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4/17/02


 

THE ROLL CALL OF THE BACKERS OF ZION

By David Podvin

Eric Alterman is a widely admired liberal columnist. Like many progressives, Mr. Alterman feels compelled to improve on the truth when stating his opposition to Israel. In a recent column, his factually unsupported premise was that the Palestinians are getting screwed by the American media:

In most of the world, it is the Palestinian narrative of a dispossessed people that dominates. In the United States, however, the narrative that dominates is Israel’s…

To enhance his contention, Alterman has compiled lists that he claims prove there is an overwhelmingly pro-Israeli bias in the American media:

COLUMNISTS AND COMMENTATORS WHO CAN BE COUNTED UPON TO SUPPORT ISRAEL REFLEXIVELY AND WITHOUT QUALIFICATION:

· George Will, The Washington Post, Newsweek and ABC News
·
William Safire, The New York Times
·
A.M. Rosenthal, The New York Daily News, formerly Executive Editor of and later columnist for, The New York
      Times,
·
Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, PBS, Time, and The Weekly Standard, formerly of the New
      Republic.
·
Michael Kelly, The Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, National Journal, and MSNBC.com, formerly of The
      New Republic and The New Yorker.
·
Lally Weymouth, The Washington Post and Newsweek
·
Martin Peretz, The New Republic,
·
Daniel Pipes, The New York Post
·
Andrea Peyser, The New York Post
·
Dick Morris, The New York Post
·
Lawrence Kaplan, The New Republic
·
William Bennett, CNN
·
William Kristol, The Washington Post, the Weekly Standard, Fox News, formerly of ABC News
·
Robert Kagan, The Washington Post and The Weekly Standard,
·
Mortimer Zuckerman, US News and World Report (Zuckerman is also Chairman of Conference of Presidents of
      Major American Jewish Organizations ).
·
David Gelertner, The Weekly Standard
·
John Podhoretz, The New York Post and The Weekly Standard
·
Mona Charen, The Washington Times
·
Morton Kondracke, Roll Call, Fox News formerly of The McLaughlin Group, The New Republic and PBS
·
Fred Barnes, The Weekly Standard, Fox News, formerly of The New Republic, The McLaughlin Group, and The
      Baltimore Sun
·
Sid Zion, The New York Post, The New York Daily News,
·
Yossi Klein Halevi The New Republic,
·
Sidney Zion, The New York Post, formerly of The New York Daily News
·
Norman Podhoretz, Commentary,
·
Jonah Goldberg, National Review and CNN
·
Laura Ingraham, CNN, formerly of MSNBC and CBS News
·
Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe
·
Rich Lowry, National Review
·
Andrew Sullivan, The New Republic
·
Seth Lipsky, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Sun, formerly of the Jewish Forward
·
Irving Kristol, The Public Interest, The National Interest and The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page
·
Allan Keyes, MSNBC, WorldNetDaily.com
·
Brit Hume, Fox News
·
John Leo, US News and World Report
·
Robert Bartley, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page
·
John Fund, The Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal, formerly of The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page
·
Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page,
·
Ben Wattenberg, The Washington Times, PBS
·
Tony Snow, Washington Times and Fox News
·
Lawrence Kudlow, National Review and CNBC
·
Alan Dershowitz, Boston Herald, Washington Times
·
David Horowitz, Frontpage.com
·
Jacob Heilbrun, The Los Angeles Times
·
Thomas Sowell, Washington Times
·
Frank Gaffney Jr, Washington Times
·
Emmett Tyrell, American Spectator and New York Sun
·
Cal Thomas, Washington Times
·
Oliver North, Washington Times and Fox News, formerly of MSNBC
·
Michael Ledeen, Jewish World Review
·
William F. Buckley, National Review
·
Bill O’Reilly, Fox News
· Paul Greenberg, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,
· L. Brent Bozell, Washington Times
· Todd Lindberg, Washington Times
· Michael Barone, US News and World Report and The McLaughlin Group
· Ann Coulter, Human Events,
· Linda Chavez, Creators Syndicate
· Cathy Young, Reason Magazine
· Uri Dan, New York Post
· Dr. Laura Schlessinger, morality maven
· Rush Limbaugh, radio host
· Zev Chafets, New York Daily News
       
PUBLICATIONS THAT, FOR REASONS OF OWNER OR EDITORSHIP CAN BE COUNTED UPON TO SUPPORT ISRAEL REFLEXIVELY AND WITHOUT QUALIFICATION:

