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PBS's Amanpour Highlights Israeli Jewish 'Incitement,' No Mention of Arabs

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Monday's Amanpour & Co. show on PBS (also shown on CNN International), host Christiane Amanpour devoted a segment to interviewing the director of a film, titled Incitement, that has come under criticism for suggesting right-leaning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu helped stoke up "incitement" that led to the 1995 assassination of left-leaning Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist.

As Amanpour introduced the 11-minute segment, she made the first of two references to Netanyahu being blamed for the "incitement" from 1995:

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Now, we turn to a dramatic new film that tells the story of the assassination of the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin. Almost 25 years later, the real-life story behind incitement continues to tear at the fabric of Israeli society. The country's current leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, is yet to form a government three months after the election. And he's been accused by opposition leader Benny Gantz of heated rhetoric, he says, played a role in Rabin's assassination, which Netanyahu's spokesman rejects.

After showing a clip of the film which is provocatively presented from the point of view of the assassin, Yigal Amir, the PBS host added: "Amir was captured and is serving a life sentence, but authorities never went after the rabbis who were implicated for fear of sparking a civil war among Israeli Jews."

After introducing her guest, film director Yaron Silberman, she began by posing:

Well, this is a really powerful film, and it's hard to talk about it as a film because it feels so real. And I just wonder, from the perspective of an Israeli -- you were there when Rabin was assassinated. What do you remember? And what caused you all these years later to make this into a feature film?

Silberman began by recalling that most Israeli Jews were hoping for a peace plan with Palestinian Arabs in the mid-1990s, and then blamed some Jewish figures for Rabin's assassination:

YARON SILBERMAN, FILM MAKER: I think we were on route in that direction, and then we had the horrible, horrible assassination which I think is the -- based on my research -- is the result of incitement both from politicians, rabbis, the messianic rabbis from the West Bank, and all the, you know, others. You have university professors and other incitement all around, and I think that's what led to the assassinations.

Amanpour -- who, like the rest of the dominant liberal media, typically does not give coverage to anti-Jew incitement by Palestinian Arabs in spite of how much it has been extensively documented -- followed up by asking her guest to discuss the "incitement" from Jewish extremists that the film deals with:

AMANPOUR: But let me just have you walk us through the incitement because incitement is, in fact, a really powerful word because you are, as you said, you are quoting all those groups and people who you just mentioned. You're saying that really important parts of Israeli political and civil and religious society egged on this guy. Or he was able to get justification from seeking out quote, unquote, "permission," and that's what your film shows very, very carefully.

He kept trying to go to the politicians, to the rabbis, to, as you said, professors and others for them to justify what he, in his heart, believed, that this was, you know, this was betraying the state of Israel, the Oslo Peace Accords. He wanted some kind of justification from them to murder the prime minister, and that's what he got. How did you go about tracing all of that?

In her next followup, Amanpour again brought up the issue of Netanyahu being accused of helping to stoke Rabin's assassination as the PBS host played a clip of Rabin's widow, Leah Rabin, complaining about incitement. The PBS host then added:

AMANPOUR: So she used the word "incited," and, you know, you spoke in the beginning about an election and a result that, you know, we never saw this move towards peace since then -- since the assassination. And I just wondered if you can reflect on that -- on how this film is being received in Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu's spokespeople are, you know, vigorously denying that his impassioned speech against Oslo had anything to do with the atmosphere of incitement. Tell us a little bit about how it's being received there at home..

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Monday, December 2, Amanpour & Co. on PBS:

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Now, we turn to a dramatic new film that tells the story of the assassination of the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin. Almost 25 years later, the real-life story behind incitement continues to tear at the fabric of Israeli society. The country's current leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, is yet to form a government three months after the election. And he's been accused by opposition leader Benny Gantz of heated rhetoric, he says, played a role in Rabin's assassination, which Netanyahu's spokesman rejects. Now, this new film looks at events from the eyes of Rabin's killer, a religious Jewish extremist named Yigal Amir. Here is a clip from the film.

[film clip]

Amir was captured and is serving a life sentence, but authorities never went after the rabbis who were implicated for fear of sparking a civil war among Israeli Jews. Joining me now from Los Angeles to discuss this is the director of Incitement, Yaron Silberman. Mr. Silberman, welcome to the program. … Well, this is a really powerful film, and it's hard to talk about it as a film because it feels so real. And I just wonder, from the perspective of an Israeli -- you were there when Rabin was assassinated. What do you remember? And what caused you all these years later to make this into a feature film?

[Silberman recalled that in the mid-1990s that most Israeli Jews were hoping that there would be a peace plan with Palestinian Arabs]

YARON SILBERMAN, FILM MAKER: I think we were on route in that direction, and then we had the horrible, horrible assassination which I think is the -- based on my research -- is the result of incitement both from politicians, rabbis, the messianic rabbis from the West Bank, and all the, you know, others. You have university professors and other incitement all around, and I think that's what led to the assassinations.

(…)

AMANPOUR: But let me just have you walk us through the incitement because incitement is, in fact, a really powerful word because you are, as you said, you are quoting all those groups and people who you just mentioned. You're saying that really important parts of Israeli political and civil and religious society egged on this guy. Or he was able to get justification from seeking out quote, unquote, "permission," and that's what your film shows very, very carefully. He kept trying to go to the politicians, to the rabbis, to, as you said, professors and others for them to justify what he, in his heart, believed, that this was, you know, this was betraying the state of Israel, the Oslo Peace Accords. He wanted some kind of justification from them to murder the prime minister, and that's what he got. How did you go about tracing all of that?

[SILBERMAN]

AMANPOUR: I want to play you something that, in watching the film, I suddenly remembered that covering the election that had to be held after the assassination, I interviewed Leah Rabin, Yitzhak Rabin's widow, and I interviewed her on a day of the election, May 1996, and I asked her, you know, "What happens if the opposition party wins?" And, at the time, it was Likud led by Benjamin Netanyahu. This is what she said to me.

LEAH RABIN, MAY 1996: If Labor doesn't win today, then his loss was in vain, and then his loss was the triumph of the murderer and to those who sent him because he wasn't a free agent on his own. He was sent by someone -- he was incited by many people in this country.

AMANPOUR: So she used the word "incited," and, you know, you spoke in the beginning about an election and a result that, you know, we never saw this move towards peace since then -- since the assassination. And I just wondered if you can reflect on that -- on how this film is being received in Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu's spokespeople are, you know, vigorously denying that his impassioned speech against Oslo had anything to do with the atmosphere of incitement. Tell us a lttle bit about how it's being received there at home..

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