CNN’s Jake Tapper made an unexpected and bewildering claim on 20 May that felt straight out of the McCarthy era. He failed only to wave a list of names in the air.
Support for genocide and support for equal rights are very different things. Tapper, however, appears to be conflating support for equal rights with genocide.
In an interview with CNN analyst Gloria Borger, he asserted, “We can’t overstate that he [Joe Biden] was under pressure from, not just the far left progressives like Rashida Tlaib and other progressives who I think it’s questionable even if they think Israel has a right to exist, but more moderate senators like Tim Kaine, even like Chuck Schumer, people who traditionally support Israel, who didn’t want to watch again as Israel conducted air strikes on Gaza in a way that these Democrats perceived to be disproportionate.”
Yes, it’s striking that Kaine and Schumer aren’t clamoring for further Israeli bombing of Gaza.
But who are the unnamed progressives in Congress who Tapper suggests may not support Israel’s “right to exist”?
I have asked the CNN anchor which progressives he had in mind. There has been no response.
Tapper doesn’t seem to be speaking exclusively of Tlaib, who is on record supporting one state with equal rights for all. In any event, that simply means she doesn’t think Israel has a right to exist as an apartheid state.
That’s not an unusual perspective. After all, few are willing to go on record today claiming South Africa had a right to exist as an apartheid state.
Tapper clearly thinks politicians can be damaged by his existential claims. But times are changing and it’s increasingly questionable to think that Americans support Israel’s supposed right to exist as an apartheid state.
Either a correction or a clarification is in order. What evidence does Tapper have and what was he trying to say?
More from Jake Tapper
Days before his comment, Tapper retweeted an appearance of Congressman Ritchie Torres on the House floor. There, Torres had inveighed against Phara Souffrant Forrest (without specifically naming her), a member of the New York State Assembly, for a tweet which showed a map of what she described as historic Palestine covered with flowers.First Souffrant used the hashtag “#FreePalestine” and then 18 hours later noted: “This is a map of historic Palestine.”
She then cited the recent Human Rights Watch report on Israel’s practice of apartheid and said that “the reality on the ground is apartheid.”
She added, “We need to make sure that our tax dollars don’t support the oppression of any peoples.”
The Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey misrepresented her effort to call for equal rights for all between the river and the sea by labeling the tweet “incendiary and outrageous” before falsely claiming that she was “denying” Jewish history there.
Tali Goldsheft, director of communications at Americans for Ben-Gurion University, tweeted, “As your constituent, I’d like to know where is your apology for tweeting a call for genocide.”
She then claimed Israel doesn’t practice apartheid, despite evidence provided for decades by Palestinians and more recently by Human Rights Watch and Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.Tapper has amplified anti-Palestinian hate and downplayed Israel’s employment of apartheid. I don’t believe he retweeted Torres to educate people, but because he supports the congressman’s anti-Palestinian misrepresentations.
Souffrant eventually removed the tweet under pressure from deniers of Israeli apartheid.
Meanwhile, right-wing cancel culture was in full swing and getting results with the Associated Press’ firing of the newly hired Emily Wilder.
Wilder was recently a member of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace while at Stanford University. Canary Mission, a secretive pro-Israel group, kept an intimidation dossier on her in hopes that her job prospects – and that of hundreds of other students – would be impeded by their documentation and misrepresentations of her Palestine-related human rights work.
The Washington Post reports that she started her new job on 3 May and was fired just 16 days later, supposedly for violating AP’s social media policy.
On 16 May she tweeted: “‘Objectivity’ feels fickle when the basic terms we use to report news implicitly stake a claim.”
She added: “Using ‘Israel’ but never ‘Palestine,’ or ‘war’ but not ‘siege and occupation’ are political choices – yet media make those exact choices all the time without being flagged as biased.”In short, she was fired because of a campaign against her and because her bosses didn’t like their biases and racism being called out even in a critique not directed specifically at AP. Those AP leaders have faced significant dissent from AP journalists since the decision.
This sort of truth-telling and courage may no longer have a place in the world of mainstream journalism, but other groups will likely be leaping at the chance to hire someone who put principle over job security so early in her career.
For years I had a colleague who warned that college students were terrified to be too public, either because they feared the consequences if they traveled through Israeli security at Ben Gurion airport or because they feared ending up on Canary Mission’s hit list and being denied a job as a consequence.
That colleague was right.
Emily Wilder wasn’t intimidated, but AP has provided another reason for student concern.
Look, too, at CNN. Jake Tapper has frozen out a prominent East Coast Palestinian from appearing on his program despite the expertise of the individual.
Marc Lamont Hill was fired by CNN for speaking up for equal rights for all between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea while Rick Santorum got a job at CNN in 2017 despite his having said in 2011: “All the people that live in the West Bank are Israelis. They are not Palestinians. There is no Palestinian. This is Israeli land.”
Santorum’s contract was finally terminated by CNN in recent days on account of his saying of European settlers in the US that “we birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here.”
He then added that “there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”
Rick Santorum’s departure took a long time and doesn’t appear to have been Palestine-related. Marc Lamont Hill and Emily Wilder, however, were quickly ousted.
Free speech connected to Palestinian equal rights remains in short supply in mainstream US media.
- Jake Tapper
- Gloria Borger
- Joe Biden
- Rashida Tlaib
- Tim Kaine
- Charles Schumer
- apartheid South Africa
- israeli apartheid
- One State
- Ritchie Torres
- Phara Souffrant Forrest
- Human Rights Watch
- Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey
- Tali Goldsheft
- Americans for Ben-Gurion University
- Emily Wilder
- Associated Press
- Students for Justice in Palestine
- Jewish Voice for Peace
- Stanford University
- Canary Mission
- The Washington Post
- Marc Lamont Hill
- Rick Santorum
- May 2021 attack on Gaza