MSNBC’s Messy Altercation

As if Michael Moran wasn’t enough, is now featuring a web log by Eric Alterman, whose other job is media columnist for The Nation — the anti-Israel fringe publication with contributors like Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, Michael Lerner and Alexander Cockburn. (

As a further example of Alterman’s perspective, in April he wrote a column complaining that “Some Jewish groups in America like to harass news organizations like The Washington Post or National Public Radio for what they believe to be coverage insufficiently sympathetic to Israel’s plight.”

And now for the news. On August 15, Alterman wrote on


“Marwan Barghouti plans and helps execute attacks against Israelis in the occupied territories, just as the Israelis do to the Palestinians. His people are at war over the occupation. He has expressed willingness to recognize Israel within its pre-1967 borders. He is, in other words, the very definition of a freedom fighter; a violent one, to be sure, but fighting a violent enemy. If Israel were to come to its senses, he is the kind of leader with whom it would need to make peace. But like Hamas, Ariel Sharon prefers war and occupation to peace and compromise and in seeking to try one of the other side’s more moderate leaders for murder, seeks to destroy any hope for the former, thereby presenting himself as the champion of the latter. It is a horrifying spiral of death with Sharon and company leading the whirlwind. The blood of many, Jew and Arab, is on their hands.”

Read it again. Alterman calls the arch-terrorist Barghouti “the very definition of a freedom fighter.” He says that Ariel Sharon is “like Hamas” and is leading the “horrifying spiral of death.”

These comments are beyond the realm of normal political debate. But MSNBC is giving these views prominence.

On August 19, Alterman tries to wipe up his mess by revising the original article. But it gets even worse, with Alterman plodding on about the “illegal, immoral… brutal… oppressive” occupation “on land to which they have no legal or moral right.”

Read the updated article at:

Write to Alterman at:

If you believe that Alterman’s comments are radically irresponsible, write to MSNBC ombudsman Dan Fisher at:

Or to:

Or to:
MSNBC on the Internet
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052


Also from MSNBC is an example of historical revisionism by Jim Maceda, who reports under the headline “Arab Israelis Caught in Between: For 1.3 million Arabs in Israel, fear and anger mix with ambivalence.” (August 16)

Maceda refers to Palestinians in 1948 who “were lucky enough to escape ‘transfer’ by the nascent Israeli government.” Maceda offers no documentation to support this provocative accusation, and makes no mention of the fact that Israeli politicians publicly implored the local Arabs to stay.

Maceda also severely understates the amount of terror attacks that Israel has faced. He writes:

“[S]ources quoted by the Israeli Ministry of Interior claim that every terror attack inside Israel over the past 22 months has had, directly or indirectly, an Israeli Arab connection. But the numbers of those incidents remain relatively small, fewer than a dozen…”

In fact, at least 60 major attacks have occurred “inside Israel over the past 22 months,” including multiple attacks in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Netanya, Afula, Kfar Sava, Rishon Lezion and Hadera. See a listing at:

Maceda also unquestioningly describes Arab allegations like this:

“But life is now so tense in Umm el Fahm that many Arabs don’t leave their houses — not due to any curfew, but because they fear being beaten by Israeli police or vigilantes.”

However, Maceda fails to cite even one example of Israeli Arabs “being beaten by Israeli police or vigilantes.” For further imbalance, Maceda’s article fails to quote any Israeli officials.

See Maceda’s article at:

If you believe the article is factually distorted, write to: