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by Leslie Sacks


The successful lies of Dr. Hanan Ashwari epitomize the (most recent) Palestinian victory in the Gaza propaganda sweepstakes. FOX News uses her regularly to provide the Palestinian side of "fair and balanced." This longtime PLO spokeswoman, of course, is anything but. She harangues the audience with emotional and outrageous untruths, with nary a criticism. The interviewers, it seems, go mute in the face of such passionate, well-spoken English from the West Bank.

FOX's Geraldo Rivera has little capacity for critical thinking or maintaining control of his interview. He does, however show maximum respect for any and all positions expounded, no matter how fanatical or obnoxious. Thus, when Ashwari claims dismissively that Hamas has sent over to Israel only some 400 handmade pipes without explosive heads (and not a single rocket, apparently), Geraldo sits gaping at her clear intellectual superiority. He does not mention the over 5,000 rockets launched over the last three years, nor the more advanced long-range Grad missiles from Syria and Iran that can reach over 800,000 of Israel's southern population.

When Ashwari goes on to claim, with a perfectly straight face, that Israel, in the first 60 seconds of its attacks on Hamas, laid down 400 bombs on Gaza — hyperbole that only mental gymnasts of Ashwari's caliber can achieve — Geraldo's face remains just as straight. How could a few pipes compare to the bombs of the fourth most powerful army in the world? Geraldo has no answer.

When Geraldo does gamely suggest that Hamas locates its rockets and armaments in civilian areas, Ashwari dismissively claims her host is talking nonsense. That's old Israeli propaganda, of course. Never mind the secondary explosions continually evident in Israeli Air Force videos. Hamas and Hezbollah have long used this technique to both hide weapons and dissuade Israeli attacks. Ashwari knows this as well as any military analyst who has ever dealt with the Middle East. (Even an Iranian newspaper reported on this habit.)

A series of other lies go unchallenged. Ashwari claims that 30% of the casualties in Gaza are children, a figure that contradicts even Hamas' exaggerated claims. She argues that the Israelis' pinpoint bombing is unconscionable when compared with Hamas' launching of "blind" rockets into civilian areas. She rails against the number of Palestinian casualties. Again, there is no mention of the fact that Hamas makes no provision for civilian bomb shelters (though they devote many resources to digging tunnels), in the barbaric hope that collateral civilian casualties will ensure continued propaganda victories.

By contrast, Gregg Jarrett of FOX News shows how good interview journalism is done. In his recent interview with a representative of the "Arab Side," he was forced to continually interrupt his guest to show untrue, fallacious and incorrect were her claims. When the guest accused Jarrett of knowing nothing about Gaza, since he had obviously never been there, Jarrett quietly reminds his presumptuous interviewee that he had indeed spent time in Gaza, and knew it well. Kudos to Jarrett — there is no moral or journalistic reason to allow unadulterated propaganda to abuse our television channels. Geraldo could learn something from his colleague.

Leslie Sacks is an art dealer and gallerist in Los Angeles. This article appeared january 21, 2009 in Family Security Matters (FSM) Send Feedback to


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