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Tapper and Stephens explain US massacre by citing Palestinian leaders’ supposed calls for violence against Israelis

Media Analysis

Yesterday during a discussion on CNN of who is responsible for the “anti-immigrant” violence in El Paso, Jake Tapper said that leaders can set the wrong tone, and brought in Palestinian leaders and what he contended was their responsibility for violence against Israelis.

Bret Stephens made similar comments on MSNBC today.

Here’s the original Tapper exchange. Phillip Mudd, a CNN counterterrorism analyst, faulted leaders making statements that encourage sociopaths to commit murders. “There is a separation between a tone set by a leader and the acts of a sociopath,” Mudd said. “Nonetheless, the leadership is responsible for tone. Do not give anybody validation for violence by suggesting that immigrants are bad.”

Tapper responded by pivoting from immigrants to Israelis:

And what’s interesting about this theory is that, you know, you hear conservatives all the time rightly so in my opinion talk about the tone set by people in the Arab world. Palestinian leaders talking about — and the way they talk about Israelis, justifying . . . no direct link necessarily between what the leader says and the violence against some poor Israeli girl in a pizzeria. But the idea that you’re validating this hatred. And yet people don’t — and you can’t compare the ideology of Hamas with anything else — but at the same time, either tone matters or doesn’t.

Tapper is getting hammered on Twitter for bringing Palestinians into a discussion of white supremacist violence. On a day when the lieutenant governor of Texas is being savaged for saying the absence of prayer in schools played a role in the killings in El Paso, Tapper is being called out by the left for his surprise interjection. (Partial video here.) 

Tony Karon:

The ideological axe-grinding, the ignorance and moral and intellectual dishonesty of @jaketapper should make you wonder what it is you’re seeing when you’re watching @CNN
– journalism it ain’t

Linda Sarsour:

Somehow Jake Tapper still finds a way to bring the Arab world and Palestinians into a conversation about WHITE SUPREMACISTS murdering innocent people. Disgusting. But hey, when someone shows you who they are, believe them.

Sana Saeed:

This is the height of unethical journalism @jaketapper — you invoke Palestinians & Arabs as a comparison to white nationalist violence in the US?

This is blatant anti-Arab bigotry & Islamophobia. @CNN needs to take action.

Max Blumenthal:

[Tapper] wins the false equivalency cup, conflating Palestinian violence against the apartheid state that besieges, occupies and slaughters them en masse with sadistic killing sprees by white Western fascists against defenseless immigrants. The definition of hasbara.

Eli Valley:

Aside from everything else, the apt comparison would be to Trump’s ideological compatriots in the Israeli government who spew racist, dehumanizing, anti-Arab invective that reverberates throughout a society upheld by state-sanctioned violence.

Chuck Modi brings up the body counts from the onslaught on Gaza five years ago:

Palestinians-Israelis Killed in 2014
1462-6 Dead CIVILIANS
495-1 Dead CHILDREN

That’s just 1 year of stats Jake Tapper will NEVER inform you about.

Adam Johnson does similar math:

Awesome he’s using the Sabbaro bombing from 19 years ago as evidence of Evil Palestinian Rhetoric. Have to skip over a half dozen 500-to-1 body counts in Israel’s favor to get that underdog occupier narrative

(Johnson refers to a 2001 suicide attack in Jerusalem that killed 15.)

Notable among the critics is Tapper’s recent guest, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, a Palestinian-American. Her tweet contains an image of a Palestinian child being arrested by several armed uniformed men.

Comparing Palestinian human rights advocates to terrorist white nationalists is fundamentally a lie. Palestinians want equality, human dignity & to stop the imprisonment of children ⬇️.

White supremacy is calling for the *domination* of one race w/ the use of violence.

Bret Stephens made the same leap as Tapper on MSNBC today, saying that we can understand Trump by reflecting that the Israelis were “absolutely right” to blame Arafat for terrorism against Israelis. Trump is inciting and inveighing in the same way. So it’s not a surprise that someone takes a gun into his hands.

Adam Horowitz, our editor, writes:

“These comments are a sad reminder to me of the cultural signifiers that ‘Palestinians’ play in US popular/media culture. It’s also a useful reminder as to who creates and deploys those signifiers.”

H/t Scott Roth.

James North and Philip Weiss

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14 Responses

  1. brent on August 5, 2019, 2:09 pm

    Like so many others, Tapper fails to appreciate that Jewish supremacy is being advanced in Jerusalem and the Holy Land and the primary victim is the indigenous people who are having apartheid forced upon them.

