Most of us think that those who read the news to us – the well-paid talking heads such as O’Donnell and Muir and Holt – decide for themselves what news items must be covered, and how. This is not true. It is the producers of television news programs who behind the scenes have a great deal of power that we viewers scarcely comprehend. It is they who decide which stories to carry, how much airtime each story will be given, what facts will be provided, what context will be supplied, what videos will be shown, what will be deemphasized or left out altogether. They have far more power, behind the scenes, than the talking heads who deliver the news. CNN Producer Tamara Qiblawi is one of those behind-the-scenes powers, and her history of extreme pro-Palestinian and unusually malignant anti-Israeli views ought to be better known. More on Tamara Qiblawi can be found here: “Not Again: CNN Producer Tamara Qiblawi Promotes Anti-Israel Conspiracy Theories, Jokes About Jewish State’s Destruction,” by Akiva Van Koningsveld, Honest Reporting, April 10, 2023:
A CNN journalist shared a string of offensive, anti-Israel and pro-terror comments on social media, HonestReporting revealed on Monday [April 10], following up on six other revelations of blatantly antisemitic journalists since last August.
A slanted April 8 CNN International article headlined “Attacks in West Bank, Tel Aviv as tensions remain high following Israeli strikes” initially failed to note that the airstrikes were in response to acts of aggression from terrorist groups in Gaza and Lebanon.
An examination of one of the names on the byline reveals a possible explanation.
Tamara Qiblawi, a Georgetown-educated native of Lebanon, has done work for CNN since 2015, and currently holds the position of Senior Digital Middle East Producer at the US broadcaster’s London bureau. However, Qiblawi’s social media history casts doubt on her commitment to CNN’s editorial standards, specifically when it comes to reporting on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Qiblawi has a senior position as “Senior Digital Middle East Producer” at CNN, where she can exert great influence on what is included in the nightly news, and to a great extent she can fashion stories to her liking. In the past, when she was unguarded in her postings, she provided evidence of her extreme anti-Israel bias on social media. Once found out, however, she promptly removed the offending comments, but thankfully, not before others had captured for posterity her Facebook entries, tweets, and other online comments.
For instance, in a May 15, 2015, Facebook entry, she described the events surrounding Israel’s founding with the Palestinian term “Nakba,” an Arabic word meaning “catastrophe,” while denouncing the creation of a safe haven for Jews as “mak[ing] way for an ethno-religious exclusive state.”
Is Israel an “ethno-religious exclusive state,” as Qiblawi claims? Surely not. There are two million Muslim Arabs in that state; they enjoy the same civil, religious, and political rights as do Israeli Jews. So do the Christians, Bahais, and others who, as Israeli citizens, have equal rights with the Jews. Israeli Arabs serve on the Supreme Court, sit in the Knesset, go abroad as ambassadors, work side by side with Jews in factories and offices, study with Jewish classmates in universities, play on the same sports teams and on the same orchestras with Jews. The head of Israel’s largest bank, Bank Leumi, is an Arab. There is only one difference in the treatment of Arabs and Jews, and it is in the Arabs’ favor. Jewish Israelis must, while Arab Israelis may, serve in the military. What Qiblawi calls the “Nakba” or “catastrophe,” is a reference to the failure of the five Arab armies that invaded Israel on May 15, 1948 to attain their goal of wiping out the Jewish state. For Muslim Arabs, the “catastrophe” is that they were unable to destroy Israel and kill, or expel, all of its Jewish inhabitants. And that is how Qiblawi views the Arab defeat, and Israel’s survival, in the war of 1948.
Mere months before her name first appeared on the CNN website, Qiblawi publicly corresponded with a friend who fantasized about “the end of the Zionist state.” When that friend pictured retiring in “Haifa, the coastal northern metropolis of Palestine [sic]… at the George Habash [PFLP leader] resort, in which European Jewish waiters serve my ever frustrating needs,” Qiblawi responded with “lol,” in addition to liking the comment.
Yes, Qiblawi greatly enjoyed her friend’s hilarious fantasy of Arabs taking over all of Israel, and renaming places after terrorists such as George Habash, the murderous leader of the PFLP, a fantasy that includes the killing or expelling of almost all of its Jews, save for a few allowed to remain to take on menial tasks as servants for their Arab masters. Great fun, she answered with both “lol” and a “like.” Why the imagined prospect of Israel’s destruction made her “laugh out loud.” She’s the perfect employee to help produce CNN’s news program. But shouldn’t she really be working for the Palestinian Wafa News Agency in Ramallah, or for Al Jazeera in its Doha headquarters?
