Pro-Palestine MSNBC Guest: Israeli Spokespeople ‘Blame Victims For Their Own Deaths’

Following an antagonistic interview with Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev, MSNBC’s Joy Reid brought pro-Palestinian guest on to her July 23 Reid Report program for his reaction. Reid lobbed a few softballs and let Yousef Munayyer – executive director of the Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center – direct cheap shot after cheap shot at Israel, irrespective of the facts.

But what really takes the cake is how Munayyer used his platform to deny that Hamas uses innocent Gaza civilians as human shields.  Reid, for her part, failed to push back against that ridiculous assertion. [MP3 audio here; video below]

Munayyer insisted he was shocked that the Israelis are essentially “blam[ing] the victims for their own deaths. I think there’s something fundamentally wrong and, in fact, racist about that argument.”

Of course, Israeli spokespeople have not blamed the Palestinian civilians for their own deaths. They have blamed Hamas for initiating the conflict in a way that warranted an aggressive military response and for locating munitions in civilian locations like mosques, residences, and hospitals.

Munayyer also seemed to directly contradict a UN report on the military tactics of Hamas during this conflict:

Of course, the Israelis are going to try to defend what they're doing on the ground. So I think you always need to consider the source. This issue of human shields is something that we've heard time and time again. This claim is not new.

The pro-Palestine lobbyist carried on this argument by definitively denying Hamas's use of human shields and blaming Israel for using them in prior military operations. He claimed:

Amnesty International undertook a major investigation in the Gaza strip and published a 100-page report in which they found no evidence of Palestinians using Palestinian civilians as human shields. But rather, instead, they found Israeli ground troops were using Palestinians as human shields.

All of this went entirely undisputed by Joy Reid, who minutes earlier had voiced opposition to virtually every claim that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s spokesman made about the conflict. Earlier, an MSNBC guest had accused the network of not having enough of a Palestinian voice on their programs.

Not only is this statement demonstrably false, but one could argue that MSNBC’s programming is overwhelmingly pro-Palestinian, occasionally pro-Hamas, and definitively anti-Israel. Hour by hour, Palestinian activists are given a platform in order to blame Israel for a battle they did not start and have attempted to end peacefully. Reid’s aggressive interview with the Israeli spokesman followed by a warm, agreeable interview with a pro-Palestine individual summed up in 15 short minutes MSNBC’s general editorial stance on the Israeli-Hamas conflict.

The relevant portion of the transcript is below.  

MSNBC
The Reid Report
July 23, 2014
2:12 p.m. Eastern

JOY REID: Joining me now is Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center. I hope you had a chance to listen to my interview with Mr. Regev the spokesman for the Israeli prime minister. Your reaction?

YOUSEF MUNAYYER: Well, first of all, you know, I think it's unfortunate that we can hear Israeli spokespeople who are speaking on behalf of a military force that is inflicting massive civilian casualties on the ground stand here in front of your viewers and essentially blame the victims for their own deaths. I think there's something fundamentally wrong and, in fact, racist about that argument. Of course, the Israelis are going to try to defend what they're doing on the ground. So I think you always need to consider the source. This issue of human shields is something that we've heard time and time again. This claim is not new. In fact, when there are independent investigations of what happens on the ground. For example, after the operation in 2008, 2009 in which the Israelis killed 1400 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians, Amnesty International undertook a major investigation in the Gaza strip and published a 100-page report in which they found no evidence of Palestinians using Palestinian civilians as human shields. But rather, instead, they found Israeli ground troops were using Palestinians as human shields. So while there's a war going on, it's very difficult for there to be independent corroboration of this and very easy, of course, for the Israelis to make up info graphics and videos and whatever else to claim that Palestinians, you know, just want to stand in front of Israeli missiles. I really don't think that's the case. I don't think that, you know, independent reporting has proved that to be the case. In fact, you know, NBC's correspondents on the ground, Richard Engel and Ayman Mohyeldin as well as a number of other western correspondents on the ground in the Gaza strip have done a lot of fantastic reporting about what's really going on over there. And we've seen so many people being told, you know, leave this location, go to this location, and then when they go there, those areas are being targeted as well.

REID: Let me ask you this question, because the UN high commissioner for human rights was very clear on saying that as much as she expressed concern about the bombing of civilian facilities like hospitals and schools, she did also condemn Hamas’s practice of locating weapons, cashes of weapons etcetera, very close to the very things she discussed, hospitals and schools. Is there validity to that criticism, and is there something that Hamas is doing itself to put these civilians in danger?

MUNAYYER: Well again, I think that, you know, the United Nations's human rights commission is going to do an independent investigation after this. They should be able to. All parties should cooperate with that. Again, as they have done in the past, what we've seen in the past and what we're seeing today on the ground is a reality between a very strong state military force and a non-state actor on the ground that's among a largely civilian population. And the reality is that the use of force in this space is inevitably going to create massive civilian casualties that cannot be justified by the military aims that they're seeking to get. I think the bigger question here is not a tactical one. The bigger criticism here is not merely a tactical one, but it's also a strategic one. The Israelis launched a military operation in the Gaza strip that they knew would cause massive civilian death, and they also knew would not significantly change the military dynamic. That is the major crime in my view here. And I think that, you know, we should be demanding answers to these kinds of questions as to why the Israelis decided to go in this direction when they could go through a peaceful direction, a diplomatic direction and address the legitimate grievances of Palestinians on the ground.

Connor Williams
Connor Williams
Connor Williams is a contributing writer for NewsBusters.