David Frost’s interviews with Benny Morris & Suhu Arafat: A stark contrast in political sympathy


David Frost’s seven minute interview with Israeli historian Benny Morris – on July 3rd, concerning the prospects for two-state solution – is quite revealing as regards the sclerotic mindset of many when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Briefly, Frost was a daytime TV game-show host early in his career but is best known for his years conducting serious interviews with various political figures – the most notable being Richard Nixon in 1977.  Since 2006, he has been working for AlJazeera, and is also said to be among the wealthiest journalists in the UK, worth up to £200 million.

In a few brief questions posed to Morris, Frost reveals a hardened and fixed position about Israeli culpability which simply cannot  wrap its mind around the fact that Palestinian Arab malevolence towards Israel – and a refusal to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state –  represents a profound obstacle to achieving genuine peace.

While watching the interview, you will observe Frost dismiss (as a minor “academic detail”) Morris’ concern that PA leaders (and the broader Arab world) have never recognized the legitimacy of a Jewish state in the region.  You will also see the veteran  British journalist suggest that Palestinian/Arab intransigence and rejectionism pale in comparison to the real problem preventing peace – the settlements. 

While it would have been helpful had Morris raised the issues of Palestinian antisemitism and the glorification of terrorism, my guess is that Frost would not have been moved by even the most egregious examples of these phenomena. 

Frost’s March 26, 2012, interview with Suha Arafat and the producers of a documentary about Yasser Arafat’s life, titled “The Price of Kings“, presents quite a contrast. During the interview, Suha – who once publicly accused Israel of  contaminating Palestinian cities with poison gas – accused the Mossad of spreading false rumors of about her and characterized Yasser Arafat as a “great” selfless, tolerant man, full of “humanity”, who championed peace and co-existence.

This narrative of the terrorist leader – similarly parroted by the film makers – went unchallenged by Frost, who failed to ask one difficult question of Mrs. Arafat and made no attempt to hide his affection for her. (You can see the interview here.)

The contrast in Frosts’s tone when interviewing Morris and Arafat is a perfect illustration of the British media elite’s institutional bias when covering the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – representing a political dogma impervious to facts challenging the meme that Jewish homes in the disputed territories represent a far greater threat to peace than terrorism and incitement. 

60 comments on “David Frost’s interviews with Benny Morris & Suhu Arafat: A stark contrast in political sympathy

  1. “Palestinian Arab malevolence towards Israel.”

    This is the kind of stupid sentence that undermines CIF Watch’s credibility.

    • Please provide an example of Arab benevolence towards Israel, or even Jews in general.

    • Nat,
      I’m not sure why this is a stupid statement. There have been multiple wars, boycotting movements, suicide bombings, rocket attacks, hijacking of airliners, massacres of athletes, a Hamas charter that calls for the genocide of Jews, and vicious murder of Israeli children. What would it take to constitute malevolence in your book?

      Stan

  2. “…characterized Yasser Arafat as a “great” selfless, tolerant man, full of “humanity”, who championed peace and co-existence.”

    Arafat was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

    • So is Barack Obama.

      Please provide an example of what Obama (or Arafat) has done to promote peace.

      • Arafat recognized the existence of Israel as a state, which no Palestinian leader had done before him.

        • Yes, he was great for peace when speaking English to Western audiences. When he was speaking Arabic to other Muslims and Arabs, hmm, not so much. Hamas does the same thing (mainly by making “peace offers” when they talk to Western media outlets that they later disavow when talking to Press RV or Al Manar) but by some miracle even some (not all) pro-Palestinian acolytes recognize they’re doing this. They gave ol’ Y.A. a pass for that.

        • No he did not!

          He promised to remove parts of the PLO charter (The Palestinian National Charter) calling for the destruction of Israel – those parts are still there, and more, for example:

          http://www.ijs.org.au/Palestinian-National-Convenant/default.aspx

          This is the version of the Covenant published officially in English by the PLO in December 1969, and based on the text adopted in 1964, and revised in 1968.

