OpinionIsrael at War

Once again, ‘CNN’ gives an antisemite a propaganda platform

Just because the United Nations isn’t interested in objectivity and impartiality doesn’t mean CNN should follow suit.

Francesca Albanese, U.N. special rapporteur, briefs reporters at UN Headquarters. Credit: Loey Felipe/U.N. Photo.
Francesca Albanese, U.N. special rapporteur, briefs reporters at UN Headquarters. Credit: Loey Felipe/U.N. Photo.
David M. Litman
David M. Litman
David M. Litman is a media and education research analyst at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA).  

Her history is so replete with antisemitic rhetoric that multiple governments have condemned her. She doesn’t believe Israel has a right to self-defense. She has legitimized Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre by claiming that Palestinians “are actually forced to resort to armed struggle.” Just over a week ago, she even claimed that the Oct. 7 attack—the deadliest mass murder of Jews since the Holocaust—was not antisemitic.

Yet, bewilderingly, CNN once again decided to amplify this antisemite’s horrific allegations against the Jewish state, notwithstanding they lacked any supporting evidence, and without mentioning her extraordinary bias on the subject. The network did so in an article dated Feb. 20, titled, “UN experts demand investigation into claims Israeli forces killed, raped and sexually assaulted Palestinian women and girls,” authored by Richard RothKareem El Damanhoury and Richard Allen Greene.

That person is the United Nations’ Francesca Albanese, the U.N. Special Rapporteur notorious for her unhinged bias against Israel and the Jewish people. On Feb. 19, she issued a statement—alongside several other U.N. “experts”—claiming alarm over “credible allegations” of “human rights violations to which Palestinian women and girls continue to be subjected in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.” One of the other “experts” is Reem Alsalem, a Jordanian Palestinian who, as has been pointed out, has not only failed to condemn Hamas’s use of sexual violence, but actively assisted Albanese in trying to cast doubt on the story by claiming governments have not “appl[ied] the usual standards of discernment and credibility evaluation.”

A full review of Albanese’s background of extreme bias and antisemitism is beyond the scope of this article, and in any event has been repeatedly documented elsewhere. For present purposes, it’s sufficient to note that her history of anti-Israel bias and antisemitism is so severe and pervasive that it has repeatedly elicited strong state condemnations, a rarity in the diplomatic world. Just two weeks ago, she was strongly criticized by the French Foreign Ministry for denying the antisemitism behind the Oct. 7 massacre. A U.S. ambassador similarly condemned Albanese, remarking, “Francesca Albanese has a history of using antisemitic tropes.” Notably, the U.S. ambassador’s condemnation also quoted a previous condemnation of Albanese for her claim that the “Jewish lobby” has “subjugated” the United States.

This background is so notable because it has a direct bearing on the credibility of the allegations. The statement in question refers only to unsourced “reports,” with no accompanying details beyond the vague allegations of abuse. No names or any other useful identifying information are provided, whether for the victims, the perpetrators, or even the parties who have made the “reports.” Similarly, there are no dates or locations given with any reasonable specificity to even begin to scrutinize the veracity of the allegations.

In other words, the only evidence for their extremely vague allegations is the word of the statement’s authors that some bad things happened.

To uncritically amplify the curiously vague allegations of these individuals—without providing readers with this background on those making them—is, to borrow the words of Alsalem herself, to deny readers the information necessary to apply “the usual standards of discernment and credibility evaluation.” After all, one of those making the allegations against Israel has herself acknowledged she has “deeply held personal views” that prevent her from being objective on the topic.

Given the history of antisemitism, the rush to downplay credible allegations of sexual violence by Hamas, and their long histories of open bias against Israel, CNN owes it to its readers to provide this context. Just because the United Nations isn’t interested in objectivity and impartiality doesn’t mean CNN should follow suit.

Originally published by The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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