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Israel calls on CNN’s Amanpour to apologize for comparing Trump to Nazis

Anchor’s ‘false equivalence’ between a sitting US president and Kristallnacht pogrom belittles the immense tragedy of the Holocaust, Diaspora Affairs Minister Yankelevich charges

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Honoree Christiane Amanpour attends Variety's Power of Women: New York presented by Lifetime at Cipriani 42nd Street on Friday, April 5, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Honoree Christiane Amanpour attends Variety's Power of Women: New York presented by Lifetime at Cipriani 42nd Street on Friday, April 5, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Israeli officials are taking CNN to task for comments by the network’s prominent anchorwoman Christiane Amanpour comparing the actions of US President Donald Trump to Kristallnacht, the Nazi pogrom against Jews that took place across Germany in November 1938.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevich sent a letter to CNN president Jeffrey Zucker on Sunday urging that Amanpour issue an “immediate and public apology” for the “unacceptable comparison” she made Thursday.

“We find hereby the false equivalence made between the actions of a sitting US president and the atrocities of the Kristallnacht pogroms which were carried out by the Nazis eighty-two years ago belittling of the immense tragedy of the Holocaust,” she wrote.

Kristallnacht is widely recognized as a “central starting point of the Holocaust,” the minister went on, accusing Amanpour of minimizing the “unique importance of the Holocaust” by comparing it to the Trump administration.

“Distortion and minimization of the Holocaust are deplorable lies that only encourage the evil voices of anti-Semitism. Employing the memory of the Holocaust for cheap shock value and to further a political agenda is a deeply troubling and offensive spin of historic and moral truths with dangerous implications,” the letter said.

Blue and White party member Omer Yankelevich at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, May 14, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

As anti-Semitism continues to increase worldwide, Israel expects CNN to be “partners in the global effort to combat this dangerous illness, not to fan its flames,” she concluded.

An ‘affront to the memory of the Holocaust’

Also on Sunday, Israel’s consul-general to Atlanta, Anat Sultan-Dadon, wrote a letter to Richard Davis, CNN’s executive vice president of News Standards and Practices expressing “dismay” over Amanpour’s comparison.

“The use of the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht by Amanpour for the purpose of this comparison is an affront to the memory of the Holocaust, those who perished and those who suffered through these unimaginable atrocities,” she wrote. The consulate said it was “sincerely disappointed” by the way Amanpour chose to express herself and urged the anchorwoman and her employer to publish an apology.

CNN has not responded to a Times of Israel query about Amanpour’s remarks.

On Thursday, Amanpour, in the introduction to CNN’s flagship foreign affairs program, invoked the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht in discussing Trump’s dishonesty, calling the November 9, 1938, Nazi program an “attack on fact.”

”This week 82 years ago, Kristallnacht happened,” Amanpour said in the monologue. “It was the Nazis’ warning shot across the bow of our human civilization that led to genocide against a whole identity, and in that tower of burning books, it led to an attack on fact, knowledge, history and truth. After four years of a modern-day assault on those same values by Donald Trump, the Biden-Harris team pledges a return to norms, including the truth.”

Amanpour came under fire for the analogy on Twitter.

“This is @camanpour on @CNN comparing Trump’s tenure to Nazi Germany. How the hell is this sort of prejudice tolerated on mainstream media? Third rate rubbish,” wrote Ben Habib, a British former European Parliament member for the Brexit Party.

Schoolchildren and others brought to watch the burning of synagogue furnishings on Kristallnacht in Mosbach, Germany, November 1938 (courtesy)

“Despicable. @camanpour compares verbal fact-checking of a POTUS to a Nazi pogrom in which dozens of Jews were murdered,” the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council, a small group representing Haredi Jewish interests, wrote on Twitter.

Amanpour has not responded to the criticism.

Comparisons between contemporary politics and Nazi Germany have been considered beyond the pale by Jewish groups. An advertisement released in September by the Jewish Democratic Council of America that drew parallels between the rise of fascism and the Trump presidency was swiftly condemned by the Anti-Defamation League. But both former ADL direct Abraham Foxman and Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt said such comparisons are in fact apt.

JTA contributed to this report.

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