· The New Republic (Martin Peretz, Michael Steinhardt, Roger Hertog, Owners)
· Commentary (American Jewish Committee, Owner)
· US News and World Report (Mortimer Zuckerman, Owner)
· The New York Daily News (Mortimer Zuckerman, Owner)
· The New York Post (Rupert Murdoch, Owner)
· The Weekly Standard (Rupert Murdoch, Owner)
· The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page (Peter Kann, Editor)
· The Atlantic Monthly (Michael Kelly, Editor)
       
COLUMNISTS LIKELY TO CRITICIZE BOTH ISRAEL AND THE PALESTINIANS, BUT VIEW THEMSELVES TO BE CRITICALLY SUPPORTERS OF ISRAEL, AND ULTIMATELY, WOULD SUPPORT ISRAELI SECURITY OVER PALESTINIAN RIGHTS:

· Thomas Friedman, The New York Times,
· Richard Cohen, The Washington Post and New York Daily News
· Avishai Margolit, The New York Review of Books
· David Remnick, The New Yorker
· Eric Alterman, The Nation and MSNBC.com
· The New York Times Editorial Board
· The Washington Post Editorial Board
       
COLUMNISTS LIKELY TO BE REFLEXIVELY ANTI-ISRAEL AND/OR PRO-PALESTINIAN REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCE:

· Robert Novak, The Washington Post
· Pat Buchanan, WorldNetDaily.com, formerly of The Washington Times and CNN.
· Alexander Cockburn, The Nation and New York Press
· Christopher Hitchens, The Nation and Vanity Fair
· Edward Said, The Nation

The last political litany that was this accurate was the Florida Felon List used by Katherine Harris to prevent legally registered black voters from casting their ballots.

There are many absurd claims in the first three of Alterman’s lists. In his zeal to smear the Israeli side of the debate, he apparently just invented at least one Zionist sycophant:

From: CathyYoung1@cs.com
Date: Mon Apr 01, 2002 06:04:59 PM US/Central
To: letters@msnbc.com
Subject: Please forward to Eric Alterman

Dear Mr. Alterman:

I was rather shocked to see my name on your list of columnists who are reflexively supportive of Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at the end of your article "Intractable foes, warring narratives." ÊI would like to know how you arrived at the decision to place me in that category, since I can't recall having written a single column about the Middle East situation.

I hope that you see fit to issue a retraction.

Sincerely,
Cathy Young

Alterman writes that William F. Buckley supports Israel “reflexively and without qualification”. Buckley has written: “Israeli settlements on the West Bank are morally indefensible. On this issue, the Israelis are wrong.” And this: “My vote is that Ariel Sharon's offensive is the stupidest campaign in recent memory.”

Not exactly “unqualified support”.

Cal Thomas is on the list: “New leadership is needed in Israel, as is a new policy by both Israel and the United States.”

Paul Greenberg is on the list: “I have been a frequent critic of the Israeli government”.

Chris Matthews is on the list. He says Bush is not being tough enough on Sharon:  “…(Bush) did not say that the 200,000 Israelis now living on Arab land need to leave. Bush must know that as long as those Jewish settlements remain, talk of Palestinian sovereignty is meaningless.”

And what did Sid Zion do to deserve being included twice? Must be the offensive last name.

Eric Alterman has in his hand a list of sixty two names of Israeli disinformation agents who have infiltrated the media to poison the minds of the American people.

Unfortunately, as with his role model Joseph McCarthy’s list of 215 communists, Alterman’s roster is flawed in both veracity and premise. Many of the names on the list are like Buckley: generally supportive of Israel but definitely willing to be critical. And the premise that the American media is fawningly pro-Israeli is false. In order to even propose this ludicrous concept, Alterman had to deliberately sidestep consideration of almost all network television newscasters, despite the fact that they have the largest audience in the country.

It is his final module that conclusively reveals the deceptive nature of the list. Alterman summarized the problem of Israeli control over American public opinion:

As can be seen from this list of lists, the entire anti-Israel contingent of the punditocracy does not add up to a single George Will or William Safire, much less a Wall Street Journal or US News.

Alterman insists that, in our nation of almost three hundred million people, there is a meager total of five prominent media types who are reflexively pro-Palestinian. This certainly would seem to prove the point that the mass communications industry is extremely hostile to the Palestinian point of view, which is the stated foundation of the Alterman argument.  

