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PBS ‘News Hour’ allows Congressman to vilify BDS campaign as aimed at Jewish genocide, just like Hitler

Media Analysis
on 22 Comments

The PBS News Hour led off its broadcast last night with coverage of the Israeli ban on U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar entering Palestine. But the broadcast host interviewed no Palestinian or American defender of Palestinians. Just two Zionists: Danny Ayalon, the former Israeli ambassador, and California Congressman Brad Sherman.

Sherman launched an attack on the Boycott campaign that Tlaib and Omar support.

This is not your regular boycott movement. I mean, I’ve got a friend or two who won’t buy a Toyota because they want Japan to stop harvesting whales or stop killing whales. They’re not trying to force every Japanese citizen out of Asia and to be killed or somehow drifted into the Pacific.

But the international leaders of the BDS movement are trying — not try to get Israel to change this or that policy, but to try to remove every Jew from the Middle East. Just as Hitler wanted a Jewish-free Europe, this BDS group wants a Jewish-free Middle East.

The BDS campaign has never had such goals. It is a nonviolent pressure campaign to ensure Palestinian rights: an end to occupation, right of refugees to return, and equal rights inside Israel.

Host Amna Nawaz did not push back at all on the false characterization. She also accepted the idea that Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are anti-Semites, when she asked Ayalon about anti-semites Israel has welcomed.

Israel has also welcomed people who have clearly used anti-Semitic rhetoric in the past. I’m talking about Hungary’s leader Viktor Orban, also an Italian leader, Matteo Salvini. Both of them have been anti-Semites in some of their political language. They were welcomed to Israel. So, what’s the difference?

The New York Times passed along the same slur as fact yesterday in an article on the banning:

Ms. Omar…  has drawn criticism even from fellow Democrats for engaging in anti-Semitic tropes in criticizing Israel…

Omar has been accused of anti-semitism for raising legitimate political questions: 1. She cited the role of campaign contributions in influencing Congress on Israel policy– and in doing so stated a truth that even Jewish members of Congress have acknowledged. 2. She later questioned the “allegiance to a foreign country” of political actors — by implication, a criticism of the role of the Israel lobby that many Jewish writers have also raised. And that Senator J.W. Fulbright once raised as a policy issue about Israel lobbyists.

One must not question U.S. support for Israel! The New York Times editorial page set the tone yesterday by lamenting that Trump and Netanyahu were risking bipartisan U.S. support for Israel.

How sad that two leaders — each desperate to look tough to his own base — are risking a bipartisan relationship built between these two nations over generations.

Maybe it’s good that American politicians criticize Israel? No, the editorial had little to say about Palestinian conditions or the boycott campaign; and was marked by deference to Israel.

It has long been Israel’s mantra that critics of its policies should come see for themselves, and the country is certainly strong enough to handle any criticism from two members of Congress.

“Israel certainly has been strong enough to ignore all criticisms of its human rights violations, in large part because of that bipartisan support the Times fears is being lost,” Donald Johnson writes to me. “This piece reads like something written by people more concerned about Israel’s image than Israel’s human rights record. No deep dive into history is needed for this one. It is such a dumb shallow piece that shows where their real concerns lie.”

How bracing by comparison was Bernie Sanders on Chris Hayes:

“If Israel doesn’t want members of the United States Congress to visit their country…maybe they can respectfully decline the billions of dollars that we give to Israel.”

H/t James North and Adam Horowitz. 

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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22 Responses

  1. brent on August 16, 2019, 12:51 pm

    Public Broadcasting, the Newshour and NPR, have a history of disinformation on the Question of Palestine. There has been a long-standing pattern of not inviting critical guests, like yesterday, or when one is interviewed, not allowing them space to get across relevant considerations and also ignoring relevant facts and news when it happens. In house professionals have long known this problem has existed, but, there is little they can do about it. This tragedy is compounded as MSM often judges its coverage by that of PB and PB is where voters who hope to be better informed often depend upon for information. Few efforts would make as much difference as professionalizing the Newshour and NPR. Its been said we deserve what we countenance.