          In his letter of September 9, 1993 to Prime Minister Rabin, Yasser Arafat stated that those articles which deny Israel’s right to exist or are inconsistent with the PLO’s new commitments to Israel following their mutual recognition would no longer be valid. A formal resolution to that effect was made by the Palestinian National Council in 1998, and the Israeli government announced that it was satisfied with that resolution. However no amended version of the Covenant has been adopted or published.

          [...]

          Article 19:
          The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time, because they were contrary to the will of the Palestinian people and to their natural right in their homeland, and inconsistent with the principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations; particularly the right to self-determination.

          Article 20:
          The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.

          Article 21:
          The Arab Palestinian people, expressing themselves by the armed Palestinian revolution, reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine and reject all proposals aiming at the liquidation of the Palestinian problem, or its internationalization.

          Article 22:
          Zionism is a political movement organically associated with international imperialism and antagonistic to all action for liberation and to progressive movements in the world. It is racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist, and colonial in its aims, and fascist in its methods. Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement, and geographical base for world imperialism placed strategically in the midst of the Arab homeland to combat the hopes of the Arab nation for liberation, unity, and progress. Israel is a constant source of threat vis-a-vis peace in the Middle East and the whole world. Since the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence and will contribute to the establishment of peace in the Middle East, the Palestinian people look for the support of all the progressive and peaceful forces and urge them all, irrespective of their affiliations and beliefs, to offer the Palestinian people all aid and support in their just struggle for the liberation of their homeland.

          Article 23:
          The demand of security and peace, as well as the demand of right and justice, require all states to consider Zionism an illegitimate movement, to outlaw its existence, and to ban its operations, in order that friendly relations among peoples may be preserved, and the loyalty of citizens to their respective homelands safeguarded.

          Please provide a source that shows that Arafat “recognized the existence of Israel as a state”.

        • Nat, how naive you are! He SAID that he did, but behaved very much at variance with what he said, in the true fashion of such a one.

          There is a well-known and highly regarded personality profile of Arafat which makes a nonsense of the argument you think you have made. It says, among other things that Arafat lied routinely:

          “…..One gets the impression that Arafat is not concerned with telling the truth (to say the least) and has no emotional difficulty with that; his prevarication is not accompanied by any external signs that could give him away. For example, in a meeting with General Moshe Yaalon on October 7, 1995, Arafat was presented with a list of 35 wanted men. When Yaalon reached Muhammad Deif, the number-one wanted man at that time, Arafat put on an innocent face, turned to Muhammad Dachlan, and asked him, “Muhammad Esh?” (Muhammad who?) Intelligence information in the Yaalon’s hands showed that this same Deif had been in Arafat’s office at a personal meeting only three days prior. From some of his utterances, one gets the impression that he assumes that everyone lies….

          “..From this behavioral pattern, Arafat emerges as utterly unreliable, and it is impossible to rely on his word. His unreliability expresses itself in diverse ways: He does not object to lies, uses half-truths and exaggerations, speaks in double-talk, and conveys double messages. As a result, on the one hand, it is very hard to predict his behavior, since it comes from a man whose manner of thought and behavior is completely different from that recognized and accepted in politics and business in the Western world, and, on the other hand, it is difficult to know what his intentions truly are….”

          (Source: http://www.ict.org.il/ResearchPublications/tabid/64/Articlsid/434/currentpage/1/Default.aspx#Authenticity:_Dramatic_ability)

          As Yohoho says, that such a one was awarded the Nobel peace prize debases the award.
          You can find the whole profile at

    • Shimon Peres was also a recipient of the Nobel, but that didn’t stop the anti-Israel crowd from turning out to paint him as a warmonger when he visited my hometown recently.

      Are they right, and CIFWatch wrong, or they wrong, and CIFWatch wrong, or does everyone who gets the Nobel Peace Prize actually have to be considered a good person without regard to other actions?