That argument is a lie. It is factually inaccurate to assert that there are only five reflexively pro-Palestinian pundits in the mainstream of American journalism. It is also factually inaccurate to assert that there is a pro-Israel bias among most columnists and talking heads who address issues involving the Middle East. And when commentators who express sympathy to the Palestinians while masquerading as objective journalists are considered, Alterman’s argument is revealed to be a massive lie:

Christiane Amanpour (CNN) claims that America’s problems in the Middle East stem from its relationship with Israel. She blames Netanyahu and Sharon for the current conflict.

James A. Baker III (Los Angeles Times Syndicate): “Sharon’s policies are to blame”, “Fuck the Jews”.

Ashleigh Banfield (MSNBC): “And a lot of the people in the world can't help but wonder how such a strong army can continue such a tough operation against such a weak people like the Palestinians."

James Bennet (New York Times) is one of many reporters in the Middle East who write about homicide bombings by lavishing maudlin empathy on the murderers. After one of them blew herself up, slaughtering innocent children, he eulogized that she "raised doves and adored children". Well, gentile children.

Jimmy Breslin (Newsday): “It is the Israeli occupation that is the cause of the problem. (The Israelis) are dangerous and arrogant.

Tom Brokaw (NBC News): Has expressed irritation with American Jews who are “more loyal to Israel than to the United States." He is the managing editor of a news broadcast that reflects his low opinion of both disloyal American Jews and Israel.

Zbignew Brzezinski (Los Angeles Times Syndicate): "The Israelis are becoming increasingly like the white supremacist South Africans…”

Chris Bury (ABC News) On the night of the Passover Massacre in which twenty two Jews were murdered by a Palestinian homocide bomber, he hosted Nightline. The show featured an Israeli family (who blamed Israel), a Palestinian family (who blamed Israel), and an impartial Arab analyst (who blamed Israel).

Carl Cameron (Fox) falsely reported that Israeli agents posed as art students subsequent to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in order to gain access to sensitive documents in federal office buildings. The Justice Department rejected the charge as being an “urban myth”. Cameron repeated the allegations.

David Corn (The Nation): “Israeli attacks on Palestinians can be characterized as state terrorism.”

Steve Croft (CBS News): “Israel is guilty of torturing Palestinians. It is barbaric.”

Mohammed Daraghmeh (Associated Press) was forced to retract a story that falsely accused Israel of murdering a Palestinian baby.

Maureen Dowd (New York Times):  The Israeli settlers' movement and many people on the Israeli right are prepared to go to terrible lengths in the name of God's promise of the land to the chosen people.”

Gillian Findley (ABC News) blames Israel for “atrocities” – on both sides: “Israel is creating suicide bombers.”

Georgie Anne Geyer (Universal Press Syndicate) has written of a covert plan by Ariel Sharon to eventually move all of the Palestinians to Jordan, a plan so closely guarded that apparently even Ariel Sharon has never heard of it.

Linda Gradstein (NPR) referred to the terrorist group Hamas as “terrific community organizers” and “social workers”. She has said that, since 1973, the Middle East conflict has been the fault of the Israelis.

Joshua Hammer (Newsweek) Reporting from the West Bank, he writes that Israel is “bellicose”, “brutal”, and “cruel”. The Palestinians, including armed terrorists who are killed while attacking Israeli children, are listed as “victims”.

Christine Hauser (Reuters) When Palestinian terrorists attacked a busload of unarmed Israeli civilians, murdering ten, she flaunted the pro-Israel bias that drives Alterman to distraction: “The Palestinians were fighting for an end to Jewish settlements and the Israeli occupation.” Reuters refuses to call the homicide bombers “terrorists”; in Reutersspeak, they are “militants”.

Seymour Hirsh (New York Times) has repeatedly compared Israeli attitudes toward Palestinians to the Nazis' policy toward Jews.

Lee Hockstader (Washington Post) wrote a stirring 1,300-word defense of Aziz Salha, the tender and sensitive Palestinian youth who was photographed proudly waving his bloody hands after participating in the mob slaughter of two Israelis.

Jesse Jackson (Tribune Media Services) is a frequent guest on TV who is not any fonder of the Jews who live in Haifa than those who inhabit Hymietown.

Peter Jennings (ABC News) might be the one guy who hates Israel more than Arafat does. He has repeatedly had to issue retractions and corrections on Middle East stories because of anti-Israeli lies. He has said that Jewish reporters should not be allowed to cover Israel because they are “too biased”. He has no such prohibition against Muslim reporters covering Arab countries. He has repeatedly accused Israel of “thumbing its nose” at America. He actually blamed Israel for the deaths of twelve Palestinians who were killed when a Palestinian homicide bomber prematurely detonated. He congratulated Hezbollah for its efforts in Lebanon, the same Hezbollah that killed 241 Marines in Beirut. Every reporter at ABC World News Tonight toes the virulent anti-Israel Jennings line.

