Middle East studies in the News
Analyzing Palestinian Propaganda on CNN: Rashid Khalidi on "Fareed Zakaria GPS"
by Ricki Hollander
On Feb. 12, 2017, Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi was invited onto CNN's global affairs program hosted by Fareed Zakaria (Fareed Zakaria GPS) to defend and justify the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. This followed an interview on the same program a week earlier with French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy when he charged the BDS campaign with being "an anti-Semitic campaign" which "takes its roots a long time ago, 60 years ago, in the fringes of dying Nazism." Lévy's words so enraged Khalidi and other proponents of the anti-Israel campaign that Khalidi complained to the host, then appeared himself on the show the following week.
Khalidi, an experienced propagandist, used classic propaganda tactics (name-calling, transfer/association, glittering generalities, logical fallacy, bandwagon, plain folks, and card stacking, as described by the The Institute for Propaganda Analysis) to defend BDS, and to delegitimize Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem, much as he had done several weeks earlier on WBEZ's Worldview.
Fareed Zakaria, with his history of skewing Palestinian-Israeli conflict, helped Khalidi along, not only providing him with an unfettered platform to disseminate his propaganda, but providing photos and drawings to illustrate Khalidi's propaganda points, and in the case of Jerusalem, disseminating some propaganda of his own.
Here are the facts on BDS and Jerusalem, followed by an analysis of the propaganda disseminated on Zakaria's CNN program.
BDS: The Facts
Soviet dissident, author and human rights activist Natan Sharansky has proposed a test for the "new anti-Semitism" which he describes as the three D's—double standards, discrimination and delegitimization— to indicate whether a movement, organization or campaign is anti-Semitic in nature. The BDS campaign employs all three: it uses double standards to single out the Jewish state for delegitimization and discrimination.
Proponents of the BDS campaign have made it clear that they oppose Jewish self-determination and that their ultimate goal is the elimination of a Jewish state in the region. This is what they say:
In addition to the BDS activists' articulated goal of eliminating a Jewish state, their actions demonstrate anti-Semitic motives rather than a quest for civil rights. Here are just a few of the numerous examples of how Jews are singled out for bullying by BDS activists:
The BDS campaign against the Jewish state has been condemned as anti-Semitic by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union(CDU) party, France's Supreme Court, and the UK's Minister of Justice:
The German CDU party passed an anti-BDS resolution comparing it to the Nazi boycott of Jews in 1930's Germany, noting that, "Who today under the flag of the BDS movement calls to boycott Israeli goods and services speaks the same language in which people were called to not buy from Jews. That is nothing other than coarse anti-Semitism."
In France, BDS is considered a hate crime; The French Supreme court upheld the anti-BDS Lellouche law to rule promoters of BDS guilty of anti-Jewish hate and discrimination and as a result of this law, a major French bank shut down the account of a BDS group.
BDS: The Propaganda
Here is what Khalidi said regarding the BDS campaign (interspersed with the author's comments in italics):
This is an example of how Khalidi uses the tactic of "name-calling" –i.e. "grotesque"– to discredit the charge.
Khalidi employs a logical fallacy—a false extrapolation-- to imply that because someone is Jewish, he or she cannot be anti-Semitic. In fact, the radicals who support BDS and single out the Jewish state for demonization and delegitimization include Jews on the margin who publicly distance themselves from mainstream Jewry and its support for Jewish self-determination.
Here, Khalidi uses the propaganda techniques of "glittering generalities" – i.e. vague, emotionally laden phrases – like "time-honored tactic"-- to evoke a positive feeling, and "transfer" of the positive cause of civil rights to the negative one of BDS. In fact, neither the Boston Tea Party, a protest act by colonists who were unfairly taxed by a government in which they had no representation, nor the civil rights marches in the 1960's, the non-violent demonstration for African American voting rights, nor the Montgomery bus boycott, where African Americans refrained from using segregated buses in which they would be forced to the back, were in any way akin to the BDS movement. These were all examples of colonists and citizens attempting to secure their own constitutional rights through non-violent demonstrations. They were not, as BDS' often violent actions are, an attempt to obstruct other people's constitutional rights (for example, the rights of Jews or Israelis to gather, speak or perform), or to delegitimize a state and to deny another people's right to self-determination.
Khalidi is using the technique of "card stacking" – manipulating the audience's perception of an issue by exaggerating one side and repressing the other. Here, he deliberately misrepresents the status and situation of Israeli Arabs, and the issue of Palestinians who became refugees in 1948. He stacks the cards by falsely implying that Arab citizens of Israel do not enjoy equal rights under the law and that Israel stole Palestinian homes and continues to discriminate against those who became citizens. He hides the fact that Arab citizens enjoy equal voting rights, civil rights and representation in parliament as do other citizens. And he hides the reason why Palestinians lost homes, namely, because their leaders urged them to temporarily vacate their homes while they waged an aggressive war against the nascent state of Israel. Instead of presenting the facts, card-stacking propaganda exaggerates or downplays information in order to suit the propagandist's goal.
