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June 09, 2019

CNN’s Zakaria Indulges Palestinian Propagandist Hanan Ashrawi



Fareed Zakaria’s weekly Cable News Network (CNN) program (grandiosely named “Global Public Square”) June 9 broadcast included a discussion of the current U.S. Middle East peace plan with guests Hanan Ashrawi (Palestinian Authority official) and Dan Senor (Republican Party foreign policy adviser). Video of the broadcast does not seem to be available online — at least not readily available — but one can read an accurate transcript of it.

The peace plan, only in an early planning stage now (but already rejected by Ashrawi and her fellow Palestinian leaders), puts forth a $50 billion, 10-year investment plan for the Palestinian Authority (PA), Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, with more than half for the PA.

Note that Ashrawi is the only known professing Christian in the otherwise Muslim Palestinian Legislative Council of the PA under Mahmoud Abbas. As a fluent speaker of English, she has often acted as a spokesperson for the PA. Ashrawi, although lauded in the West as a voice for peace and moderation, has, among other numerous blameworthy utterances (more below), endorsed the murder of Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers.

None of Ashrawi’s several misleading claims were challenged.

Key excerpts

Zakaria cued Ashrawi: “The outlines [of the plan] appear to be [that] the Palestinians are given a certain amount of resources for economic development … but not the core demands of statehood …”

Predictably, Ashrawi rejected the plan which would bail out the PA ruled West Bank Palestinians who are in dire economic straits. The PA has other fish to fry — a nationalism-cloaked generally Islamism-based agenda (more below).

Ashrawi resorted to typical verbiage for her,

This [American] administration has unilaterally taken concrete steps on the ground that are totally prejudicial and illegal and that are preventing any kind of viable or any kind of legal or any kind of acceptable peace plan.

The issue of Jerusalem, the issue of refugees, the annexation of the Golan, the total defunding of the Palestinians [of millions of American taxpayer dollars] … legalizing settlements, all these are steps and positions that are illegal … [and] in a very, very patronizing and racist way [such] that the Palestinians are on probation.

Senor commented,

[T]his is in the context of the gradual soft normalization that's going on between the Israeli government and Arab governments throughout the Sunni world… It's debatable whether or not the Palestinian leadership is the future or the past. We're [United States] going to get this process going. They'll [Palestinian rulers] either show up or they won't… [But] aren’t young Palestinians going to look at that and say why aren't we part of this?

Zakaria asked Ashrawi: “Is it possible that the Sunni Arabs are now aligning themselves so closely or increasingly closely with Israel that they will not spend a lot of time, energy or political capital defending some core demands of the Palestinians and instead be more interested in better relations with Israel?”

Ashrawi responded,

Well, this is one way in which this American administration has been trying to reward Israel, to normalize Israel within the Arab world, to deliver to Israel the Arab world and at the same time to maintain its occupation. If anybody has any knowledge of the context of the history of the core issues they will understand that no Arab leader, no matter how autocratic, is going to accept first of all Israel's annexation of Jerusalem or the negation of Palestinian refugee rights, or maintaining the Palestinians under occupation.

Debunking Ashrawi's propaganda

Ashrawi issues a litany of falsehoods and distortions claiming illegality and racism by the United States related to the issues of financial grants, annexation of the Golan, status of Jerusalem, “occupation,” West Bank Jewish settlements and refugee rights.

• Ashrawi falsely and preposterously claims that the U.S. termination of millions of dollars in grants to the Palestinians is illegal.

• The Golan: Viewers are seldom, if ever, informed of the historical/biblical aspect of the Golan. Jewish Israelis resided in the Golan long before Arabs arrived in the area. Evidence of this is found in the Bible — references to the Golan are contained in Deuteronomy 4:43, Joshua 20:8, Joshua 21:27 and 1 Chronicles 6:56. The region known today as the Golan Heights was a part of the area of Bashan in the territory assigned to the Israeli tribe of Manasseh thousands of years ago. Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that these ancestors ever willingly relinquished their rights to the land.

False claims are made by the anti-Israel side that Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights violates international laws and resolutions condemning the acquisition of territory by war. But these condemnations apply only to offensive wars. Israel had seized the Golan in the defensive Six-Day War of 1967. The Syrian military had repeatedly used it to shell the Galilee area of Israel from the Golan high point putting Israeli population centers in jeopardy. Currently, if Israel were to lose control of the Golan, the Galilee would be undefended against the predations of Iran which is intent on destroying the Jewish nation-state.