Howard Kurtz (Washington Post) condemns Israel for being heavy handed. He dismisses critics of the Palestinians as being in “blame Arafat mode”, while perceiving Israel as being in “police state mode”.

Michael Lerner (Tikkun) is the left’s favorite Israel-hating Jew. He is “appalled by Israel’s brutal repression of Palestinians”.

Jennifer Ludden (NPR) accused Israel of being “anti-Christian” for surrounding Palestinian terrorists who hid in the Church of the Nativity.

Mary McGrory (Washington Post) repeatedly falsely accused former Prime Minister Netanyahu of plotting against the Palestinians by ordering “a midnight construction of a tunnel under the Wailing Wall".  

John McLaughlin (The McLaughlin Group) “Ariel Sharon is the terrorist! Israel is the terrorist!” McLaughlin is a relentless, extraordinarily high profile Israel basher, but somehow he failed to make Alterman’s list.

Scott MacLeod (Time) works for a hysterically anti-Israel publication that printed, “Begin rhymes with Fagin”. Time lost a defamation suit for lying about Sharon. MacLeod blames Israel for provoking Palestinian terrorists.

Dave Marash (ABC News) says Arafat is “determined” and Sharon is “intransigent”. He has frequently blamed Israel for the continued violence.

Michael Moore (MichaelMoore.com/NY Times Best Seller List) signed his name to a letter alleging “Israel is acting as Pharaoh to a population that is seeking its own freedom and self-determination.”

Terry Moran (ABC News) argued to Ari Fleischer that the only leverage the Bush administration can successfully use in the Middle East is to cut off aid to Israel.

Victor Navasky (The Nation) Christopher Hitchens’ patron has identified the villains in the Middle East, and they eat gefilte fish.

William Orme (New York Times) is the Master Of Omission. When others reported that the Muslim sermon celebrating the lynching of two Jews on the West Bank included a call for the destruction of Israel and America, he forgot to mention it in his story. When others reported that a high official in the Palestinian Authority called for “all Jews everywhere to be killed”, he forgot to mention that in his story, too.

William Pfaff (Los Angeles Times Syndicate) He has repeatedly appeared on the PBS NewsHour to decry Israeli “brutality”.

Martha Raddatz (ABC News): “Israel is behaving very badly. There is a serious question about whether they can be trusted.”

William Raspberry (Washington Post): “Isn't it reasonable also to ask what moral distinctions there are between what the suicide bombers (and those who dispatch them) are doing and what the Israeli forces have been doing?”

Dean Reynolds (ABC News): “The Israelis will not let us go everywhere we want to go on the West Bank, indicating that they must have something to hide.” “It appears that Israel might have conducted a massacre.”

Geraldo Rivera (Fox): “Israel is inflicting terrorism.” “I am a Palestinian.”

Andy Rooney (CBS News) has proposed cutting off American aid to Israel and the Palestinians, which means that the Palestinians would have to watch helplessly when the armies of the other Arab countries captured Tel Aviv.

Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) has one foolproof solution to the current Middle East conflict: The U.S. Must Pressure Israel!

Tim Russert (NBC/MSNBC) bitterly condemned Israel for “insubordination” to the U.S. He had to be reminded that, as an independent country, Israel is not a “subordinate”. He then repeated on radio that Israel is “insubordinate”.

Morley Safer (CBS News) has identified Israel as the roadblock to peace.

Robert Scheer (Creator’s Syndicate) is a longtime hypercritic of Israel. He recently wrote that Israeli behavior is “monstrous”, and chastised American Jews who support it.

Kate Seelye (NPR) has called Sharon a “war criminal” and the “Butcher of Beirut”.

Charles Sennott (Boston Globe) horrified readers with a gruesome account of how Israeli tanks terrorized an Arab village in 1948, creating refugees who remain traumatized to this day. Unfortunately, Israel did not have any functioning tanks at the time, but it was a truly compelling story.

Bob Simon (CBS News) vividly described an Israeli Defense Force assault on unarmed Palestinian youths, which was later proven to have never occurred.

Scott Simon (NPR): “The Israelis have been brutal. They have deliberately broken the bones of Palestinian children.”

Joe Sobran (Griffin Internet Syndicate): “Israel is a racist country. It has no right to exist.”

Alisa Solomon (Village Voice) advocates cutting off foreign aid to Israel.

