CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Attacks Netanyahu, ‘Right-Wing’ for Being ‘Racist’ Toward Arabs

Appearing on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper on Tuesday afternoon, chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour slammed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his Likud Party and “right-wing” allies for having “a sort-of racist policy towards” Arabs that has been “very scary for them” as the world awaited results from the national elections in Israel.

Host Jake Tapper brought Amanpour into the discussion by mentioning a YouTube video released by Netanyahu’s party on Tuesday morning telling supporters to head to the polls after accusations that Arabs were being transported to the polls by, in the words of Tapper, “left-leaning organizations.” 

Tapper pointed out that some “people in the Israeli media” were critical of Netanyahu “for what they describe as a racist appeal, but it looks as though this appeal, whether or not one likes it, might have helped galvanize his base to get to the polls.”

Amanpour added that it was not just the media, but “Arab-Israeli parliamentarians” she spoke with that lamented Netanyahu’s “scare-mongering” for stifling their attempt to “work unprecedentally in the system for our rights and for, you know, Jewish rights.” 

Continuing to build that victim narrative, Amanpour defended Arabs and declined to refute their straw-man argument about Netanyahu:

We are citizens of this country. Let’s not forget, it’s not like a bunch of Arabs from neighboring next door are being bused in to the elections. Israeli Arabs, citizens of the country, 1.7 million of them, as this parliamentarian told me, have been incredibly motivated in this election and they want to get out and try to better their lives, but they’re very conscious, as one of them – as this one told me, that they feel that the Likud Party and the right wing do have a sort-of racist policy towards them and it's very scary for them. 

While Amanpour was mounting a full defense of Arab-Israelis, she failed to cite the fact that the Arab parties that combined to form a joint list for the election include members who have some radical and arguably anti-Semitic policies themselves.

The remainder of the segment revolved around Amanpour running point for Netanyahu’s main rival, Isaac Herzog, for focusing not on foreign policy or the negotiations taking place in Switzerland over Iran’s nuclear program but the economy and blasting Netanyahu for refusing to move the needle on peace talks with the Palestinians to create a two-state solution.

(h/t: John Nolte)

The relevant portions of the transcript from CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper on March 17 are transcribed below.

CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper
March 17, 2015
4:19 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Breaking News; Israeli TV Exit Poll: Netanyahu, Herzog Neck-and-Neck]

JAKE TAPPER: Christiane, in the United States, we woke up this morning to the news that Netanyahu had put out a YouTube video imploring his supporters to show up to the polls today, claiming that Palestinians or Arabs as he called them were being bused to the polls by left-leaning organizations. He was very criticized by people in the Israeli media for what they describe as a racist appeal, but it looks as though this appeal, whether or not one likes it, might have helped galvanize his base to get to the polls.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Well, you're absolutely right and it wasn’t just the press. It was also the Arab-Israeli parliamentarians, those who made the joint list, who are also incredibly upset by that YouTube appeal and I just spoke to one of them who’s part of the joint list who said, look, we have made an unprecedented coalition. We want to work unprecedentally in the system for our rights and for, you know, Jewish rights and by the way, who are these Arabs that they are scare-mongering us? We are citizens of this country. Let’s not forget, it’s not like a bunch of Arabs from neighboring next door are being bused in to the elections. Israeli Arabs, citizens of the country, 1.7 million of them, as this parliamentarian told me, have been incredibly motivated in this election and they want to get out and try to better their lives, but they’re very conscious, as one of them – as this one told me, that they feel that the Likud Party and the right wing do have a sort-of racist policy towards them and it's very scary for them. 

TAPPER: That’s right. We should underline the fact that these Arabs, these Palestinian voters, these are citizens with full voting rights, but, Christiane, let's move on. I want to ask about the hypothetical if Netanyahu is not able to hold on to power because it's too close to call now. We don't know. How do you think that would impact Israel's stance, the official government’s stance, on these talks going on with Iran to at least contain the Iranian nuclear program? 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Israeli TV Exit Poll: Election Too Close to Call]

(....)

TAPPER: Obviously, as in many countries, the biggest issue in Israeli was the economy an affordable housing, a very big issue in Israel, not so much the Iranian nuclear deal as much as affordable housing. Netanyahu telling supporters Sunday, though, that he would not allow a Palestinian state if he were to become Prime Minister again. If he does not win, again, he's ahead in the channel 2 poll, so we don’t know what’s going to happen. Would Herzog move towards restarting peace talks for a two-state solution?

AMANPOUR: Well, he certainly talked about peace talks and again, they have been quite, you know, again this whole issue has not been their main issue. Herzog talked mostly about the economy. The things that most of the Israeli people were concerned about, but, it is all tied in with the whole Arab situation as well. I spoke today to a key partner in the region of the United States, Saudi Arabia and it’s the Saudis plan that is on the table that Netanyahu pretty much just dumped and it’s going to be Houdini act to get back to it, but what it means, according to the former Saudi intelligence minister, is that if there’s no two state solution, there is a one state solution. What does that mean? You know, potentially 6 million Palestinians being given, presumably, four democratic rights along 6 million Jews. What is going to happen to Israel as a democratic state for the Jewish people? That is a huge issue plus, you know, many people have said, and your last guest said, oh well, you know, if Netanyahu wins, he’ll come back to the peace table. Some Arab leaders think he could be Nixon goes to China, but I put it to the former Saudi intelligence minister, it's been nine years. No movement on the peace process under Netanyahu. Is the world deluded?

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections Israel/Palestine Race Issues Racism Religion Islam Judaism CNN The Lead Video Jake Tapper Christiane Amanpour Benjamin Netanyahu
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