    This matter with Talib and Omar exposed Israel as hypocritically sharing democratic values in a way that could not be overlooked by America’s Congress. BDS will come into its own when citizens of Israel raise the issue of equality in a way it cannot be ignored. Apartheid is antithetical to democracy and will be rejected when the cards line up.

    • Misterioso on August 17, 2019, 10:22 am

      Attention PBS!!

      Reality:
      https://www.wrmea.org/2019-august-september/from-right-of-return-to-right-to-starve-and-kill.html

      “From Right of Return To Right to Starve and Kill” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, by Walter L. Hixon, 2019 August-September.

      EXCERPT:
      “Today U.S. and Israeli policies aim not merely to starve refugees but also to maim and kill those who attempt to resist. On May 14, 2018, Israel perpetrated a massacre of Palestinian protesters—another staple of Israel’s military policy since 1948—using advanced weaponry to kill 60 protesters and wound hundreds in a single day. The dwindling number of physicians able to treat the wounded described ‘one horrific injury after another’ including massive open wounds, shattered limbs and evidence of ‘bullet fragmentation and shots going through one body into another—clearly illustrating the danger of firing high-velocity live ammunition into a crowd of demonstrators.’

      “Not content to kill protesters, who despite absurd claims to the contrary posed no genuine threat to Israel’s ‘security,’ Israeli forces deliberately targeted health workers and fired on ambulances. ‘Based on numerous interviews with victims and witnesses and corroboration of video footage in a number of instances,’ the World Health Organization “found reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers intentionally shot health workers, despite seeing that they were clearly marked as such.’

      “Throughout its history Israel’s forces have been enabled to kill unarmed protesters, medical workers, and children with virtually no fear of consequences. Massacres and shoot to maim or kill policies reflect the racist contempt for displaced Palestinians that have been promoted and legitimized since the Nakba.

      “While ‘serious human rights violations were committed which may amount to crimes against humanity,’ according to U.N. investigators, the United States has warned that it will police and punish any effort to mobilize the International Criminal Court to challenge either U.S. or Israeli policies.

      “Those of us who have passed even a few hours at the squalid camps can only imagine what it would be like for the Madison Avenue Trumps, Greenblatts, or Kushners to take up residence in Gaza, Aida, Shatila, or any one of the scores of camps set up for people who have been ruthlessly driven from their homes and are daily deprived of the basic human rights of essential nutrition, running water, decent sanitation and rudimentary health care.

      ‘What kind of nation drives people from their homes, incarcerates and starves them in an outdoor prison, and maims and kills when they protest these inhumane conditions? Moreover, what kind of nation relentlessly supports and defends a nation that perpetrates such crimes against humanity?”
      __________________________________________________________________________

      History’s Shadows, a regular column by contributing editor Walter L. Hixson, seeks to place various aspects of Middle East politics and diplomacy in historical perspective. Hixson is the author of Israel’s Armor: The Israel Lobby and the First Generation of the Palestine Conflict (available from Middle East Books and More), along with several other books and journal articles. He has been a professor of history for 36 years, achieving the rank of distinguished professor.

  2. Mooser on August 16, 2019, 1:54 pm

    “BDS will come into its own when citizens of Israel raise the issue of equality in a way it cannot be ignored.”

    You have some funny ideas about what Israeli “citizenship” is. It does not include the right to “raise the issue of equality.” Especially “in a way it cannot be ignored” (WTF?) Also educate yourself about Israel’s Jewish Nation-State Law.

    “Apartheid is antithetical to democracy and will be rejected when the cards line up.”

    Yeah, okay, the Palestinians should depend on the political consciousness of Israel.

  3. bcg on August 16, 2019, 1:54 pm

    I saw the segment on PBS last night and it was truly cringeworthy. I kept asking myself why the only guests they invited to discuss this issue were two Jews – it’s like running a story on the problems Latinos face in the U.S. and only having WASP guests on the panel.