      • Shimon Peres must cry bitterly when he sees how settlers and hard right wingers trying to hijack the Jewish state with their backwards ideology that betrays every Jewish value.

    • Now, you have said that before, Nat. And it was as meaningless then as an argument in support of Arafat as it is now.

      All it means, given the (lack of) stature of the Arafat person is that awarding it to a cardholding terrorist debased its value.

  3. David Frost was not a game show host early in his career

    His fame began with satirical TV shows ‘That Was The Week Thas Was’, The Frost Report’ et al

    He then moved to interviewing with the Frost Programme wher ehe built up a reputation for serious interviews

    He interviewed Nixon, yes but not for ‘Through the Keyhole’

    In latter years his reputation declined somewhat and he moved to entertainment which is where Through the Keyhole comes in. He still continued to be involved in News review type shows

    Everything else you write is correct but the effect is spoilt by misrepresenting Frost’s career.

  4. Frost came across as almost senile. However, as good a writer as Benny Morris is, he is equally as bad in interviews; Unfortunate, as his standing in academia would otherwise make him a terrific spokesperson.

    Stan

  5. David Frost is a man. A rich old man who rests on his laurels and doesn’t need to care what other people think. He fancies Suha Arafat. He doesn’t fancy Benny Morris. That’s all.

  6. David Frost was a brilliant TV interviewer forty years ago, but as realzionist says above, it’s (high) time he retired. He’s been on Al Jazeera for a long time and any media figure working for them who was friendly to Israel or sympathetic to Jews in general would swiftly be shown the parking lot.
    You could say the same about British Channel 4 TV news, the BBC and of course the Guardian and the Independent.

  7. I thought Benny Morris did a fairly good job countering Frost’s loaded and aggressive questions. He answered to the point, countering whatever premises Frost was advancing with a clear delineation of Israel’s just fears and reservations. Frost obviously has swallowed the Arab narrative in its entirety but then it is an Arab network, he is paid handsomely for putting across an Arab perspective and there is absolutely no incentive or inclination on his part to fiddle with such a nice arrangement. For him I think it is something to do without being obliged to exercise his critical muscles too strenuously while being feted and rewarded as if he was during his golden years. What does he care for the truth? He seems not so much convinced of what he was saying as parroting a party line. A sad aftermath, really, to an otherwise brilliant career.

  8. One thing that cases like this super-spotlight is how very, very cheap sympathy from the Left tends to be. People like David Frost do favor the Palestinians but do so in a way that accrues no real benefit to their pet cause; it’s the kind of cheerleading that keeps the war going and lets them cluck their tongues and write editorials in CiF. Or they think that critical and reprisal actions against Israel are going to end the conflict on the Palestinians’ terms, which is insane.

  9. Dear Sir: Frost may be bias. You may disagree with Morris. But please do not try to call Palestinians (or Arabs in general) anti-Semetic. I am sure are already aware Arabs are Semtic. And, more importantly, as Amnon Rubenstein points out, anti-Semitism is uniquely Christian.
    We do not see pograms in Hindu culture – as we have in Poland, Russia or France. We do not see mass killings and torture of Jews in Sino culture, as happened in the Spanish Inquisition. And we certainly do not see the mass murder of Jews by the millions in Arab culture as occurred in Germany.
    Even today’s racism in the Arab world against Jews is – I believe – a political issue that stems from the establishment of Israel in 1948. A very different beast from anti-Semitism which stems from the belief (rightly or wrongly – that is a whole other issue) that the Jews killed Christ.
    I think for the sake of accuracy and, moreover, out of respect for the millions of Jews who suffered throught Christendom, a new term should be coined for the current attitude held by Arabs regarding Jews. Maybe anti-Zionist would be more accurate?

    • OK, try Jew haters. Anyone who actually has a decent education about 19th century European history knows that antisemitism was a neologism for Jew hatred.

