Media Go Soft on Democrat's Israel Is ‘Evil’ Comment: ‘Put That in Context’

The journalists at PBS and CNN are very forgiving when it comes to accusations of bigotry and hate. Well, as long as you’re a Democrat. A tweet of now-Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has resurfaced in which she calls Israel “evil” and says the nation has “hypnotized the world.” Yet, PBS journalist Christiane Amanpour asked the Democrat to simply “put that in context.” CNN wondered “what your message” is to explain away the statements. This is not the kind of media coverage Congressman Steve King received for his disturbing remarks. 

On Tuesday’s Amanpour and Company, the host read this 2012 Omar tweet: “Israel has hypnotized the world. May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” She wondered, “How do you put that into context now and what do you say to American Jews?” 

 

 

Amanpour’s sympathies were made clear when she began by lamenting the power of pro-Israel and pro-Jewish groups:  “Can I just move on to something that's generally sort of a rite of passage for politicians in the United States, and that is to sort of profess sort of fealty —  or pay homage to AIPAC, the pro-Israel PAC that is very, very prominent.” 

Referencing another Democratic Congresswoman with ties to anti-Semitism, Amanpour finally got to the point: “Should Jewish Americans be worried about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib because of one of the tweets you made a long time ago?” 

Omar compared Israel, a functioning democracy in the Middle East, to Saudi Arabia: “I say the same things, if not worse, when it comes to the Saudi government.” Amanpour did not follow up or question this comparison. 

Instead, she sounded like a press agent defending against charges of anti-Jewish bigotry: “Just to have you on the record and to get you to say exactly what you mean, so you're saying holding a government like Israel accountable, even criticizing government policy, is not anti-Semitic?” 

Here is the tweet in question: 

 

 

On CNN’s Newsroom, Thursday, hosts Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto interviewed Omar for over ten minutes. But they managed just one question about her tweet. Harlow at least managed to call it “deeply offensive.” 

 

 

I do want to ask you also about your comments on Israel to remind people what you tweeted about Israel in 2012 during the offensive in Gaza. You wrote, “Israel has hypnotized the world. May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” You have commented a lot since then trying to explain what you meant by that. I wonder just what your message is this morning as the first on our game changer series to Jewish-Americans who find that deeply offensive. 

Harlow then changed topics to Congressman Steve King’s disturbing comments about white supremacy. She explained that “you voted to reprehend him as well this week for his racist remarks.” Harlow wondered, “Steve King should be censured?” 

Perhaps it didn’t occur to the CNN journalist that Congresswoman Omar isn’t in the best position to judge when it comes to offensive remarks. 

On Tuesday, the networks were silent about Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib meeting with a pro-Hezbollah activist who hates Israel. 

Partial transcripts of the two interviews are below. Click “expand” to read more. 

 

CNN Newsroom
1/17/18
10:29am ET 

POPPY HARLOW: I do want to ask you also about your comments on Israel to remind people what you tweeted about Israel in 2012 during the offensive in Gaza. You wrote, “Israel has hypnotized the world. May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” You have commented a lot since then trying to explain what you meant by that. I wonder just what your message is this morning as the first on our game changer series to Jewish-Americans who find that deeply offensive. 

REP. ILHAN OMAR: Oh. That's really a regrettable way of expressing that. I don't know how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans. My comments precisely are addressing what was happening during the Gaza war. I am clearly speaking about the way that the Israeli regime was conducting itself in that war. 

HARLOW: Before you go, we saw Steve King reprimanded by everyone except for one member of the House. So you voted to reprehend him as well this week for his racist remarks. You called it an overwhelmingly bold message. There was one member of Congress, your fellow Democrat, Representative Bobby Rush who voted against that because he said, “Look,this doesn't go far enough. This is not a censure. We need to say more on these racist remarks.”  He said it was not worth the paper it was written on. I wonder, Congresswoman, what do you think? Do you think that Representative Steve King should be censured? 

OMAR: Yes. I think it's really important in a moment in a time in our nation's history where racism and bigotry is rampant that we take a bold stance.


Amanpour and Company 
1/15/19
11:17pm ET 

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Can I just move on to something that's generally sort of a rite of passage for politicians in the United States, and that is to sort of profess sort of fealty —  or pay homage to AIPAC, the pro-Israel PAC that is very, very prominent. Should Jewish Americans be worried about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib because of one of the tweets you made a long time ago? You were part of a new wave of Democrats not afraid to be critical of the government of Israel. During the 2012 military offensive in Gaza, you tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world. May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”  How do you put that into context now and what do you say to American Jews?

CONGRESSWOMAN ILHAN OMAR: I remember when that was happening watching TV and really feeling as if no other life was being impacted in this war. And that really —  those unfortunate words were the only words I could think about expressing at that moment. And what is really important to me is that people recognize that there is a difference between criticizing a military action by a government that has exercised really oppressive policies and being offensive or attacking to particular people of faith. I say the same things, if not worse, when it comes to the Saudi government.

I've called for boycotts and boycott to Saudi Arabia because to me it is important when you see oppression taking place, when you see regressiveness happening, when you see our values being attacked as humans, you must stand up and it doesn't matter who the inhabiters of that region might be. It is who is leading it and we must address the leadership that leads to a more unjust world if we are to express our values of peace and justice in the world.

AMANPOUR: So just to have you on the record and to get you to say exactly what you mean, so you're saying holding a government like Israel accountable, even criticizing government policy, is not anti-Semitic?

OMAR: Absolutely not, Absolutely not.

 


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