MSNBC has admitted that highly controversial graphics aired on the network that depicted Israel as stealing land from the Palestinians were "factually wrong" and that the broadcast would be corrected on Monday, according to a network spokesperson.
The cable news network has been fighting off criticism after it aired the graphics and analysis, including a map linked to conspiracy groups branded as anti-Semitic, that portrayed Israel as existing on territory expropriated from Palestine.
The graphics garnered criticism from pro-Israel advocates and has now prompted the network to acknowledge that the graphics were highly misleading.
"In an attempt to shed light on the geographic context of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, we aired a map that was factually wrong," the spokesperson said on Sunday.
Two MSNBC broadcasters, Kate Snow and Martin Fletcher, "will address the map in a segment Monday about agendas and disinformation on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the spokesperson said.
Fletcher, a Middle East analyst, said on Sunday that the map and analyses were "dead wrong."
MSNBC broadcast images suggesting that Israel has stolen most of its land from the Palestinians since the Jewish state’s creation in 1948. The images promoted by the network have long been criticized by scholars and anti-Semitism watchdog groups as anti-Israel propaganda.
The maps closely resemble propaganda disseminated by anti-Israel organizations that support boycotts of the Jewish state and aim to portray it as stealing land once belonging to Palestine, a state that has never formally existed.
Fletcher condemned the map when reached by the Washington Free Beacon, saying that he regrets not pointing out the error at the time.
"The first of the four maps was dead wrong and should not have been included," Fletcher said. "I wish I had pointed that out when I first saw it."
The cable network’s broadcast came amid mounting criticism of Obama administration officials for accusing Israelis of "terrorism" and blaming the rise in violence on so-called "settlement" growth, or the construction of Jewish homes in Jewish neighborhoods.
The administration’s comments have led to calls from Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), among others, demanding that Secretary of State John Kerry resign over the Israeli criticism. Rep. Martha McSally (R., Ariz.) has submitted a resolution to cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinians as a result of the terror spree.
Kate Snow, an MSNBC anchor, claimed in the controversial broadcast that "we have a map that show historically the areas that used to be Palestine in 1946 and then the [United Nations] plan there and then how it shrunk down to basically Gaza and the West Bank, right, and then present."
"So what does that show you, Martin, that the area where Palestinians are living, has it grown significantly smaller?" Snow asked Fletcher during the broadcast.
"Well, absolutely, of course, this is what it’s all about," Fletcher responded. "I must say it’s pretty shocking when you present it this way.
However, the maps are factually inaccurate and highly misleading, according to experts and reports.
The graphic received widespread attention after it was posted to Twitter and criticized by Omri Ceren, managing director at the Israel Project, an organization that works with journalists on Middle East issues.
"It’s unfortunate that that this kind of misinformation found its way from the fringe into the mainstream, but no doubt the professionals at MSNBC are now asking themselves who exactly tried to commandeer their station into a propaganda outlet, and in the service of what kind of agenda," Ceren said.
One exposé published by the Economist in 2010 described a similar graphic as "clearly designed for propaganda purposes" and noted that it distorts facts in a way that "tendentiously maximises the impression that Jews have seized Palestinian-owned land."
The left-leaning Anti Defamation League has criticized billboards showing similar maps as "intentionally designed to mislead the public."
The MSNBC broadcast was celebrated by activists and journalists unsympathetic to Israel. Dena Takruri, a host and producer at Al Jazeera, hailed the network for "showing how much Palestinian land has been lost to Israel from 1946 to present" and as "[i]mportant context."
The incident has added to already-widespread accusations of systemic anti-Israel bias from MNSBC-employed reporters and analysts.
Earlier in the week, Ayman Mohyeldin, an NBC News foreign correspondent, triggered widespread criticism when he described a terrorist who had been shot dead while rushing at Israeli troops with a knife in his hand as empty-handed.
Mohyeldin, who is a former Al Jazeera reporter, told viewers that "both of [the terrorist’s] hands were open and both of his hands did not have a knife." Videotape taken of the incident by an NBC crew was playing on screen at the time and showed that the suspect had a knife in his hand. José Diaz-Balart, an NBC anchor, interrupted Mohyeldin to correct him.
Mohyeldin also failed to note that the terrorist was wearing a soldier-like camouflage uniform, which could be clearly seen on the video.
NBC News has struggled for years to deal with controversy over Mohyeldin’s reporting on Israel.
During the summer 2014 war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Mohyeldin posted a series of incendiary tweets attacking Israel and the U.S. State Department after four Palestinian children were accidentally killed in an Israeli strike on nearby Hamas infrastructure.
NBC News briefly pulled him from Gaza before sending him back a few days later in response to criticism from pro-Palestinian advocates.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet this week with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss growing violence in Israel. Kerry also will meet with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, who has come under fire in recent weeks for attempting to incite violence against Jewish people.