    • Tamer – clearly not all Palestinians or Arabs hate Jews. But to say that “racism in the Arab world against Jews is a political issue that stems from the establishment of Israel in 1948″ is simply to ignore the truth.

      There are plenty of examples of Arab Jew hatred from long before 1948 – the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem aligning with the Nazis and the Hebron massacre in 1922 immediately spring to mind, and in any event, much of the anti-Jewish propaganda seen in Arab culture and media is NOT specific to Israel, it extends to Jews wherever they may be in the World and is indistinguishable from the antisemitism that has existed for thousands of years in the Christian and pre-Christian world.

      Finally, everyone around the world recognises the term antisemitism to mean hatred of Jews, whatever the origins of the word “semite”.

      • Finally, everyone around the world recognises the term antisemitism to mean hatred of Jews

        Exactly so why do people like Adam keep telling us it means something else ?

      • Grooner – I’d like to first make it clear I do not want to imply in any way that the Palestinians or Arabs at large do not have a prejudice against Jews. But there is a difference between traditional anti-Semitism seen throughout the history of Christendom and the non-Christian world.
        Also, I would argue that the Hebron massacre you mention is pre1948 as you rightly state. However, it post Balfour and Sykes-Picot – that is to say the Zionist immigration issue had already begun.
        To be quite frank – I find the dialogue on the entire subject of Israel-Palestine has degenerated to the level of football fans. Each side defends their team blindly with no regard for facts let alone humanity. It’s like watching the democrats and republicans in the US.
        What I cannot seem to find is a blunt honest discussion. Mersheim – in my opinion – had no grasp of international relations when he made his claim that Israel no longer held any strategic importance to the US. Dershowitz – to me – is the Zionist Ann Coulter.
        The bottom line is Israel IS occupying land. Israel IS an apartheid state. You can split hairs, use words to twist or contort reality. But the demographics speak for themselves.

        • Israel is an “apartheid” state? What are you talking about?
          Methinks you need to refresh your definition of “apartheid”; a dictionary would be a good start.

        • “You can split hairs, use words to twist or contort reality. ”
          And that’s exactly what is done in order to portray the only open, pluralistic democratic society in the region as an”apartheid” state while it’s actually surrounded by states that do practice forms of apartheid.
          It’s not just that these countries have a worse human rights record. They have an immeasurably worse record.

        • Israel is not an apartheid state. You blew it with that stupid statement and showed that your pretence of even handedness is just that.

          Israel is occupying land taken in wars she did not want or start. There would be no need for her to do that if her Palestinian neighbours and the Arab others who crank up their hatred would sue for a lasting peace.

          You can carry on arguing black is white and vice versa until you are out of breath but quite frankly you are talking rubbish.

    • Antisemitism is a term first coined by the notorious German Wilhelm Marr. As such, it refers strictly to the hatred of Jews, and has nothing to do with Arabs.
      Secondly, would the author kindly enlighten us, what he thinks of the Farhud, ‘Abd al-Mu’min, the Quran’ic verses casting Jews, the Hadith, calling for the extermination of the Jews for sake of the “Judgement day”?
      All of these events precede the founding of Israel.
      What about the constant employment, and elevation of the “Protocols” in Arab literature?

    • Mr Ibrahim
      Please refer to your Hadith
      And the rock or stone will say
      ‘oh Muslim , oh son of Abdullah
      There is a Jew behind me
      Come kill him
      Except the the Garkiya tree which is a tree of the Jew
      Bukhari and Muslim
      This Hadith is quoted in full as one of the articles contained in the Hamas Covenant .

