Open Letter to CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield regarding her reference to Jewish terror attacks

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Dear Ashleigh,

It is shocking to me that I need to write a letter like this to someone who is supposed to be an intelligent journalist.  The reason I am even bothering is twofold.  First of all you are quite well known and subsequently with your relatively significant exposure people might actually listen to you.  Secondly, and maybe even more importantly, your comments are so indicative of a larger problem that I feel it necessary to use what you said as a tool to help inform the ignorant.

In what can only be described as so ridiculous it is borderline satirical, you compared Islamic Terrorism of today to Jewish terror attacks of the 1980s.  I could ask you just one question and my point might already be made.  How many Americans were taken by what you call Jewish terrorism?   If my research is correct, the JDL (Jewish Defense League) is responsible for the death of 7 people on U.S. soil between 1968 and 1985.  These 7 people were connected primarily to Soviet and Arab targets.  How many of these victims were American?  The answer is one.  Ironically the one American death was a Jewish woman named Iris Kones and her death contributed to turning many Jews against the JDL.   The rest were mostly citizens of the Soviet Union and Arab nations working in the various locations targeted in the attacks.  Since 1985 the JDL has not killed one person on American soil.  It is now considered a former terrorist organization, and offshoots of the group are banned in the State of Israel.  If you notice Ashleigh, nowhere in this letter am I making excuses for the violent actions of the JDL.  The right or wrong in what they have done is honestly irrelevant in this discussion and not something I wish to get into with you, but the cold hard facts alone show why your comparison is so unwarranted.

The other thing I know is that twice as many people were killed by 2 Islamic terrorists in San Bernardino in one day than were killed in 17 years by the JDL.  These 14 were killed for being American.  They were killed by people looking to change our entire way of life, and they were killed by people working to fulfill the desires of a terrorist organization already responsible for the murder of ten of thousands and maybe even hundreds of thousands of people.  Although founded by an Orthodox Rabbi and based partially in the belief of Israel’s biblical borders, the JDL never was an organization, even at its most violent, that looked to change the religion of others.  It never targeted people for worshiping in different ways, and its justification for violent attacks was preserving safety for Jews around the world and to free Jews from oppression, particularly in the Soviet Union, a nation at odds with the United States at the very same time.  Finally what might be most important to acknowledge is that the JDL never sought the destruction of the United States and other civilized countries.  It never pursued global domination and it never once threatened the overall population of any country.  It just wanted Jews to live in safety and freedom and used violence to further its cause.  I am not endorsing the violence, but to compare it to today’s Islamic extremism and the terrorist threat existing in America is dangerously ignorant.

I do not endorse Donald Trump’s plan to ban all Muslims from entering the country and understand that you said what you did in an attempt to underscore your criticism of his statement, but here is why it was so wrong.  In comparing the actions of a handful of Jews over 30 years ago to today’s Islamic terrorists, you actually dilute the seriousness of the threat the world is faced with today.  The actions of individuals targeting a specific group for a specific purpose, regardless of how right or wrong they might be, is not on par with a worldwide threat targeting innocent people all over the globe for the purpose of changing them over to their way of thinking. To make the comparison is not just unwise, it is irresponsible.  And indirectly guess what else it does?  The very same thing you were trying not to do. It helps Donald Trump.  It leads people to  believe that some in the media don’t understand the danger that exists and as a result Trump has the only real solutions to the problem.

Tell it like it truly is Ashleigh and maybe instead of hurting the overall situation you will actually help it.  Unfortunately all this did was potentially embolden the wrong people, and do what you as a reporter should never want to do.  It made you the story.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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