1958: Mike Wallace grills Abba Eban about Israel’s “territorial expansion”, belligerence, & threat to world peace

H/T Love of the Land

In 1958, nine years prior to the Six Day War, before Israel “occupied” one square inch of territory, American journalist Mike Wallace asks Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. questions about “Israeli territorial expansion”, quotes intellectuals who likened the plight of the Palestinian refugees from the ’48 War to Jews slaughtered by Nazis during the Holocaust, and legitimizes the narrative that Israel’s behavior threatens world peace.

Though Eban’s performance in responding to Wallace’s challenges was nothing short of masterful, it’s hard not to observe that the dynamic of a Western media parroting the rhetoric of Israel’s enemies predates the “occupation” and is not dependent on Israel’s actions as much as it is her mere existence.

11 replies »

  1. CAMERA: Mike Wallace’s Middle East Problem – May 25, 2006


    1) ‘The aggressive questioner in Wallace was not in evidence when he interviewed Yasir Arafat in 1989. As Near East Report observed, Wallace accepted Arafat’s responses largely without question. He asked if Arafat had renounced “military operations” inside Israel. Arafat’s response was, “Any people who are facing occupation or oppression have the right to use all methods.” Wallace did not probe with a follow-up question.

    He also didn’t question Arafat’s claim that he was going to punish the terrorist then thought responsible ( the leader of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command) for the Pan Am 103 bombing in which 270 people were killed. This even though Arafat wasn’t known for punishing terrorists. (Later the perpetrators were identified as Libyans.)

    The late David Bar-Illan, then editorials editor at The Jerusalem Post, suggested that Wallace “acted like a public-relations agent for Arafat” in the 1989 interview.

    In a 1987 story on Soviet Jews, including refuseniks, invited to immigrate to Israel, Wallace concluded that “one and a half million Soviets identified as Jews apparently live more or less satisfying lives.” Wallace acknowledged that Russia had a history of harboring antisemitism, but then said that anti-Jewish activities were against the law, without mentioning that the law was frequently broken — often by the government.’

    2) ‘In a 1988 segment on “60 Minutes” — 18 years before publication of the almost instantly discredited essay “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt — Wallace advanced essentially the same theme. His report seemed to be an attempt to discredit pro-Israel activists in the United States — especially the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — and undermine U.S. support for Israeli aid. Wallace, in Bar-Illan’s words, “portrayed the ‘Jewish lobby’ as an insidious, all-powerful, multi-headed Washington Svengali manipulating the U.S. Congress and administration.”

    Wallace said a CBS poll found that 72 percent of Americans thought the United States should not give Israel “more aid that it gives any other country.” That wording was loaded, but a poll taken by the Los Angeles Times close to the airing of Wallace’s report found that 55 percent of Americans favored the present level of U.S. aid to Israel or an increase.’


    • so it wasnt fox news who started the whole “im not asking this question, your critics are”

      lots of loaded questions in this interview

      50 years of the exact same bs

      only wish eban had been straight with wallace about the “refugee” issue

      as they all…to a man, woman and child, wished to see the destruction of the state of israel…israel had and has no requirement to resettle them…there is no right of return for an enemy

      the economy questions are rather funny, in regards to a broke pa wanting statehood declared by the un

      i also enjoyed mike’s “answer me this while standing on one foot” question…if a jew is less of a jew if he doesnt support israel…wonderfully loaded question…handled with great aplomb by the ambassador

      but 50 years later, i can simply say….yes…as the only time those anti israel jews identify themselves as being jewish, is when they are demonizing israel

      • That was spine-tingling. Thank you. It seemed as if Wallace was asking the ‘good Jew’ question in order to assuage his own anti-Israel guilt.

        • I’m Jewish [kind of], BUT…

          “I’m Jewish by heritage and in a certain way by feeling, but not a particularly religious or pious Jew. My religion is Golden Rule. That’s what I try to live by. But, having said that, I met a Palestinian by the name of Fayez Said who was, I guess, born and brought up in Lebanon, who let the scales fall from my eyes about the state of the Palestinians.” — Mike Wallace


  2. Hmmm …… I thought that the job of a good interviewer is to ask difficult questions; the mark of a good politician is his ability to answer them clearly and forcefully. No doubt Eban made a better impression and sounded more convincing because the questions were difficult rather than fawning.

    – Please don’t respond about the history of Wallace’s anti-Israel attitude – I am very aware of it.
    – The interview was indeed 9 years before the 6-day war but only about a year after the withdrawal from Sinai following the Sinai campaign.

    • “Please don’t respond about the history of Wallace’s anti-Israel attitude”

      Yeah, that would make almost a complete nonsense of your first paragraph.

      That any American Jew would attack Israel in that way is the height of hypocrisy. The US is a nation built on land theft and genocide. An American Jew has far less moral right to his home and his liberty than an Israeli Jew.

    • Hi there MTC.

      You realize this whole piece from 1958 entirely invalidates your argument that everything was swell until Israel starting constructing those “West Bank settlements,” right? Not just with respect to the Arabs’ attitude toward Israel, but also the non-Arabs.

  3. To those who insist on engaging in personal attacks against other posters on these threads, please know your comments will continue to be deleted, and you will risk being sent into pre-mod. PLEASE comment on the issues.