      • I will suggest you check out the name of the translator you are reading from. I noted at Koran in translation that I read which translates the opening verse “Al Fatha” as taking the words ‘those who have gone astray’ (‘al daleen’ in Arabic) as simply “Christians”. The same translator in the same verse takes “those who have incurred your wrath” (al maghdoub 3alayhoum – in Arabic) as ‘the Jews”.
        However, a translation given to me by a professor at St Andrews was much more neutral. There is a huge amount of propaganda coming out the Saudi-based Wahabi sect that is full of absurdities like these that even an amateur like me can spot. These groups, as you can imagine, have the resources to flood the scene With their interpretation.
        While it makes me sick to see their presence grow – what’s even more disturbing is that they’re not even the most radical sect.

    • There is some – some – truth in what you say, but I cannot possibly agree with the following:

      a new term should be coined for the current attitude held by Arabs regarding Jews. Maybe anti-Zionist would be more accurate?

      Just one example: the innocent Jews murdered in the infamous bomb attack in Buenos Aires in the 1990s. Were they all Zionists?

      Then there are the many Jewish children murdered in various attacks in Israel itself over the years, of course. Were they “Zionists”?

      What is your definition of “Zionist” anyway?

    • Very poor argument and hackneyed too Tamer Ibrahim.

      Muslim Arabs, y’know, the sort who refuse to recognise Israel’s right to exist, hate Jews. We have ample evidence that this is the case. They may say that they hate Zionism or Israel but in reality they do not distinguish.

      It may be that Muslim Arab Jew-hatred is of a different order to what you call Christian anti-semitism, but such antisemitism is not longer routinely supported by Christian churches, – indeed many of them decry it openly – whereas Arab Muslims, who are taught to emulate their prophet as the perfect specimen of mankind, hate Jews as he did because they would not accept his superiority to their prophets, and their religious leaders encourage this.

      It may be true that some of Arab hatred of the Jew is political, but in order to convince me that it is only that, you would have to provide me with proof that what is written in the koran has nothing to do with the antics of Hamas or the PA or the filth they teach to their children in their schools using the koran as justification.

      And the “anti-Zionist not antisemitic” argument has worn very thin now, given that the Islamist terrorists in the Middle East and elsewhere don’t distinguish between “Jew”, “Zionist”, or “Israeli” and hate them all equally.

      And stop trying to deflect onto Christianity the heinous treatment of Jews in Arab countries, for example, or by Muslims down the ages.

  10. Nat says, Arafat recognized the existence of Israel as a state, which no Palestinian leader had done before him.

    Arafat never renounced terrorism.
    He renounced tourism.
    Read on, to understand.

    http://sigcarlfred.blogspot.com/2004_12_01_sigcarlfred_archive.html

    Munib Al-Masri remembers sitting with Arafat one night in 1988 as the
    Palestinian leader negotiated a formula that would allow the United States to
    recognize the PLO. “They gave him the formula, and he said it in a speech in
    Geneva, but he put in extra words, so no one could figure out what he was
    saying,” al-Masri remembers. “The Americans said, ‘No way.’ So I stayed up all
    night with him and Dick Murphy, the assistant secretary of state, to work out
    what he must say. The formula was ‘We totally and absolutely renounce all forms
    of terrorism.’ So they called a press conference, and he said everything right,
    except instead of ‘terrorism’ he said, ‘We announce tourism! We announce all
    forms of tourism!'”

  11. Nat, http://worldnetdaily.com/news/printer-friendly.asp?ARTICLE_ID=40455
    Documents show Arafat paid for disco bombing
    September 15, 2004 Author: Aaron Klein

    Yasser Arafat paid $2,000 to the family of a Palestinian suicide bomber who
    attacked the beach front Dolphinarium dance club in Tel Aviv in 2001 and then sent the terrorists father a letter in which he praised his sons murderous act, according to documents captured in a recent Israeli operation that were released yesterday.

  12. Yasser Arafat, January 30, 1996, (Speech) “The Impending Total Collapse of Israel,” Stockholm, Sweden (1,2)

    We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem . . .
    You understand that we plan to eliminate the state of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian State . . . I have no use for Jews; they are and remain Jews. We now need all the help we can get from you in our battle for a united Palestine under total Arab-Muslim domination!”

