JERUSALEM – In response to uproar from angry viewers and a media watchdog report, CNN advertisers have distanced themselves from a special series that aired last week entitled “God’s Warriors,” produced and anchored by the network’s chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America called an episode of the series that focused on Judaism “one of the most grossly distorted programs” ever aired on mainstream American television.
The financial company Raymond James’ Investor Relations complained to CNN that one of its commercials ran during the Jewish section of the program, titled “God’s Jewish Warriors.” The company said it was not aware its ad would be aired during the program and requested “no further airing of our commercials in any re-broadcast of the series.”
Martha Craft, assistant vice president of public relations for Orkin, which also advertised on the CNN program, slammed Amanpour’s documentary as “offensive” and said her company would not purchase any ad time if the network re-aired the series.
“We had purchased advertising that was supposed to air on ‘Larry King Live’ on Aug. 21. CNN changed programming to air ‘God’s Jewish Warriors’ without notifying us ahead of time to obtain our approval – which is against our agreement with the network,” stated Craft.
“We have discussed this with CNN, and they are aware of the severity of their mistake. I am told that ‘God’s Jewish Warriors’ was (part of) a three-part special which has concluded; however, Orkin has added it to our ‘do not buy’ list (‘of offensive shows where we do not allow our ads to run’), should it re-air in the future,” she said.
CAMERA said letters and calls from angry viewers prompted the swift response from advertisers. The media watchdog asked viewers to continue complaining to companies that advertised on “Gods Warriors,” including Intel, Brink’s Home Security, Verizon Wireless, Circuit City and Direct TV.
The first part of “God’s Jewish Warriors” compared Jewish and Christian “radicals” to Muslim supporters of suicide terror, presented anti-Israel commentators with no counterbalance, falsely labeled the West Bank as Palestinian land and minimized Jewish rights to the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site, the critics said.
During last week’s program, Amanpour also conducted a friendly interview about Israel with former President Jimmy Carter, whose most recent book, “Palestine: Peace, not Apartheid,” criticized the Jewish state’s treatment of Palestinians. The book was slammed for a series of falsehoods and was widely labeled anti-Israeli by a number of media critics.
The CAMERA said the CNN series is “false in its basic premise, established in the opening scene in which Jewish (and Christian) religious fervency is equated with that of Muslims heard endorsing ‘martyrdom,’ or suicide-murder. There is, of course, no counterpart among Jews and Christians to the violent jihadist Muslim campaigns under way across the globe.”
Amanpour’s “God’s Warriors” describes itself as focusing on religious fundamentalism among Christians, Muslims and Jews.
The Jewish segment started off comparing “Jewish terrorists” to that of Muslims, specifically focusing on the few instances of violence or attempted violence by religiously motivated Jews against Muslims. It told the story of Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli physician who killed 29 Arabs in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994. Goldstein’s actions were widely condemned by Israelis and worldwide Jewry. The organization he was a part of was outlawed in Israel.
States the CAMERA report: “While in reality Jewish ‘terrorism’ is virtually non-existent, the program magnifies at length the few instances of (Jewish) violence” comparing it to “violent jihadist Muslim campaigns” when indeed there is no such comparison “either in numbers of perpetrators engaged or in the magnitude of death and destruction wrought.”
Amanpour: Martyrdom ‘quite noble’
While discussing Islamic suicide attacks, Amanpour painted “martyrdom” as “quite noble.”
“To the West, martyrdom has a really bad connotation because of suicide bombers who call themselves martyrs,” Amanpour stated. “Really, martyrdom is actually something that historically was quite noble, because it was about standing up and rejecting tyranny, rejecting injustice and rejecting oppression and, if necessary, dying for that.”
Amanpour’s feature moved on to interviews with critics of Israel without providing pro-Israeli voices.
The feature repeatedly falsely referred to the West Bank as “Palestinian territory.”
“It is also Palestinian land. The West Bank – it’s west of the Jordan River – was designated by the United Nations to be the largest part of an Arab state,” stated Amanpour.
The West Bank contains some of Judaism’s holiest sites and biblical Jewish cities, including Hebron, home to the oldest Jewish community in the world. The territory was recaptured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War after Jordan, which controlled the West Bank, ignored Israeli advice to stay out of the conflict.
The U.N. labels the West Bank as “disputed,” not Palestinian territory.