    • JWalters on August 16, 2019, 7:24 pm

      “Cringeworthy” is exactly right. No doubt Brooks & Shields will carry on the traditional obeisance to Zionist donors when they discuss this, IF they even discuss it.

      The Newshour should now have Tlaib and Omar on together, with no Israelis around and no putting words in their mouths. Let the American public assess for themselves the character of these women, their priorities, and their thinking. PBS has been betraying their audiences on this issue.

  4. CigarGod on August 16, 2019, 2:54 pm

    NPR and PBS have always been like this.
    Silly liberal humans think they innoculate themselves against BS by listening to people with better manners.

  5. eljay on August 16, 2019, 6:06 pm

    Compare calls for justice and equality in I-P to Nazism.

    Anti-Semitically conflate Israel, Zionism and Zionists/Zionist organizations with all Jews in order to slander Ms. Omar (among countless others).

    The twisted minds of Zionists like Sherman and Ayalon – who seem willing to say (and perhaps even do) anything to defend and preserve Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine – are a sad and scary place.

  6. Greta on August 16, 2019, 7:57 pm

    We need to write to PBS. It’s allegedly a public broadcasting channel, funded by us (and, of course, corporate interests) Here is my letter and the email you need use to write to them.

    [email protected]

    Dear Ricardo Sandoval-Palos:

    Your program on BDS, a non-violent means for Palestinians and their supporters to protest against the Apartheid State of Israel has ZERO people on to explain why the BDS movement is so important. Instead, you had that Zionist, Brad Sherman on to whine about the dangers of a movement that has never been violent and never will be.

    He conveniently forgets the Anti-Nazi Boycott of 1933 which was a Jewish led international boycott of German products in response to violence and harassment by members of Hitler’s Nazi Party against Jews following his appointment as Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933.

    He doesn’t seem to remember that Apartheid in South Africa was brought down by a world-wide BDS movement that many of us joined.

    I expect better of PBS unless of course, your sponsors have determined that you now need to take the side of the oppressor… Israel, against Christian and Muslim Palestinians.

    Sincerely,

    Greta Berlin, Co-Founder, the Free Gaza movement
    Editor, Freedom Sailors, https://www.amazon.com/Freedom-Sailors-movement-succeeded-ourselves/dp/0615654894

  7. Peter in SF on August 16, 2019, 9:11 pm

    Brad Sherman says:

    But the international leaders of the BDS movement are trying — not try to get Israel to change this or that policy, but to try to remove every Jew from the Middle East. Just as Hitler wanted a Jewish-free Europe, this BDS group wants a Jewish-free Middle East.

    Phil Weiss responds:

    The BDS campaign has never had such goals. It is a nonviolent pressure campaign to ensure Palestinian rights: an end to occupation, right of refugees to return, and equal rights inside Israel.

    Brad Sherman is a Harvard-trained lawyer. He wasn’t talking about the actual written goals of the campaign, which anyone can decide to join if they agree with those goals. No, he was talking about the goals of the international leaders of the BDS movement.

    I posted about this last night and said that if PBS takes Sherman seriously, it should interview an international BDS leader or two, in order to expose their dangerous agenda. But on second thought, Hamas is regularly vilified for it’s supposed positions, but they don’t bring on Hamas spokesmen as guests to interrogate them on those positions, even though Israel de facto recognizes Hamas as a legitimate party leading the subcontracted authority of its occupation in Gaza. Rep. Sherman is trying to demonize BDS movement leaders so that they will never be allowed on.

    When Ahmadinejad was president of Iran, all the commentators would repeat this notion that he wanted to expel all Jews from Palestine. Before he got disgraced, Charlie Rose had Ahmadinejad on his show and tried to take him down on this issue, but he failed utterly. Wouldn’t most Americans like to see the Iranian leader being confronted about his evil intentions? They didn’t, it didn’t get any widespread publicity, because it didn’t work.

    • Talkback on August 17, 2019, 6:52 am

      Peter: “No, he was talking about the goals of the international leaders of the BDS movement.”

      Who are these and where did they declare that they want to expell Jews?