    The “Israelis are the real victim narrative” is a widespread phenomenon. The persistence of this narrative is used to dominate the political landscape in America and to overlook or justify the aggressions and continued usurpation of Palestinian property, culture and land. This victim narrative sustains the “right to exist” question and is the single most powerful tool of the Greater Israel Project. That it continues to have legs does more to undermine Palestinian dignity and those seeking to bring that situation to a peaceful conclusion, than anything else. Its existence is a significant PR failure and should be of the highest priority. I can think of no more effective way to alter the narrative than for Palestinian citizens to organize and sustain a deliberate campaign for full equality under the law. One customized but modeled on the civil rights movement in America. That would get the attention of Congress, awaken healthy aspects of Judaism and be a positive influence on ending the occupation.

  2. Talkback on August 5, 2019, 2:53 pm

    It’s fascinating when someone claims that resistance against supremacy leads to supremacist violence and turns a belligerent expansionist occupier into a victim. But that wouldn’t be the first time that an Israel supporter’s brain is so twisted that he puts reality on his head.

    What’s next? That Jewish colonists frome Europe and other places were fighting for independence in Palestine? Oh wait, they actually make this idiotic claim and called their war against natives “War for Independence”.

    Hasbara is orwellianism.

  3. Kay24 on August 5, 2019, 4:10 pm

    These are two shameless zionists posing as good Americans. I heard Tapper’s remark, and it was obvious he was not going to follow it up by acknowledging that Israel’s occupation and land grabs, gives the Palestinians good reasons to protest, and show anger. They also did not dare admit that it is Israel that acts on it’s threats, and kills thousands of innocent civilians.
    So many other examples to pick from, yet they cannot resist seizing the opportunity to paint the victims as the aggressors. Scumbags.

  4. eljay on August 5, 2019, 6:29 pm

    … Tapper …

    … no direct link necessarily between what the leader says and the violence … But the idea that you’re validating this hatred. … either tone matters or doesn’t.

    I wonder what Mr. Tapper thinks of the tone set by U.S. presidents and politicians who work diligently to undermine human rights and international laws – and the protections they are meant to afford all people – throughout the world (but perhaps most notably in the Middle East).

  5. JWalters on August 5, 2019, 9:30 pm

    The empire strikes back!

  6. Marnie on August 6, 2019, 6:52 am

    Tapper was completely unglued when Rashida Tlaib schooled him on his idiocy. Looks like he’s trying to get his lick back. POS.

  7. Misterioso on August 6, 2019, 11:21 am


    “Apartheid Is Israel’s ‘Desired Reality’ – June 12, 2019 Posted by Mari Cohen.
    Jewish Currents, June 12/19

    “This month, Amira Hass, who has served as Haaretz’s Occupied Territories correspondent for 30 years, visited Illinois and Iowa to speak to a variety of audiences at events on topics like ‘Israel’s nation-state law’ and ‘The effects of long-term blockade and settler colonialism on the health and welfare of the people of Gaza.’ The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Hass lives in Ramallah, where she is the only Jewish Israeli journalist living in the West Bank. In the 1990s, she spent three years living in Gaza, and eventually compiled her experiences into the award-winning book Drinking the Sea at Gaza. Due to Israeli restrictions, she has not been able to visit Gaza since 2010.

    “I sat down with Hass after she gave an hourlong talk at the McCormick Foundation, a Chicago-based charitable trust. During the talk, titled ‘Speaking truth to power as a journalist,’ Hass described in detail how Israel continually encroaches on Palestinian land in the West Bank, dividing Palestinian communities into smaller disconnected areas that she referred to as ‘enclaves.’ Areas governed by Palestinians are scattered within land controlled by Israel, making it difficult for Palestinian communities to expand infrastructure and move between communities. In her journalistic work, Hass regularly digs into the bureaucratic mechanisms Israel uses to restrict Palestinian people’s freedom of movement and access to land.”

    • brent on August 7, 2019, 1:14 am

      Misterioso, truly a MUST READ interview with Amira Hass for all students of IP. THANK YOU for consistently enlightening Mondo readers!

      It is imperative that Palestinians and their supporters, especially in Israel and Palestine, pay attention to Hass and look seriously at her take on reality unfolding.

      It’s long been a PR imperative to alter the narrative that Israel is the victim and its actions are justified as defensive and defending their right to exist. Hass makes it clear that Palestine is steadily losing ground. The reality she describes indicates the time is coming the only hope will be in a campaign for civil and human rights in the one state that NOW exists. Such a campaign is urgent in order to limit the damage.

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