Chesler Chronicles

CNN'S Master Plan: Part One

As you read this, I will be away from my desk. While I am gone, I will be posting a mini-retrospective of some of my previously published, copy-righted work. The articles seem to hold up. In some cases, I will introduce the piece. In most instances, I will let the piece speak for itself.

(This originally appeared as a blog on my own website. It was written before I started writing a blog for Pajamas Media. It also appeared in The Jewish Press.)

CNN’S Master Plan: Part One

Dhabah Almontaser, the nearly anointed principal of Brooklyn’s madrassa and CNN’s fully anointed Christiane Amanpour both agree that in Arabic, “Intifada” means a “shaking off.” Amanpour gave an example of how to use the word by saying that “Palestinian (terrorists) were (merely) shaking off the Israeli Occupation;” Almontaser, when challenged about the infamous tee-shirts, said that “Intifada-NYC” referred to young Muslim girls “shaking off oppression.”

In November of 2005, Fox’s O’Reilly showed live footage of the French Intifada as it raged in Paris. According to WorldNetDaily, Saudi billionaire Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, (aka Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud), who owns 5-6% of the Fox News Channel, personally called Rupert Murdoch and asked him to change the offensive (but accurate) caption: “Muslim Riots” to the less offensive (and less accurate) “Civil Riots.” Within thirty minutes, the Prince had his way.

To paraphrase New York Post columnist Cindy Adams: Only in America kids, only in America.

Our fine Saudi prince also owns shares in Times-Warner/AOL/CNN, which he first acquired in 2002. According to Forbes, the London Guardian, and other media outlets, in 2002 the Prince “claimed to own 1.4 billion in AOL stock…in 2003 he bought another 450 million of AOL stock.” God knows what he owns now. (Yes, he’s the very Prince whom Presidential hopeful Rudy Guiliani humiliated when he refused to accept his ten million dollar donation for humanitarian aid immediately following 9/11).

Has bin Talal’s ownership influenced Amanpour’s highly touted, highly slanted, and highly tedious three part series “God’s Warriors?” I have no inside information here but I doubt that any overt bribes were involved.

Amanpour dresses in safari-like bush jackets but they are never grungy, and are in fact glamorous in color and fit. She is no Oriana Fallaci, no Susan Sontag, but is probably the best CNN has to offer in terms of Talking Heads who presumably think. To those unfamiliar with Amanpour’s background, she lived in London (still does), attended schools in America, and her husband, James Rubin, is Jewish. He once worked for former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright–another Jew who did not know she was one.

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 Tehran, set out to portray Jews as religiously driven terrorists, illegal land-grabbers, and fat-cat American lobbyists with dual 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 often 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 9/11’s 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 terrorist 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 portrayal of Jewish support for an allegedly “illegal,” “racist,” or “apartheid” Jewish “settler state” with a “handful of Jewish terrorists” may now lead to similar 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 reprisals, (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 he 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 pseudonyms. 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 possessions, display female bodies, allow men and women to intermingle in sexually charged ways, drink alcohol, 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.

August 23, 2007