As legal scholar Alan Dershowitz observed recently, “No country in history has ever given back to a sworn enemy, militarily essential territory that has been captured in a defensive war” (Alan M. Dershowitz, “Trump Is Right about the Golan Heights,” Gatestone Institute, March 30, 2019).

• Jerusalem: Ashrawi and her colleagues profess outrage that the 2017 U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital came without a guarantee that the Palestinians will have eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount area, transferred to them as the capital of their prospective state. This is a nonnegotiable point for them (more below).

The facts are these: The U.S. Congress’ Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, passed by overwhelming majorities in the House and the Senate, and allowed into law by President Clinton, requires that Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem. Reasons for the long delay are discussed in a CAMERA report.

Until the 2017 decision to recognize Israel’s capital, only Israel among the nations of the world, had its capital unrecognized by the nations. This was an injustice. First, it ignores the unique Jewish connection to Jerusalem. The reality is that Jews have continuously lived in their ancestral home in the Holy Land including Jerusalem. In 1948, the re-establishment of the Jewish nation of Israel, with the capacity of caring for Jewish refugees, was supported by the United Nations. Israel sought to accommodate the Arabs but was immediately rebuffed by Arab Armies that attempted to annihilate the Jewish state. And thereafter Arab forces attacked, or gathered to attack, Israel several times in order to destroy it.

Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest city, is mentioned hundreds of times in the Hebrew Bible. It's mentioned several times in the Christian New Testament. But it's not even mentioned once in Islam's Quran (Koran). It was the capital city of ancient Jewish kingdoms and home to Judaism’s holiest place, the Temple. No other site comes close in holiness. It is as holy to Jews as Mecca and Medina are to Muslims, and there is no similarly holy site in Jerusalem for Muslims. Jews from all over the ancient world would make pilgrimages to the Temple three times a year to participate in worship and festivities, as commanded in the Bible.

The Jewish wedding ceremony concludes with the chanting of the biblical phrase, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning,” and the breaking of a glass by the groom to commemorate the destruction of the Temples. And Yom Kippur services and the Passover Seder conclude each year with the phrase “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab country. In fact, in all recorded history, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of only the nation of Israel. So why the Palestinian frenzy over Jerusalem? The current PA capital of Ramallah (meaning “mountain of Allah”) is not suitable. Rather, the Palestinians insist on possession of the Jewish Temple Mount area of the city of “Al-Quds” ("The Holy One" i.e. holy to Muslims) (their name for Jerusalem). Meanwhile, the Palestinians, among other Muslims, deny the Jewish link to Jerusalem and Judaism's holy places, thereby denying something well-established by archeology and history. Could the Islamist frenzy over Jerusalem be related to Muslim awareness of the prophecies in the Bible promising an end-times arrival of the Messiah to the Jewish Temple?

• “Occupation” and West Bank Jewish settlements: Israel took control of the territory of the West Bank (part of ancient Israel) as a result of successful self-defense in the 1967 Six-Day War. The West Bank is not sovereign territory of any country, but rather land disputed by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It was illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948 until 1967, when Israel took control. Meanwhile, Israel remains the legal, obligatory military occupational authority in the West Bank pending conclusion of a negotiated agreement on the territories’ final status. Furthermore, the West Bank Palestinians are self-governing with Israeli personnel only entering Palestinian communities to pursue terrorists.

The notion that the settlements are a main obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians is a non-starter. First, the Arabs consistently refused to consider peace with the Israelis prior to the initiation of the settlements enterprise which took place only after the culmination of the 1967 War. Second, these settlements have never constituted more than only six percent of the total land mass of the entire West Bank.

• Refugee rights: The Palestinians insist that Israel must accept a “right of return” (that does not exist in international law) for millions of Arabs (nearly all of whom have never lived in Israel) which would inevitably result in the Jewish state becoming not viable. Furthermore, the actual refugee situation is: 850,000 Jews were expelled from their Arab dominant countries following the rebirth of the state of Israel; 600,000-700,000 Palestinians fled their homes during the Arab-Israeli war. The Jews are not invoking a “right of return."