      • CigarGod on August 17, 2019, 10:20 am

        Yes, please.
        Who are they…or is Peter just referring to random, well known Palestinian voices?

      • Misterioso on August 17, 2019, 10:50 am

        @Talkback

        Memo to Peter:

        Yes, please tell us what BDS leaders are calling for the expulsion of Jews and where and when they so stated.

      • Peter in SF on August 18, 2019, 1:06 am

        Oops, I replied to this in the wrong place. (See my other comment below.)
        I’m not trying to say Rep. Sherman is correct about “the goals of the international leaders of the BDS movement”, just that his statement makes a distinction between those and the explicit goals of the BDS movement, which were listed by Phil. I’ve noticed that anti-BDS activists try hard to avoid stating the 3 stated goals of the BDS movement.

  8. Peter in SF on August 17, 2019, 11:53 am

    That’s what she should have asked him, instead of taking his word for it and asking if Tlaib and Omar had the same view. Of course, journalists and constituents are still free to ask him the question, now that he’s said this on national TV.

    From my experience watching anti-BDS activists, I’ve got a good idea of what he would say. He would name Omar Barghouti and quote him opposing a Jewish state. The rest of the argument is then that without a Jewish state, no Jews would live in the Middle East.

  9. Boomer on August 17, 2019, 12:06 pm

    I used to think that PBS Newshour was actually better on Palestine/Israel than NPR. Admittedly, that isn’t saying much, but it was something.

      • echinococcus on August 17, 2019, 8:58 pm

        I disagree, Mooser. It won’t get better. TV must be completely cleansed from these war supporters and critics of Zionism. Buchanan coming back would make 2 of them in all of the TV sphere and that’s scary.
        Instead, we must have wall-to-wall warmongers and Zionists in mainstream “media”. Even a single exception will spoil the fun.

      • Mooser on August 18, 2019, 4:04 pm

        “I disagree, Mooser.”

        I despise Pat Buchanan. I was being sarcastic.

      • echinococcus on August 18, 2019, 5:08 pm

        Mooser

        Were you, now? Really, you despise Buchanan — what a surprise! I mean, he’s an anti-Zionist and he’s certainly been opposed to all the wars aggression waged by your wing or the other wing of the Single Party. Including the rape of Libya and Syria, cheered on by many people here. Of course that’s to be despised, and you must join forces with all the warmongers and Zionists (provided they’re liberal, of course!) to avoid this catastrophe.

        That’s some masterful use of irony, now, ain’t it? Even though you so improperly call it “sarcasm”.

      • Mooser on August 18, 2019, 5:25 pm

        Maybe I can hold my breath until we reach the ground floor.

  10. Rashers2 on August 19, 2019, 8:34 am

    “PBS ‘News Hour’ allows Congressman to vilify BDS campaign as aimed at Jewish genocide, just like Hitler” – so many things likened to ‘Nazism’ and ‘Hitler’ – and yet the likening of Israeli policies and actions to European Fascism is streng verboten under the ridiculous and fatally-flawed IHRA anti-Semitism definition (with examples) that every political organisation seems now to be falling over itself to adopt. Not that it’s directly related to the anti-BDS campaign but, today, I came across this:
    https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2019/08/israeli-political-party-declares-lgbtq-people-nazis-palestinian-suicide-bombers/?utm_source=LGBTQ+Nation+Subscribers&utm_campaign=f87151dc45-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_08_16_04_20&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c4eab596bd-f87151dc45-429809189 My scepticism of Israeli ‘pinkwashing’ (already on record) is not the point: the point is that it’s fine for the other side to use Nazi analogies ad nauseam, in the most ludicrous of contexts and to the extent of their utter devaluation and debasement; but not for critics of Zionism – sorry, ‘anti-Semites’ – to do so, even when the parallel may by any objective standard be inescapable.

  11. James Canning on August 19, 2019, 3:39 pm

    What utter rubbish from Danny Ayalon & Brad Sherman. Will these two gentlemen please tell the world what is to become of the millions of non-Jews living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank?

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