories:

        (1)Her story of Tuesday, December 30, 2008
        (A)Rachel Maddow: A Big Fat Idiot on Gaza

        (B) An excerpt from an article complaining that she was too pro-Gaza

        Israel has started another war. A third straight day of airstrikes on Gaza, the death toll now more than 300 people. Israel says they are doing this to prevent Palestinians from firing rockets into southern Israel. First of all, there’s the question of proportionality as to how many people those rockets have killed versus how many people the Israeli bombing has now killed.

        (2) June 15, 2010
        Palestine: Rachel Maddow Media Shill Video

        (3) Nov. 2012

        a producer for Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program, the long-time liberal… Steve Benen, gloated that the GOP’s election-year attacks on Obama over Israel have been proven false because… “An Israeli official close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Obama administration’s response to the conflict ‘has been everything we could ever hope for.'”

  3. Kathleen
    February 2, 2013, 12:23 pm

    Looks and sounds like Chris is jumping on the better late than never crowd band wagon which of course is a welcome change but could easily be too little too late But he pulls back into the good graces of the I lobby by basically saying that Jewish lives are more important more valuable than Palestinians lives. Pathetic. Just keep thinking about Vanessa Redgrave coming out in 1976 and standing up in a somewhat hostile crowd and standing up to Zionism

  4. peeesss
    February 2, 2013, 12:35 pm

    Your point about a film showing the actual suffering of the Palestinians to be told by the victims, not the “regretful sheriffs” is right on point. Golda Meir of Wisconsin said most famously of her anger at the Palestinians, for making her children{Israeli } unleach the horrendous violence upon Palestinian children . Their emotional status was the crux of the matter. Imagine if Nazi leaders blamed the Jews for making their children {German} terrorize Jewish children. This blaming the victims even by so called “liberal” thinking people is truly more nauseating than the Avigdor Liebermans. Oh btw Golda Meir did not believe there were a Palestinian people at all. And now all the talk from “Liberal” Zionists about the occupation destroying the Israeli{Jewish} State if not ended somehow comes out of the same thought process. The demographic problem, that the Palestinian {Arab} birthrate will in 20-30 years supposedly change the “character” of the Jewish State and that cannot be countenanced. Not the daily evil of occupation, the checkpoints, the beatings, the torture, murder. The confiscation of more and more land. Demolishment of homes. Prison , torture, humiliation, child abuse, and of course, Cast Led, and Pillar of something or other. No the possibility of the “Jewish character ” of the State being in difficulty is the problem to our “Liberal” brothers and sisters. When will they ask forgiveness to this obscene injustice done to a People, a culture, a civilization . For the past century, from the Zionist own lips, they have been hell bent on eliminating , as much as possible, the Palestinian identity from “Eretz Israel”. Liberal and Zionist is a difficult mix.

    • Les
      February 2, 2013, 7:30 pm

      Golda Meir, a remarkably unsophisticated person which is why those in charge kept her out of the loop. The classic is when she, dressed as some kind of robed Palestinian, made a dramatic announcement that she was going on a kind of underground mission to meet with the Palestinian leader in East Jerusalem who she did not know had long been on Israel’s payroll.

  5. Les
    February 2, 2013, 12:45 pm

    What a wonderful cartoon. Not ready for the NY Times though.

    The Hagel Circus: It’s All About Israel

  6. peeesss
    February 2, 2013, 12:53 pm

    Oh and this Matthews guy. This guy is a careerist. He is not going to be up front on this I/P issue. Only when it is safe {doubtful}, will Matthews say anything of substance . Look at poor Chuck Hagel eating all his words, groveling before the Zionist owned inquisitors, bowed head. Matthews won’t put himself in that position.

  7. Donald
    February 2, 2013, 1:07 pm

    ” told by the victims of Jim Crow, not the regretful sheriffs.”

    That’s the key point. Palestinians are only important in the world of American punditry as obstacles or dangers to Israel’s future existence as a Jewish state. They have no importance in and of themselves and so they don’t get to speak for themselves. So criticism of Israel has to come from Israelis, preferably “toughminded” types who have blood on their hands, but have come to think that brute force won’t bring Israel security. Criticism of the West can only come from Westerners who have established their credibility by being wrong for much or most of their life and the criticism has to be based on “pragmatic” motives, not from a basic sense of right or wrong–that only comes into play when talking about what non-Westerners do.

  8. MRW
    February 2, 2013, 2:21 pm

    Phil, your Matson cartoon link links to 5 Broken Cameras.

  9. DICKERSON3870
    February 2, 2013, 3:53 pm

    RE: “Oh so now we learn that Chuck Hagel has been critical of Israel, and Chris Matthews has observed Palestinian suffering. I wish he had informed us about these views without requiring an Israeli guest’s approval.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: For cryin’ out loud (to use a good minced oath), have a heart, Phil! ! ! After all, David Cohen of Comcast is one of Chris Matthews’ bosses.


    Naming Weinstein and Comcast chief as bundlers, ‘Forward’ wonders about ‘Jewish influence’ on Obama I/P policy –

    Comcast’s David Cohen is honored at fundraiser for religious nationalist group –

    NBC and the Israel lobby –

    • Kathleen
      February 2, 2013, 5:13 pm

      how can we keep making excuses for Chris Matthews, Rachel, Ed, Al Sharpton, Lawrence, Ed etc avoiding this issue and Chris Hayes taking it on. They all work for Comcast

  10. Kathleen
    February 2, 2013, 5:20 pm

    Vanessa Redgrave telling it like it was and is 37 years ago

  11. LanceThruster
    February 2, 2013, 5:44 pm

    That political cartoon by Matson is brilliant. Maybe the tide is turning at that as normally staunch Zionist Bill Maher in regards to the Hagel nomination mentioned on his latest show something to the effect that all Israel wants is to go to war with Iran and will continue to bully and badger the US congress into doing .

    • jimmy
      February 2, 2013, 8:38 pm

      Israel should be very careful what it wishes for….

      one emp detonated over israel kills no one but renders israel powerless

      all electric gone

  12. southernobserver
    February 3, 2013, 12:26 am

    Reporters Without Borders 2013 Press Freedom Index has just been published. Last year, Israel was ranked 92nd and it sunk a further 20 spaces to 112th this year (out of 179 ranked).,1054.html

    The only liberal democracy: not liberal and not a democracy.

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