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April 16, 2007

The Silence I Deafening: Why Won’t Prominent Republicans Criticize Novak for Anti-Israel Writings?

Listed in: Israel, Other Foreign Policy, Fact Sheets, NJDC News, Press Releases

WASHINGTON - Today, the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) called on Republican party leaders to offer a public rebuke of right wing pundit Bob Novak's harsh anti-Israel stance and string of unbalanced columns.

In recent columns, Novak has suggested Israel's policies are "worse than apartheid," implied that Israel is oppressing Christians, claimed that terror organization Hamas wants peace, and chastised President Bush for failing to pressure the Israeli government. [Washington Post, 4/9/07, 4/16/07 and 4/5/07]

"This is a major example of Republican hypocrisy," said NJDC Executive Director Ira Forman. "Republicans jump up and down and paint Democrats with a broad brush whenever anyone on the left says anything remotely questionable about the Middle East. Yet, here is right wing pundit Bob Novak writing a series of awful columns and the silence from Republican leaders is deafening."

Novak has a long history of unbalanced reporting on Israel. In 2001 he referred to Hamas terrorists as "freedom fighters" and in April 2005, he wrote a column accusing the Israeli government of "walling off Christianity," a theme he has repeated in multiple column. Novak has also blamed Israel for the Iraq war. [Newsday, 12/7/01; 4/18/05; CNN 12/23/03]

"Why are Republicans afraid to stand-up to Bob Novak?" continued Forman.

A fact sheet on Novak's recent anti-Israel writings follows.

Democrats from former President Bill Clinton to Speaker Nancy Pelosi to NJDC have publicly distanced themselves from people like Jimmy Carter, who have taken an unreasonable position on Middle East politics. Republicans are apparently afraid to do the same and stand up to influential conservative Bob Novak.



April 16, 2007: Novak writes that Hamas is "calling for peace" in a column criticizing the Bush administration for refusing to meet with terrorist organization Hamas. "On April 2007, ending a seven-day visit to Israel, I finally got an interview I had sought for a year. I sat down in a Palestinian Authority office in Ramallah with a leader of Hamas, the extremist organization that won last year's elections. This leader pushed a two-state Israeli-Palestinian solution and deplored suicide bombers. But officials in Washington seem not to want to hear Hamas calling for peace." [Washington Post, 4/16/07]

April 9, 2007: Novak suggests that Israel's policies are "Worse than Apartheid." The Washington Post's headline for his piece read ""Worse than Apartheid?," and Novak wrote: "Jimmy Carter raised hackles by titling his book about the Palestinian question ‘Peace Not Apartheid.' But Palestinians allege this is worse than the former South African racial separation." [Washington Post, 4/9/07]

April 9, 2007: Novak implies that Christians are oppressed by Israelis. "Contact with the PFLP is not a requirement for being holed up by the Israel Defense Forces. Bethlehem University students cannot get to Jerusalem, a few minutes' drive away, unless they sneak in illegally .... Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey was at the university the same day I was .... Smith later was given a tour of Jerusalem to see with his own eyes that the separation barrier in most places is a big, ugly and intimidating wall, not merely a fence ... Smith, an active Catholic layman, was drawn here because of the rapid emigration of the Holy Land's Christian minority. They leave more quickly than Muslims because contacts on the outside make them more mobile. Peter Corlano, a Catholic member of the Bethlehem University faculty, told Smith and me: "We live the same life as Muslims. We are Palestinians. Concerned by the disappearance of Christians in the land of Christianity's birthplace, Smith could also become (as I did) concerned by the plight of all Palestinians. If so, he will find precious little company in Congress." [Washington Post, 4/9/07]

April 5, 2007: Novak blames Israel - not terror group Hamas - for breakdown in the peace process."The aphorism (originated by Israeli statesman Abba Eban) that Arabs "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity" now can be applied to Israel. Last week's Riyadh declaration indicated the willingness of the Arab world to consider a peaceful solution. Now, belief here among peace-seekers is that nothing will happen until a new president enters the Oval Office in 2009." [Washington Post, 4/5/07]

April 5, 2007: Novak wants Bush to apply pressure on Olmert without calling for reciprocal pressure on the Palestinians. "Nothing could be accomplished now without Bush pressuring Olmert." [Washington Post, 4/5/07]

April 18, 2005: Novak accuses Israel of "Walling off Christianity." Rep. Henry "Hyde's tone is markedly softer than the desperate voices of Christian clergy who find themselves cut off by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's security wall. Their fear and frustration stems from their inability to move anybody with power in the Bush administration and very few members of Congress." [, 4/18/05]

December 23, 2003: Novak blames Israel for the Iraq war. From a CNN interview:

WOLF BLITZER: Was the president sold a bill of goods on Iraq?

NOVAK: I think they got in a mindset where they really wanted change of government, and then it was a need to find reasons for a change of government.

BLITZER: Why was that?

NOVAK: I believe that they felt that this was the key to American foreign policy. I think it was -- they thought it was very important to our ally, Israel, to get rid of him, to [have] peace in the Middle East, and then you kind of think of reasons to get it done.

[CNN, 1/17/07]

November 2001: Novak refers to Hamas terrorists as "freedom fighters." From former NYC Mayor Ed Koch's column in Newsday: Two weekends ago, I watched 'Capital Gang' on CNN, featuring Robert Novak ... On his Nov. 24 show, Novak went ballistic in his ill will toward Israel. While discussing the Israeli assassination of Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, a senior military leader of Hamas on the West Bank directly responsible for dozens of Israeli civilian deaths, Novak denounced Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for ordering Hanoud's assassination. Novak's colleague, Margaret Carlson, rightly called Hanoud a terrorist, and Novak defended him as a freedom fighter. Carlson responded, "Bob, you're the only person who would call Hamas freedom fighters. ‘Oh, no,' Novak rejoined. ‘People all over the world do.'" [Ed Koch, Newsday, 12/7/01]