Said Arikat is not the only journalist in the State Dept. briefing room who makes blatantly false statements about Israel. Arikat gets in his slams against Israel at just about every briefing. He also has repeatedly acted as if he works for the Palestinian Authority, beseeching the State Dept. spokesperson to please, provide more funding to the aggrieved Palestinian Arabs.
Such statements remain etched to a greater or lesser degree on the people in the room, including the other journalists, plus, of course, the State Department spokesperson heading the briefing.
Rosalind Jordan, though not a serial slanderer, uttered a flatly false statement about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the joint session of Congress on Tuesday, March 3.
Jordan is a reporter for Al Jazeera. Perhaps it is a cheap shot to mention, but Jordan worked as a journalist for several years during the mid-2000’s with NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams (yes, that Brian Williams.)
A State Department daily press briefing took place within two hours of the prime minister’s speech on Tues, March 3. During that briefing there was a good deal of discussion about Netanyahu’s speech. There was, not surprisingly, significant pushback by Marie Harf, State’s deputy spokesperson.
Jordan, however, asked a question that revealed how little attention she and others actually paid to the speech. The question Jordan asked had to do with Iran and ISIL (ISIS).
First, this is what the prime minister actually said about those two terrorist entities:
Don’t be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn’t turn Iran into a friend of America.
Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.
In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.
So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.
The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember — I’ll say it one more time — the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can’t let that happen.
That is what Netanyahu said. Two terrorist entities, fighting each other for who will be the radical hegemon in the region. And the prime minister’s central point was that just because Iran and ISIS are fighting each other, and the U.S. is fighting ISIS, that does not mean that Iran is a friend to the U.S.
But here is what Al-Jazeera’s Rosalind Jordan asks the State Department’s Harf:
JORDAN: Did the Prime Minister mis-state the relationship between Iran and ISIL?
MS. HARF: I’m trying to remember how he stated it.
JORDAN: He said that —
JORDAN: He basically suggested that they were working together.
Really? No, Netanyahu actually – not basically – said the exact opposite. He said Iran and ISIS were enemies, battling it out for top bad dog in the ‘hood. But Harf responded as if Jordan’s question accurately reflected Netanyahu’s statement:
MS. HARF: Well, I mean, I think that’s a gross oversimplification. Clearly, ISIL is a serious threat that we are taking on with direct military action. It is a terrorist organization. It is not a state. It is not a country. It has taken over a territory, and we’re working to push it back. Certainly, it poses a threat, but Iran’s destabilizing activities in places are a little bit different and require different tools. Even their support for terrorism with a group like Hizballah, Hizballah is different than ISIL. They’re just different groups, and you deal with them in different ways.
At the point in the briefing at which Jordan asked this question, Harf had already been speaking about the Israeli prime minister’s speech for at least ten minutes. So, either Harf had not watched the speech at all, but was just lecturing from talking points, or she had watched the speech but did not understand one of the most basic points Netanyahu made.
And no one else in the State Department briefing room pointed out how completely off-target either Jordan’s question was, or Harf’s response to it. And those reporters are the ones informing the news consumers of this planet.