Norman Solomon (Creators Syndicate) claims that Israel is “an apartheid state, in many ways worse than South Africa.”

Deborah Sontag (New York Times) wrote a lengthy piece casting Arafat as a statesman. While offering no proof, she claims that Barak and Clinton are lying about the breakdown of the Camp David negotiations in 2000, while Arafat is telling the truth.

Leslie Stahl (CBS News) equates Sharon with Goliath and Arafat with David. That sound in the distance is David turning over in his grave.

Shibley Telhami (Syndicated columnist) contributes to the Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times. He argues that Palestinian suicide bombing is “empowering”.

Helen Thomas (AP) blames Ariel Sharon for the current violence in the region. She demanded to know when Bush will “stop the Israeli violence”.

Mike Wallace (CBS News) reported that Israeli police fired on a Palestinian crowd at the Temple Mount. He forgot to mention that, as videotapes proved, the mob was violently rioting at the time.

Jude Wanniski (Polymetrics.com) says he supports Israel. He does so with comments like this: “There is a long list of knee-jerk supporters, who would not blanch if Ariel Sharon used daisy cutters on Yasir Arafat's compound in Ramallah.”

Linda Wertheimer (NPR) falsely accused Israel of attempting to drive Arabs out of Jerusalem. When confronted with contradictory evidence, she refused to correct or retract.

Tracy Wilkinson (Los Angeles Times) faithfully promotes the Times’ relentless storyline that Israel is the victimizer and the Palestinians are the victims. Wilkinson also possesses the ability to read the thoughts of Israeli leaders, and very bad thoughts they are.

Juan Williams (Fox/NPR): “The Israelis are the aggressors. The Israelis are wrong.”

Daniel Williams (Washington Post) claims that the current violence was “triggered by Ariel Sharon”.

Brian Williams (NBC/MSNBC) described the current conflict this way: “The Israeli army just keeps killing.”

This list of brownnosing journalistic toadies who believe Israel can do no wrong goes on and on, but I’ll stop at the established Alterman standard of sixty two. It just as easily could be 162. I emphasized mostly major news operations, the ones with influence, and also included some widely quoted influential chatterers.

Number 62 is my favorite entry from the slavishly pro-Israel American media:

Connie Chung (CNN): "It's really quite unusual to speak to our next guest. His organization, Hamas, takes credit for the killing (Passover massacre) in Netanya. He told CNN shortly after the attack just that, and even defended it, promising more to come. He's the spokesperson for an organization seen by most as a terrorist group, even though he would probably prefer the term freedom fighter. We're joined by Hamas spokesman Usama Hamdan. Thank you so much for being with us, sir."

And thank you so much, Connie. When those of us at Hamas carry out our stated objective to kill every Jew everywhere, you’ll be single again, so here’s my number.

Alterman couldn’t be more wrong when he claims that the American media is parroting the “Israeli narrative”. This is especially true of network television news, which three quarters of the American people use as their primary source for information. The major newspapers in America, with the exception of the Wall Street Journal, editorialize that the Israelis must engage in “restraint” (as opposed to “self defense”). It is true that talk radio is generally pro-Israel. It is also true that on the Internet, the far right and the mainstream left are engaged in a spirited competition to see who can spew out the most hateful anti-Israeli invective.

Alterman concluded, "The entire anti-Israel contingent of the punditocracy does not add up to a single George Will or William Safire, much less a Wall Street Journal or U.S. News." This is untrue. As noted in the list above, there are numerous anti-Israel pundits. Anyway, who needs “pundits” when you have “pundits posing as journalists” reporting pro-Palestinian lies from the scene? They are joined by the major newspapers and television networks in expressing selective pseudo moral indignation at Israeli retribution, while downplaying or ignoring extreme Palestinian provocation.  

The pundits who are identified by Alterman as being reflexively pro-Israel do not have the collective impact of ABC News, which consistently reflects Peter Jennings’ pathological hatred of the Jewish state.

Eric Alterman is an extremely bright man. Monitoring the media is what he does for a living. There is voluminous evidence that large numbers of mainstream journalists have exhibited undisguised hostility toward Israel. It would be extremely unfair to accuse him of being ignorant about the anti-Israel bias that is held by so many American opinion shapers.

A sage once proclaimed that an honorable man will always make his beliefs conform to facts rather than the other way around. However, if Eric Alterman had honored that concept, then he would have lacked the material for yet another deceptive anti-Israel diatribe.

More David Podvin

Podvin, the Series

 


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