An American pro-Zionist organization has called for Fox News to dump one of its commentators, after he expressed support for the anti-Israel violence in the early 2000s commonly referred to as the “Second Intifada”.
Geraldo Rivera, one of American television’s most recognizable personalities stepped up his criticism of the Jewish state recently, while promoting his latest book The Geraldo Show, A Memoir.
A TV reporter since 1970, the 74-year-old Rivera has been a regular contributor and part-time host on Fox News since 2001.
Born to a Jewish mother, Rivera has frequently highlighted his Jewish heritage and past support for the State of Israel, yet become increasingly critical of the Jewish state since the Second Intifada.
In May 2002, Rivera accused Israel of ‘descending into evil’ while combating terrorism.
“The most insidious evil about terrorism ... is that sometimes, because it's so darned difficult to fight, you become something like you are fighting. You become someone who violates some of the basic concepts of your own fundamental democracy, your own – who you are.”
“When you use tanks and F-16's, and these sledgehammers against thickly populated civilian towns and cities, that's not fighting terrorism. That is inflicting terrorism.”
In 2014, Rivera claimed that Israel’s fight against Hamas in the Gaza Strip was “undermining Israel’s moral authority”.
Three years later, Rivera blasted Israel over the expansion of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, calling Israeli towns in the area “noxious”.
Rivera tweeted “You cannot say Israel is a true democracy when you turn a blind eye to the noxious expansion of settlements on Palestinian land.”
Going even farther in a series of interviews on March 30th, Rivera endorsed the Second Intifada, expressing regret that he had not openly backed the intifada in the early 2000s.
“I regret in 2002 backing down from backing the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel in the Second Intifada because I saw with my eyes…what an awful life they live under constant occupation and oppression,” Rivera told Fox News.
“They are an occupied people and I regret chickening out in 2002 and not staying on that story and not adding my voice as a Jew to those counselling a two-state solution.”
In an interview on The Dean Obeidallah Show, Rivera went into greater detail regarding his shift from a backer of the Jewish state to a critic who sympathized with the Palestinian Authority.
“I went through a personal metamorphosis. You’re very protective [as a Jew]. It’s almost an ‘Israel can do no wrong’ kind of approach to life…The Palestine Liberation Organization… [I viewed as] terrorists.”
“I toed the Israeli line for many, many years. There came a time where I had a revelation that I had been a propagandist rather than a journalist. I could cry talking about it. I played a very negative role in exacerbating stereotypes and I had my confrontation with the Zionist approach.”
Rivera later compared the Gaza Strip to a concentration camp, tweeting “Violence in Gaza grim reminder it’s world’s largest concentration camp – 2 million Palestinians jammed in narrow strip of lawn 25 miles long & 5 miles wide. Israel controls access-water & electricity – Population lives in despair – More violence inevitable. Restart PeaceProcess18.”
Following Rivera’s comments, the Zionist Organization of America issued a statement condemning Rivera, and calling on Fox News to fire the long-time contributor.
“The Second Intifada was a five-year wave of massacres of innocent Jews by Palestinian Arabs terrorists, who bombed pizza stores full of Jewish children, blew up Passover seders and weddings full of Jewish families, bombed clubs full of Israeli teenagers and young people, shot Jewish babies in their strollers, broke into homes and murdered families sitting down for Shabbat dinner, and shot Israeli drivers and passengers in passing cars, to name a few,” said ZOA President Morton Klein.
“But instead of mentioning that even a single Jew was murdered, Geraldo falsely claimed that it is Palestinian Arabs that are being killed, saying: ‘It is so easy to put them [Palestinian Arabs] out of sight, out of mind. And let them rot. And be killed. And keep this thing festering.’”
“Fox should not continue to employ a commentator who has stated his support for the wholesale mass murder and injury of thousands of Jews, and who turns truth upside down – blaming the victims and exonerating the terrorists.”