MSNBC Gives Platform to Radical Pro-Hamas Attorney

You can always count on MSNBC to bring on a radical, seemingly pro-Hamas guest in order to get ‘both sides’ of the argument in Israel's struggle for survival against terrorism. On a July 17 special late night edition of All In with Chris Hayes, guest host Ari Melber discussed the news of Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza with a panel of guests.

Melber led off the segment by asking Noura Erakat – described as a human rights attorney by MSNBC – whether the invasion was a “proportionate and precise operation?” Naturally, Erakat went unhinged: [MP3 audio here; video below]

There's nothing proportionate about an all out massacre of civilians who are defenseless...And even assuming that Hamas is as vile as it's been made out to be, nothing justifies this type of disproportionate force upon homes, upon four boys playing hide and seek on the Gaza shore.

But wait, as they say in the TV infomercials, there's more. She claimed that in the eyes of the “international community,” there is a “discrepancy in the value of life that we’re ascribing to Palestinians versus Israelis.” Erakat then further clarfied her statement, suggesting that the world is fully dehumanizing the Palestinian people:

If 231 Israelis had been killed, we know that President Obama would have at least mourned the dead, and the fact that there's no one mourning these Palestinian lives indicates the type of dehumanization that they have gone through.

Melber questioned Erakat, wondering what would be wrong with Israel taking out the military wing of Hamas. The human rights attorney ignored him, picking up where she left off earlier in the segment:

We've heard repeatedly that Israel has bombed schools, hospitals, homes with families inside because Hamas is supposedly hiding weapons everywhere. There has yet – anyone has yet to produce a shred of evidence that there have been rockets in any of those places. Why are we swallowing this pill whole sale?

Melber cut her off, immediately disputing her false claim. “I don’t know what you mean by evidence on that, The Guardian has reported that, we can put that up on the screen, with regard to the schools.” The segment ended with Erakat asserting – without a shred of evidence – that “Israel’s debilitating siege will make Gaza unlivable by 2020...there’s continuous violence against Palestinians.”

It’s important to credit Melber for highlighting the inaccuracy of Erakat’s statements. However, the fact that MSNBC is willing to give a platform to an individual whose views are more or less consistent with those of a terrorist organization will not lead to productive dialogue on the issue.  

The relevant portion of the transcript is below:

MSNBC
All In with Chris Hayes
July 17, 2014
11:20 p.m. Eastern

ARI MELBER, host: Noura, let me start with you, as we’ve been reporting, five Palestinian deaths reported based on sources from Palestinian media there that we're still looking to confirm and an incursion here that is – as we've reported Israel says does not have any artificial timeline in its view. Is this a proportionate and precise operation?

NOURA ERAKAT, human rights attorney: There's nothing proportionate about an all out massacre of civilians who are defenseless. 231 Palestinians in the past ten days. 77% are civilians, 48 of them are children. 14 in the past two days. There has been this collapse in our mainstream discourse that Hamas is all of Palestine. Gaza is home to 1.8 million Palestinian civilians. They are not all Hamas. And even assuming that Hamas is as vile as it's been made out to be, nothing justifies this type of disproportionate force upon homes, upon four boys playing hide and seek on the Gaza shore and the lack of uproar and rage by the international community indicates to us that the discrepancy in the value of life that we're ascribing to Palestinians versus Israelis. If 231 Israelis had been killed, we know that President Obama would have at least mourned the dead, and the fact that there's no one mourning these Palestinian lives indicates the type of dehumanization that they have gone through.

MELBER: Jeremy, do you think no one is mourning these deaths and what is your view of this operation?

JEREMY BEN-AMI, J Street: Well, first of all, I really hope that people of good will across the lines and across the world are mourning the deaths of the civilians and are facing up to the tragedy that faces both peoples. This is a futile cycle of violence that has rockets flying and terrorizing one side but having really no serious impact and responded by air strikes that are killing civilians but not damaging the rocket capacity. We're trapped in a very futile circle of violence that is not serving anyone's purpose. But I think people of good will on both sides have to recognize the tragedy of the people, the innocent civilians that are caught on both sides. In this case in particular, the children in Gaza who have been dying over the last few days.

MELBER: Yeah and ambassador, we were speaking, we were getting reports this morning from a photograph in Gaza strip talking about the fact that Hamas is not widely supported there, that it is more complex. You have just been in the region ten days ago. I know Jeremy was there last week. What is your view on that aspect specifically?

MARC GINSBURG, former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco: It's very important to understand that the 1.6 million people who live in Gaza are prisoners. They are caught in a position where they cannot flee and most of them would like to have a decent life and they don't deserve what's they’ve been afflicted on courtesy of Hamas and not just Israel. And there's no doubt in my mind that when the Palestinian Authority in Hamas began, before the cycle of violence began, these unity talks, it was because Hamas recognized something that all of us understood. They had lost significant political support within the Gaza strip. They had brought most of those people to the bottom of the barrel with respect to their economic well-being, the sewer system had been collapsing, there was inadequate food supplies. It's not just because of the Israelis, it’s also because Hamas is largely a terrorist organization, feeding off of those people, using them as human shields and most importantly terrorizing them into submission by forcing them to support Hamas's goals. I dare say that if an elect was held before this all began, it most likely would have been that Hamas would have lost that election and the Palestinian Authority would have won the election in the Gaza strip.  

MELBER: Yeah, and Noura, when you look at that and when you look at the military piece of this. The reports of uh, rockets being held  in a school – an international human rights violation – obviously a lot of rockets going into Israel, although not all reaching their target. And a general view here on the Israeli side that they want to do is defang part of the military function of Hamas to try to get back to a more calm set of politics, what would be wrong with that if Hamas's military  was somewhat constrained here?

ERAKAT: Ari, there's a few things going on here. First of all, we've heard repeatedly that Israel has bombed schools, hospitals, homes with families inside because Hamas is supposedly hiding weapons everywhere. There has yet – anyone has yet to produce a shred of evidence that there have been rockets in any of those places. Why are we swallowing this pill whole sale?

MELBER: Well, the Guardian – I don’t know what you mean by evidence on that, the Guardian has reported that, we can put that up on the screen, with regard to the schools.

ERAKAT: Can you put it up on the screen about a Wafa hospital, a rehabilitation center that the Red Cross was try to evacuate today where 17 patients were trying to leave and could not leave that there were rockets in that hospital. But all of this is to distract from the real issue. If all of these rockets stopped today, Israel's debilitating siege will make Gaza unlivable by 2020. That means that within 6 years, those 1.8 million Palestinians will be unable to survive because of a lack of access to water, a lack of access to proper infrastructure, to medicine, to be able to travel. And so we need to go the structural issues at hand here. What is the context that is making this a recurring issue? It is not a cycle of violence. There's continuous violence against Palestinians. This is an escalation of violence that we need to continue to pay attention to and not turn our heads away just because it's not a spectacle.

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