Israeli PM Fires Back at ‘Hostile’ CNN Host: We Must ‘Act Tough’ Against Violence

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett attends a cabinet meeting at the Prime minister's o

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour was accused of “hostility” after a tense back-and-forth with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in which the anchor criticized the Jewish State’s response to recent violent Palestinian riots against Israeli police and Jewish worshippers, with the Israeli leader replying: “When faced with violence you have to act tough.”

During an interview with Bennett on Wednesday, CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour appeared “hostile” toward the Israeli premiere, inquiring as to why he allowed the military to create “tension” by quelling violent riots that have taken place in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque situated on the Temple Mount in the Israeli capital of Jerusalem.  

“When the world sees, and when Palestinians see, and when your region sees Israeli soldiers inside that mosque, it creates a lot of tension, a lot of unease,” she said before asking: “Why do you allow Israeli soldiers to go into that mosque?”

The Israeli prime minister hit back against the charge that Israel was responsible for the “unease” by accusing Amanpour of presenting a misleading narrative.

“Yeah, well, Christiane, there you go again starting the story in the middle,” he said. “But the actual fact is that last Friday at about five in the morning, roughly 300 Palestinian rioters entered [the] Temple Mount mosque with explosives [and] with stones.” 

“They began desecrating their own mosque; burning, throwing stones and preventing about 80,000 decent Muslims from going to pray,” he added. 

Bennett went on to explain his duty as the country’s leader, as well as the need to “act tough” in the face of violence.

Israeli police is deployed in the Old City of Jerusalem, Sunday, April 17, 2022. Israeli police clashed with Palestinians outside Al-Aqsa Mosque after police cleared Palestinians from the sprawling compound to facilitate the routine visit of Jews to the holy site and accused Palestinians of stockpiling stones in anticipation of violence. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Israeli police are deployed in the Old City of Jerusalem, Sunday, April 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

“My responsibility as Prime Minister of Israel is to provide freedom of prayer to everyone in Jerusalem, including Muslims, which is why I had to send in policemen to remove the rioters,” he said. “And it worked.”

“Indeed, 80,000 Muslims went on later to pray peacefully,” he added. “So, you know, when faced with violence you have to act tough.”

In response, many took to social media to lambaste Amanpour for her seeming defense of violent rioters and condemnation of the responding police forces.

“Amanpour is a shill for the Islamic Republic,” wrote Bryan Leib, the executive director of Iranian Americans for Liberty. “Not surprised in the least that she was hostile towards Israel’s PM.”

“Amanpour’s hostility, smugness and arrogance towards #Israel is just relentless,” wrote international human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky. “But PM @naftalibennett did great job here pushing back on the situation in #Jerusalem and Temple Mt.” 

Amanpour is “the Bella Hadid of journalism,” wrote former Miss Iraq Sarah Idan. 

“Telling HALF the story is a LIE,” she added. “@naftalibennett made her look stupid providing facts.”

“Amanpour is not a real journalist! If you listen to her you can tell she’s on a mission,” tweeted The Jewish Voice.

“Self defense against terrorism isn’t engaging in a cycle,” wrote conservative commentator Katie Pavlich. “Further, when will you ask Abbas why Hamas is allowed to desecrate Al Aqsa mosque?”

Responding to the interview, Bennett reiterated his commitment to “fight against the lies about Israel.” 

The tense discussion came as ongoing clashes between Israeli forces and violent Palestinian rioters have erupted on the Temple Mount over the last week, with the overlapping of Easter, Ramadan and Passover, following visits of Jews to the site and the rioters’ attempts to prevent them from doing so.

In one incident, a group of Jewish worshippers in the Old City of Jerusalem was filmed as they were violently attacked by several Palestinians.

The mount is Judaism’s holiest site and Islam’s third holiest. It is administered by the Jordanian Islamic Waqf, which prohibits Jewish and Christian prayer.

Jews are currently barred from entering until the end of Ramadan at the start of next month.

On Wednesday, Israeli police were attacked with rocks and firebombs hurled from within the mosque, with some igniting fires within the mosque. Several Palestinian were arrested as a result.

“The violence endangers worshipers attempting to enter the mosque, and impeded police efforts to ensure freedom of worship at the site,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said. “The Molotov Cocktails set fire to a mat and a window causing fires that luckily were extinguished before greater damage was done.”

Amanpour is the Chief International Anchor for CNN and host of CNN International’s nightly interview program Amanpour, which has aired for nearly a decade.

In 2020, Amanpour likened former President Donald Trump’s tenure to Nazi Germany on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the 1938 pogrom that is often regarded as the starting date for the Holocaust. She subsequently issued an apology over the matter.

She also suggested that “lock her up” chants were a form of hate speech that the FBI could have “shut down.”

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.