‘Pro-Israel lobbies against U.S. interests’
Several guests, including former Sen. Charles Percy and University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer, who co-authored Carter’s book on Israel, state in Amanpour’s documentary pro-Israel lobbies in Washington force American lawmakers to support Jewish expansion in the West Bank and promote causes contrary to U.S. interests.
Carter is interviewed claiming no American politician could survive politically while calling for cuts in aid to Israel unless the Jewish state ceases expanding West Bank Jewish communities.
“There’s no way that a member of Congress would ever vote for that and hope to be re-elected,” stated Carter.
Contradicting Carter’s sentiments, CAMERA notes critics of Israel’s West Bank policies have thrived politically, including Sen. Robert Byrd and Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, Nick Smith, Pete Stark, Neil Abercrombie, David E. Bonior, John Conyers Jr, John D. Dingell, Earl F. Hilliard, Jesse L. Jackson Jr., Barbara Lee, Jim McDermott, George Miller, Jim Moran, David R. Obey, Ron Paul and Nick J. Rahall II, among others.
Amanpour suggests West Bank settlements are the cause of Arab anger.
“The Jewish settlements have inflamed much of the Arab world,” she says.
A number of guests describe West Bank settlements as being the cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But CAMERA points out Arab wars and acts of violence were waged against Israel long before the settlements were first established in 1967.
“The Arab world was just as anti-Israel (actually more so) before the settlements were built,” stated the CAMERA report.
Amanpour claims all U.S. presidents since 1967, including Ronald Reagan, deemed Israeli settlements “illegal.”
But U.S. policy did not deem settlements illegal.
Amanpour quoted Reagan as stating “the United States will not support the use of any additional land for the purpose of settlements.”
But the documentary failed to produce the rest of Reagan’s quotes in which he stated West Bank settlements are not illegal.
“As to the West Bank, I believe the settlements there – they’re not illegal,” stated Reagan.
Amanpour moves on to holy sites in Jerusalem, where she minimizes Jewish rights to the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – and exaggerates Islamic claims, critics said. Muslims say the Mount it is their third holiest site.
“It was from here (the Temple Mount), according to Muslim scripture, that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven around the year 630. But Hebrew scripture puts the ancient Jewish Temple in the same location, destroyed by the Romans in the year 70.”
The Quran doesn’t once mention Jerusalem. Islamic tradition states Muhammad took a journey in a single night from “a sacred mosque” – believed to be in Mecca in southern Saudi Arabia – to “the farthest mosque” and from a rock there ascended to heaven. The farthest mosque later became associated with the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
The Jewish Temple is described throughout biblical sources as the center of religious Jewish worship. The Temple Mount compound has remained a focal point for Jewish services over the millennia. Prayers for a return to Jerusalem have been uttered by Jews since the Second Temple was destroyed, according to Jewish tradition. Jews worldwide pray facing toward the Western Wall, a portion of an outer courtyard of the Temple left intact.
Amanpour interviews the Muslim Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who offers an Islamic perspective on the importance of the Temple Mount and Al Aqsa Mosque to Muslims, but no Jewish religious figure is presented to discuss the paramount religious importance of the Mount to Jews, noted CAMERA.
Amanpour’s feature also claimed a visit to the Temple Mount by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2000 instigated the Palestinian intifada which began that year, even though intifada planners and Palestinian leaders admitted the violence was pre-planned and that Sharon’s visit was used as an excuse.
The intifada was launched after Arafat returned from U.S.-mediated peace talks at the Camp David presidential retreat during which the Palestinian leader turned down an Israeli offer of a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern sections of Jerusalem.
“Whoever thinks the intifada broke out because of the despised Sharon’s visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque is wrong,” admitted Palestinian Communications Minister Imad Al-Faluji to an Egyptian daily newspaper. “…This intifada was planned in advance, ever since President Arafat’s return from the Camp David negotiations.”
Arafat himself spoke of planning the intifada months before Sharon’s visit, as did Marwan Barghouti, a jailed Palestinian parliament member and one of the chief architects of the intifada.
Senior terror leaders involved in the intifada admitted during numerous WND interviews Sharon’s visit to the Mount did not spark the intifada.
The CAMERA report concludes: “Whether wittingly or not, Amanpour’s program, with its reliance on pejorative labeling, generalities, testimonials and a stacked lineup of guests, is a perfect illustration of classical propaganda techniques. Unfortunately propaganda is the opposite of journalism, the profession Amanpour is supposed to practice.”
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