Two days after the January 2015 terror attack in Paris, which targeted the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket, Qiblawi took to Facebook to tell her followers she was “not convinced” that Islamist terrorists perpetrated the massacre, and complained about “the absence of any critical consideration of the parties with a vested interest in framing Muslims.”
Yes, even though the Charlie Hebdo killers, the brothers Said and Chérif Khouachi, had long histories of both Islamic jihadist and criminal activity, and even though, after initially eluding police, they decided to shoot it out with the gendarmes and die as “martyrs,” Qiblawi tweets that she is “not convinced” that “Islamist terrorists” were behind the massacre. But who else would those Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Muhammad offend to the point of committing murder? Qiblawi chooses instead to believe, without the slightest evidence, that those Charlie Hebdo journalists could have been deliberately murdered by those — Israelis? Americans? – who hoped to then blame innocent Muslims for the atrocity. This is a conspiracy theory on the level of those who claimed that the Israelis must have been behind the 9/11/2001 attacks in order to frame innocent Muslims; these are the lunatic conspiracy theorists who insist that Israel must have been behind the 9/11 attacks because, though it has been hushed up, “no Jew went to work in the World Trade Center that day.”
In a follow-up comment, the journalist wrote: “[O]ur tendency towards conspiracies is not based on some kind of mass paranoid schizophrenia but knowledge of our history with the West,” citing an alleged “campaign to dispossess Palestinians in ’48” as one example of a conspiracy by “the West.”
There was no “campaign to dispossess Palestinians,” who in 1948 were still known as “Arabs”; nearly two decades would have to pass before their identity as “Palestinians” was invented. In 1948, the Jews were simply trying to survive a massive Arab onslaught that began on May 15 of that year, the day after they had declared their independent state of Israel. Beginning in late 1947, Arab radio stations broadcast into Mandatory Palestine the advice that the Arabs should leave, lest they be caught in the fighting that was certain to come, and then, once the Arab armies had emerged victorious, and all the Jews expelled or killed, the Arab inhabitants of “Palestine” could return to their homes, escorted by the triumphant Arab armies. These broadcasts continued throughout the war, and hundreds of thousands of Arabs heeded their advice and left, assuming they would soon be back to claim not just their own property, but also to appropriate the properties of Jews who had fled or been killed. Still other Arabs fled late in the war, not because they hoped to return with those Arab armies, but because they were now unhappily convinced that the Jews would win and they were afraid that the Jews would treat them the way the Arabs, had they won, would have treated the Jews.
Some Israelis no doubt were glad to see so many Palestinian Arabs leave. But that is a far cry from a “campaign” to harry them out of Israel. There was no “campaign” to “dispossess Palestinians in 1948” either by Israelis or by “the West.” The only ones who engaged in an effort to get Palestinian Arabs to leave the area were other Arabs, who wanted them out of the way of the battles to come. In fact, some Israelis, including the Mayor of Haifa, Shabatai Levy, implored the local Arabs not to leave, assuring them that they would be safe. The vast majority of Palestinian Arabs who left did so because of the Arab broadcasts urging them to do so.
Meanwhile, in a 2014 post condemning the Syrian army, she expressed her “desire for resistance to the Zio-Saudi project,” adding that she’d “like nothing more than to support a ‘resistance axis.’” Notably, the “axis of resistance” usually refers to Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian and other Iran-backed terrorist organizations that seek Israel’s destruction.
Qiblawi also accused the Israel Defense Forces of a “genocidal onslaught” during the First Lebanon War, criticized Starbucks for purportedly being an “openly zionist corporation,” and liked a comment that dubbed Israelis “racist criminals and liars.”
What “genocidal onslaught” by the IDF during the First Lebanon War is Qiblawi referring to? The Israelis engaged in no mass killings. Unbeknownst to them, the Phalange, their Christian Lebanese allies, did engage in mass killings in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. But the Israelis cannot be blamed for what they had no knowledge until it was over. At the time Lebanon was in the middle of a savage war going on between Muslims and Christians in Lebanon, that lasted from 1975 to 1990.
When the IDF entered Lebanon in 1982 to push the PLO out, in what the Israelis called Operation Peace For Galilee, it soon overcame the initial resistance in southern Lebanon and pushed northward all the way to Beirut, with the goal being to push the PLO out of Lebanon altogether. The plan was successful. Arafat and many members of the PLO fled Beirut, escaping by ship to Tunisia. In that First Lebanon War, 654 Israelis were killed, and about 1,200 members of the PLO. Does that sound like “genocide” to you?