Khalidi uses the "plain folks" strategy here to falsely imply that BDS is "of the people" with the same goals as any plain folk. But BDS is not about property rights, the right to live in your homeland, and ending occupation. It is about denying Jewish property rights, the rights of Jews to live in their homeland by eradicating the Jewish state.
For his dishonest finale, Khalidi mixes "name-calling" – calling Levy "extreme" – with role reversal – suggesting that it is Levy, and not Khalidi, who is the one "resorting to smears and slurs." He again uses "card stacking" as he manipulates the facts and reverses the role of the attacker and victim. He culminates with the propaganda technique of "bandwagon" calling on all those "with a moral conscience" to jump on the bandwagon and join the BDS movement.
Jerusalem: The Facts
The status of Jerusalem is contested: Israel considers Jerusalem – both western and eastern– the country's eternal, undivided capital based on its historical, religious and political claims to the holy city. Since Israel's reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, following 19 years of division during which Israeli Jews were excluded from the eastern part, the government through successive administrations has vowed never to re-divide the city again. In 1980, the Israeli Knesset passed a Basic Law declaring reunified Jerusalem the eternal capital of Israel, while providing for freedom of access to each religion's holy sites.
The Palestinians view eastern Jerusalem as part of the West Bank, which it considers Arab territory that Israel is illegally occupying. While Palestinians reject Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem, they claim eastern Jerusalem – with holy sites to three religions – as the capital of their future state and view the permanent status of western Jerusalem to be subject to final negotiations.
International law firmly establishes the right of Israelis to settle and reside anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, an area which includes eastern Jerusalem. This international legal right is vested in political and legal agreements drawn up in the post-World War I years between 1919 and 1923. A Mandates System established in Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, was contained in the Treaty of Versailles and other peace treaties made with the Central Powers. The Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers officially recognized Palestine as a mandated state for the Jewish people at the 1920 San Remo Conference. The San Remo Resolution of April 25, 1920 served as the basis for the future administration of Palestine which would henceforth be recognized as the Jewish National Home, as envisioned by the Balfour Declaration. The resulting 1922 Palestine Mandate, which incorporated the resolution into its preamble, confirmed Jewish historical and national rights and converted the Balfour Declaration from a statement of British foreign policy to binding international law.
According to Article 6 of the Mandate, "close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands not required for public use" was to be encouraged. Article 80 of the U.N. Charter preserved this Jewish right to settlement by specifying that nothing in the U.N. Charter's chapter on the administration of Mandate territory shall be construed " to alter in any manner" the rights of people and the terms of "existing international instruments" (for example, the Mandate).
Eugene Rostow, a legal scholar who served as U.S. under-secretary of state under the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, explained that "the Jewish right of settlement in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the existing Palestinian population to live there."
Jerusalem: The Propaganda
The host, Fareed Zakaria, in his introduction serves up his own propaganda on Jerusalem.
Zakaria is using the technique of "card stacking" where he emphasizes the facts that suit him while hiding those that do not. He emphasizes that Jerusalem was divided in two but hides the fact that this was a ceasefire line as a result of an Arab aggressive war. He hides the fact that Jordan destroyed Jewish holy sites and illegally annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem, in a move that only Pakistan recognized . He hides the fact that under Jordan's occupation and in violation of the same ceasefire agreement, Jordan denied Jews the rights to their burial and holy sites in Jerusalem.
He emphasizes Israel's "occupation" of the eastern part of Jerusalem but hides Jordan's aggression that led to Israel's capture of this territory. Zakaria hides the circumstances under which this territory, which includes Judaism's historic holy sites, came under Israeli control: During the 1967 war, Israel appealed to Jordan to stay out of the war, but despite this appeal, Jordanian forces fired artillery barrages from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Although Israeli forces did not respond initially, not wanting to open up a Jordanian front in the war, Jordan continued to attack and occupied UN headquarters in Jerusalem. Israeli forces fought back and within two days managed to repulse the Jordanian forces and retake eastern Jerusalem.
And guest Rashid Khalidi provides more.
Khalidi similarly uses the "card stacking" technique as he talks about the "separate entity" (corpus separatum) recommended in the 1947 UN General Assembly partition resolution. He hides the fact that the Arabs all rejected this resolution, so that it never went into effect, and further nullified it by aggressively attempting to annihilate the Jewish state. Similarly, while he categorically states that the United States views Israeli habitation in eastern Jerusalem to be "illegal" and that it has declared that embassies should be barred from Jerusalem until there is a final status resolution, he hides the fact that there is no unified US view about Jerusalem. While the State Department does not officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's official capital and does not recognize Israel's effective annexation of the eastern part of the city, the US Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995 to initiate and fund the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital. This was followed by the Foreign Relations Authorization Act signed by President Bush in 2002, maintaining the commitment to moving the embassy and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. U.S. presidents, caught in the middle (including President Bush), have viewed these Congressional Acts as advisory and have regularly exercised presidential waivers to temporarily suspend the move of the embassy to Jerusalem "in order to protect the national security interests of the United States."
With such disingenuous techniques employed on a mainstream U.S. news outlet, with the help of a CNN journalist, in order to influence public perception on controversial issues, it is no wonder that more and more people are talking about "fake news." (To view the tape, click here.)Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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