The Islamism factor is underlined by PA President Mahmoud Abbas

Abbas has shown that the hatred of Israel and Jews is largely Islamism-based. As is noted in a Wall Street Journal report on Oct. 18, 2015, Abbas is shown on PA television saying,

We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every Martyr will reach Paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah. The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is ours, and they [the Jews] have no right to defile them with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.

Fareed Zakaria is an unreliable source

Zakaria has demonstrated a compulsion to view Israel darkly, regardless of facts. In 2015 he implicitly equated the Irgun group to ISIS, the Islamist terrorist organization. Irgun was a Jewish underground military organization in 1945-1948 that fought to establish a Jewish state while usually managing to avoid non-combatant casualties. Previously he had cast the Lebanese terror group, Hezbollah, as a model of religious tolerance. Additionally, in 2014 his journalism ethics were called into question when he was caught plagiarizing.

Likewise, CNN has a dismal record regarding the network’s coverage of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Ashrawi’s claims typically constitute a huge disconnect from reality

Hanan Ashrawi has generally been indulged in the American media as she invariably plays the victimization card while misleading viewers.

Among Ashrawi’s numerous falsehoods and distortions is this one from 2012. The Jerusalem Post reported that Ashrawi had been quoted in several Arab media outlets as stating, “the claim that Jews who migrated to Israel [in1948], which is supposed to be their homeland, are ‘refugees’ who were uprooted from their homelands... is a form of deception and delusion … because they left their homes voluntarily and under pressure from Zionist groups and the Jewish Agency.”

Among the refutations of this Ashrawi falsehood at the time was the Huffington Post piece, Hanan Ashrawi Is to Truth What Smoking Is to Health which debunked “her preposterous claim that there were no Jewish refugees [in 1948] from Arab countries.”

Ashrawi, like her fellow Palestinian leaders, deeply resents the presence of Jewish communities in the West Bank. This resentment extends to usage of the biblical name “Judea and Samaria” for the West Bank. For example, Ashrawi registered outrage as a spokesperson for the Palestinian delegation during a news conference in 1991 at the Middle East Peace Conference in Madrid, Spain. Ashrawi was asked a question by a representative of the Religious Broadcasters Association of the United States:

The question is Judea and Samaria on the land for peace issue, please, we are Christians in America. Explain it to us. Here's the problem that we don't understand: when Judea and Samaria was in the hands of the Arab world, Israel was attacked three times and did not have security. how can you ask them to exchange land for peace when they did not have security when the Arab world had Judea and Samaria?

Demonstrating her habitual deceptiveness especially related to revisionist history — and her frequent self-righteous indignation, Ashrawi replied:

I find your reference to ‘Judea and Samaria’ a statement of extreme bias, and rather offensive. I am a Palestinian Christian, and I know what Christianity is. I am a descendant of the first Christians in the world, and Jesus Christ was born in my country, in my land. Bethlehem is a Palestinian town. So I will not accept this one-upmanship on Christianity. Nobody has the monopoly. (The Washington Post, “The Practiced Palestinian,” Caryle Murphy, Nov. 4, 1991; Federal News Service, Nov. 1, 1991).

But if Ashrawi is in fact a “descendant of the first Christians in the world,” as she describes herself, she would be a descendant of Israeli Jews not the descendant of Arabs as she is presumably. Furthermore, although Ashrawi resents the term "Judea and Samaria," Jewish names for the West Bank, the names are mentioned in the Christian New Testament in well known passages Matt. 2:1, Acts 1:8 and Acts 8: 1,5,9,14. All of this is in the context of land resided in mainly, if not entirely, by Israeli Jews. This was a thousand years before the establishment of the first Arab communities in the Holy Land which happened well after conquering Muslim Arab armies had swept across the continent from the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century C.E.

Moreover, as a professed Christian, Ashrawi should know that the word “Palestine” (or any variant of it) is nowhere to be found in the New Testament. Additionally, the name “Bethlehem” for her “Palestinian town” is a transliteration into English of the Hebrew (Israeli) name for the original Jewish Israeli town (which Bethlehem was), “Beit Lehem” meaning “House of Bread.”

Paraphrasing Shakespeare regarding Ashrawi, “Deception Is Thy Name, Condemning Israel and America Thy Game.”


Clearly, anyone seeking accurate information regarding Israel would be well advised to avoid
Hanan Ashrawi, Fareed Zakaria and CNN.

Posted by MK at June 9, 2019 07:17 PM


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