February 22, 2017
Success: PBS Ombudsman Blogs About Miko Peled Interview
Earlier this month, CAMERA sent an alert to our members and posted an article on our website regarding Tavis Smiley and his interview with radical anti-Israel activist Miko Peled, which was aired on PBS. During the interview, Peled made several false claims that were not corrected or challenged by his host. Many of our letter-writers wrote to Smiley, as well as to the PBS Ombudsman, Michael Getler.
Getler responded in a column late last week, in which he linked to our article and discussed our critiques. He agreed that Smiley could have challenged Peled more, and that he “could have bounced some of Peled's most controversial assertions off on his follow-up guest, Rabbi Leder, which Smiley did not do.” Getler also noted that he forwarded CAMERA’s critique to Smiley.
Although Smiley did not respond, he will have hopefully taken the critique under consideration and will think about these issues before bringing similar guests to his show in the future.
In his blog post, Getler also published excerpts from many of the letters that CAMERA members and others sent in. Below are the letters as Getler published them:
The guest, Miko Peled, on the show made so many incorrect assertions that it would take a very long letter to point out all of them. Mr. Smiley, you, as an informed journalist, should have at least questioned, if not corrected, some of them. Peled's description of Israel as an apartheid state has no basis in fact. In an apartheid state the oppressed do not have recourse to the courts nor do they have equal transit and health opportunities. Patently untrue in Israel.
Describing Israel as a “union between racism and colonialism” ignored the fact that Jews are indigenous to Israel and have been a presence in Jerusalem since 1004 BC! The assertion that Palestinians get only 12 hours a week of water may be true but their water is controlled by the Palestinian Water Authority. Israel has nothing to do with it. These, and many other, statements of Mr. Peled are not surprising in view of his past statements. Minimal research would have shown this. It is necessary to correct these mis-statements to maintain PBS' claim to journalistic integrity.
Lawrence H. Levine, Pleasantville NY
(Ombudsman’s Note: Peled has likened Israel treatment of Palestinians to apartheid but not on this program.)
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I am writing to protest the content and tone of your [Tavis Smiley’s] interview with Miko Peled on 2/2/17. Miko Peled is well known as an anti-Israel extremist who frequently veers into anti-semitic territory. For example on your show he termed Jewish history a "myth," denied that Jews have a right to self-determination via a state of their own, and repeatedly libeled Israel's water policies towards the Palestinians.
Had you been fulfilling your role as a talk show host with some degree of objectivity and concern for the truth, you could have pointed out archeological evidence for Jewish history in Israel which is abundant, including the Western Wall of Solomon's Temple. You could have pointed out that denying Jews the right to national self-determination essentially meets the U.S. State Department's definitions of antisemitism. You could have pointed out that Israel supplies Palestinians with twice the water specified in the Oslo Accords, and that Palestinians would have even more water if they stopped refusing hookups to Israeli water infrastructure in their opposition to "normalization,” and stopped refusing to use effluent drip irrigation techniques employed by Israel to conserve water.
Instead you had another guest on, a Rabbi who weakly offered some minor corrections and whose stance seemed to reflect the typically misguided, left-of-center utopian fantasy that Israeli and Palestinian actions have been morally and politically equivalent. In fact Israel has made great concessions of land and rights to Palestinians in search of peace, and has been met with unceasing terrorism and refusals of generous peace offers. This is because the true and only goal of the Palestinians is the destruction of Israel…If your purpose was to provide your listeners with accurate information, you could have corrected or challenged Peled's falsehoods. You could have had an additional guest on 2/2/17 to forcefully and effectively respond to Peled.
Daniel H. Trigoboff, Ph.D, Williamsville, NY
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I am disturbed about Tavis Smiley’s program with Miko Peled in which Peled made false statements about Israel that went unchallenged by Smiley. Several of these false statements include calling Jewish history a myth, calling Israel an illegitimate state, calling the Haganah a terrorist group even as he justified terrorism against Israelis and perpetuated the falsehoods about the water libel. When PBS knowingly invites radicals to appear on their shows, the host should do their homework and be prepared to aggressively challenge their narratives and false claims. Smiley should announce corrections of Peled's false statements on his show, particularly the implication that Israel denies water to Palestinians and that the Haganah was a terrorist organization.
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Almost every phrase that came out of Mr. Peled's mouth had some disinformation that had a single goal: to portray Israel as an illegitimate state based on some mythical story and to portray Israelis as bunch of evil racist white Europeans oppressing indigenous population.
Here few most outrageous lies that I heard in the interview:
1) Jews suddenly showed up few decades ago and took land from the people who lived there forever. FALSE! To say something like that is to disregard well established historic and archaeological facts. Jews have always lived in Israel, despite regular massacres perpetrated against them by Arab Muslims, crusaders, Turks and numerous others. 2) There have never been a Palestinian nation. This nation was invented in 1960's in Moscow by the Soviets. Those who call themselves "Palestinians" now are in fact a conglomeration of different nationalities, most of which came to the area in the middle of 19th century as migrant workers. The rest settled there between 1948 and 1967 by the Jordanian King in violation of Forth Geneva Convention after Jordan (with the blessing of England) illegally captured West Bank in 1948. 3) Few Bedouins came to Judea from Arabia and are not indigenous people. Israel has always tried to accommodate Bedouins and their lifestyle…Most Bedouins are loyal Israeli citizens.
Valery Tsimmerman, MD
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The Tavis Smiley talk show with Miko Peled is a new low in responsible broadcasting. The selection of Rabbi Steve Leder as an ineffective "balanced view" indicates, at best, a pathetically inept PBS. In light of other broadcasts with overt slants, any thinking person surmises the worst: PBS’s actions are only open-minded to accusation about Israel. PBS open-mindedness has apparently allowed the facts and their brains to fall away - neither are used.
Hillel Hammerman, New York, NY
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On February 2, Tavis Smiley hosted Miko Peled, an extreme anti-Israel activist who has made outrageous statements about Israel and claimed that Jews have no history there. Peled falsely claimed that the Haganah was a terrorist group, but he does not accept the idea that Israeli Jews have any right to defend themselves from real terrorists. Mr. Peled claims he can’t be anti-Semitic because he is Jewish, but he is on record making statements against Jews, and being technically Jewish does not stop someone from hating Jews.
Forest Hills, NY
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In your recent broadcast by T. Smiley, the well-known Mr. Anti-Semite and Anti-anything-Jewish Paled was invited. I know the Freedom of Speech and Right to Expression are very important. But why invite the well-known hater to the program with the moderator who is either badly prepared, or sympathetic to Mr. Paled views, or simply intellectually lazy? And even if Mr. Tavis's sympathies are with Palestinian Arabs -- he has no right to reveal it in his work as Journalist.
Dr. R. Ogulnik
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When you have anti-Semites like Miko Peled on your show why don't you mention the wise and prescient words of Dr. Martin Luther King JR spoken in December 1967: "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism." Also why don't you mention that the Obama State Department stated that it is anti-Semitic to claim you oppose the State of Israel, but not its policies. Your silence when confronted with anti-Semitic drivel raises the issue of whether you agree with the drivel.
Richard Sherman, Margate, FL
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Posted by kabe at February 22, 2017 12:34 PM
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