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January 31, 2006

CNN Broadcasts Hamas Consiracy Theory, Later Sets the Record Straight

israeli_flag2.jpg prayershawl.jpg

An anti-Israel conspiracy theory normally relegated to fringe internet sites in the U.S. (or general media in the Muslim world) has made it into the U.S. mainstream.

During an interview on the Jan. 29 CNN program Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar disseminated the debunked conspiracy theory that the blue stripes on the Israeli flag represent the country's ambitions to expand its borders to the Nile and Euphrates rivers.

Although interviewer Wolf Blitzer didn't at the time challenging Zahar's misinformation, he did (partially) set the record straight the following day.

"Now, the Israelis are putting on their flag two blue lines. That means the river Nile and the Euphrates," Zahar told CNN.

Later in the interview, Zahar repeated the charge:

... ask the Israeli about what is the meaning of the two blue lines in their flag. What is the meaning of land of Israel in their concept?

BLITZER: The two blue lines on the Israeli flag that are on top of the Star of David, is that what you're talking about?

AL-ZAHAR: They are indicating -- they are saying that frankly -- it is indicating the River Nile and Euphrates (inaudible). On one coin, the gold shekel, there was -- it was a map, including Palestine, Sinai, Syria, Jordan and part of Saudi Arabia. So they are not denying that. Ask them about this question...


BLITZER: Well, let's just be clear about this. What you're saying is that Israel wants to establish a state between the Nile and the Euphrates, is that what you're saying?

AL-ZAHAR: I'm sorry, I'm not understanding your question.

BLITZER: Are you saying that Israel hopes to establish a state between the Nile River in Egypt and the Euphrates River in Iraq?

AL-ZAHAR: Yes. It is written in their Bibles. They are even -- it is written in the Knesset. That is the meaning of the David Star that was said (ph) as the land of Israel. This is the historical land of Israel.

BLITZER: Let me just wrap it up with one final question, and see if we can get a straight answer. If Israel were to accept a complete withdrawal...

The following day on CNN's The Situation Room, Blitzer rehashed the interview, this time pointing out that the stripes are actually said to be inspired by the Jewish prayer shawl:

BLITZER: In refusing to back away from the stated Hamas goal of destroying Israel, Al-Zahar pointed to the Israeli flag.

[video from Zahar interview]

BLITZER: The flag of Israel, by the way, could be traced back more than a century to the dawn of the modern Zionist movement. According to the encyclopedia Judaica and the Israeli foreign ministry, the two stripes on the flag were inspired by the two stripes on the prayer shawls worn during prayer. These stripes and the six pointed Star of David date back to antiquity.

Blitzer didn't point out that Zahar's claim about a Knesset inscription calling for an Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates was also false.

For more on the Nile to Euphrates mythology, see:

For more on prevarications by Palestinian officials being spread via the U.S. media, see here.

Posted by at January 31, 2006 01:51 PM


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