  13. Nat, On the same day in 1993 on which Yasser Arafat signed the Declaration of Principles on the White House lawn, he spoke the following words on Jordan TV: “Since we cannot defeat Israel in war we will do this in stages. We take any and every territory that we can of Palestine, and establish a sovereignty there, and we use it as a springboard to take more. When the time comes, we can get the Arab nations to join us for the final blow against Israel.

  14. http://www.jewishworldreview.com/jeff/jacoby011003.asp

    After the Tel Aviv massacre on January 12th 2003, where 2 Palestinian homicide bombers massacred 23 Israeli civilians in Tel Aviv. The PLO web site posted a statement — celebrating the attacks: “With faith in the calling of holy jihad,” it said, “two suicide attackers . . . succeeded this evening to infiltrate the Zionist roadblocks and to enter the heart of Tel Aviv and carried out two consecutive suicide attacks… These suicide attacks caused a large number of fatalities and casualties in the center of the Zionist occupation of our land. We swear before our people that additional suicide operations will occur.” That is a view with which much of Arab opinion concurs. ArabicNews.com, for example, datelined its story on the Tel Aviv attack “Palestine-Israel,” and reported that the bombings had killed “23 Israeli settlers.”

  15. How does Nat support these Islamo Nazis?

    http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-singer111902.asp

    Following the murderous terrorist attack on Kibbutz Metzer in 2002, the PLO cold-bloodedly stated on its official website, “We will continue to strike in any place, targeting their children as well.” Five innocent Israelis, including a mother and her two little boys, were butchered in that attack, all of them, Fatah said, “Zionist colonizers” killed in a “qualitative operation in the settlement of Metzer.”

    Here’s how the official Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida headlined its coverage: “Five Israelis killed in an attack on the settlement Metzer.” The report continued, “A Palestinian infiltrated the settlement Metzer and opened fire on the settlers.” It is not well known that the Palestinian press frequently refers to towns in Israel, such as Holon and Kiryat Shmona, as “settlements.” Besides implying that all of Israel is an illegitimate colonial outpost, such references clearly are brought to justify the killings and distinguish them from terrorism.

  16. Suha Arafat loves palestine and the palestinians so much that she tries to get as far away from palestine and the palestinians as she can.Why wasn’t she asked why did she choose to live in the South of France instead of a bit closer to her beloved Arafat…..An opportunistic gold digger,with tatty blonde hair…….

    • Benorr, why would Palestinians not have the right to live in the south of France? Many Jews live in the south of France, will you call them ‘opportunistic gold diggers” too?

      • No-one is denying her the right to live in the south of France; unlike the PA about Jews, a person who sold her a house would not be sentenced to death for doing so.

        She has no right to bleat about the “poor Palestinians”, however, when (a) she did very well out of their suffering and (b) she doesn’t show just enough solidarity with them by living there.

  17. Arutz Sheva7……..Jordan:MP Pulls Gun On Activist during TV debate.

    This is something that might interest Sheerdumbwood…….
    (Like hell it would)………..

  18. Briefly, Frost was a daytime TV game-show host early in his career but is best known for his years conducting serious interviews with various political figures – the most notable being Richard Nixon in 1977.

    He did also rather famously co-commentate the Rumble in the Jungle. Plus he presented the groundbreaking Through the Keyhole series starring the transatlantic-accented Lloyd Grossman ;-)

  19. putting Frost prostituting himself into perspective here. Frost like many other ‘journalists’ gladly switched to Al Jazzy for amongst other things the money. I find it adorable that lefty journalist are working for a tv station which is privately owned by a reigning Muslim monarch with a clear political agenda. their salaries are paid with money which is generated through oil, which they hate, and they work in a highly politicized environment/culture which thinks democracy is alien to Islam. hypocrisy does not begin to describe what is going on here.

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