In a 2011 blog post, she [Qiblawi] boasted about giving the finger to IDF soldiers guarding the ceasefire line with Lebanon.
There’s defiance for you. There’s true bravery. Something for Tamara Qiblawi to tell her grandchildren about.
Tamara Qiblawi is, of course, entitled to her personal views, even if they are uninformed. But as we previously outlined, producers with a political agenda can be selective with the information they present to the public, resulting in skewed media coverage of the Middle East conflict.
The article she helped write this week [in mid-April] came amid the unremitting onslaught of Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel and the West Bank that started in March 2022, and after last week’s Iran-linked rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.
It was Hamas terrorists who, from both Gaza and southern Lebanon, in early April hurled rockets into Israel; the Israelis then launched airstrikes in response to those rocket attacks. Hamas had acted first; Israel was only answering its fire with fire of its own. And that has characterized all of the exchanges of fire between Israel and the terror groups: they – Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Lions’ Den — strike first, and Israel responds. The sharp increase in Palestinian attacks from Gaza that began in March 2022 and have continued up to the present were answered by Israel with Operation Break the Wave, that began on March 31, 2022 and has been continuing ever since, as neither Hamas nor Palestinian Islamic Jihad have been silenced.
In the article [by Qiblawi] readers are led to believe that the Jewish state is to blame for the latest escalation. Studies indicate that nearly 50 percent of news consumers don’t read past the headline, yet only in the second paragraph does CNN reveal that the IAF raid in Lebanon was a direct response to “an attack the Israeli military blamed on Palestinian militants.”
In a written piece, Qiblawi tries to leave the impression that Israel has been the aggressor in the latest round of violence. She waits until the second paragraph of her article to note news that the IAF airstrikes in Lebanon did not provoke, but rather were a direct response to “an attack the Israeli military blamed on Palestinian militants.” The Israelis didn’t use the word “militants.” Qiblawi did; she avoids using the word “terrorist” except when talking about Israelis.
The piece furthermore presents Israel as the aggressor by misleadingly claiming that it was not violent Palestinian riots, but rather the subsequent “police raids on the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem,” that triggered the most recent uptick in hostilities.
The raids inside Al-Aqsa Mosque were undertaken only after several hundred Palestinians, armed to the teeth with rocks, bottles (for Molotov cocktails), and fireworks, who had been attacking Jewish visitors and Israeli police on the Temple Mount, managed to evade capture by the Israeli police by running into Al-Aqsa and barricading themselves inside. They intended to spend the night there, in order to be ready to attack Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount early the next morning, and to attack as well Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall far below. The Jordanians had already told the Jerusalem Waqf not to allow anyone to remain overnight inside Al-Aqsa, but that had no effect on the rioters. Soon after, Jordan withdrew the order, so as not to be seen as siding with the Israelis. Israeli police tried in vain to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis, but they could not convince the Palestinian rioters barricaded inside the mosque to come out. At that point, and most reluctantly, the Israeli police went into the mosque, and dodging volleys of rocks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks, collared the rioters one by one and dragged them outside the mosque. The violence began with the rioters throwing rocks at Jewish visitors to the Mount, not with the Israeli police who subsequently entered Al-Aqsa to pull the rioters out. Qiblawi ignores the violent attacks by the Palestinians on Jewish visitors before they ran to barricade themselves inside Al-Aqsa. She begins her version of events with those terrible Israeli police entering (“raiding”) Al-Aqsa Mosque for no apparent reason, and such an act of defilement — Jews “with their filthy feet” inside Al-Aqsa — is something no Palestinian, no Arab, no Muslim could possibly tolerate.
Will CNN move Tamara Qiblawi to another post, where she will not be covering Israel and the Palestinians? Or will it discharge her altogether, so that she can be promptly employed by Al Jazeera or Al-Manar or Asharq al-Awsat? Given her preposterous charge of “genocide” leveled at the Jewish state, her insistence that the killing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists must have been an attempt by “the West” to frame Muslims, her attempt to blame the IDF for its attacks, ignoring the fact that those attacks are only undertaken in response to the attacks first launched by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, given the malicious glee she expressed about a friend’s dream, in which Israel has been destroyed, its place names changed to honor such Palestinians as the arch-terrorists George Habash, late leader of the PFLP – given all this and much more that you can find online about the quite unnecessary Ms. Qiblawi, isn’t it time for CNN to deal with Tamara Qiblawi as it did with Marc Lamont Hill, and send her packing?