Rabbi Leo Dee, whose wife and two daughters were murdered in a terror attack, is considering a $1.3 billion lawsuit against CNN over their international anchor Christiane Amanpour describing the terror attack as a “shootout.”
Dee made the announcement via video during a May 21 event at The Carlebach Shul in New York titled, “Antisemitism: Is There No Solution?” as part of the third annual Yoav Boteach Memorial Lecture series, in honor of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s late father. Dee was speaking alongside Boteach, Elisha Wiesel, chairman of the board of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, and Rabbi Naftali Citron. Media watchdog HonestReporting had reported that Amanpour had said during an April 10 interview with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, “We have a young 15-year-old Palestinian boy who’s been shot and killed by security — Israeli security forces. We also have the mother of two sisters, Israeli British sisters. They were — they were killed in a shootout, and now the mother has died of her injury — injuries.”
“A shootout is two sides firing at each other,” HonestReporting tweeted on May 11. “A mother & her two daughters were shot at close range by Palestinian terrorists. @amanpour, you owe a grieving family an apology.”
According to @CNN's Christiane Amanpour, three members of the Dee family "were killed in a shootout."
A shootout is two sides firing at each other.
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) May 11, 2023
During the event, which was livestreamed on Boteach’s Facebook and Instagram pages, Dee showed attendees an email he received from Amanpour where she apologized to him, claiming she “misspoke.” Amanpour also offered her condolences and said there was no “ill intent” on her part. Dee responded with a lengthy email saying he did not accept her apology because she spread false information to millions of people and asked her to apologize publicly; he claimed to have received no reply from her.
“It’s funny, CNN will correct the misspelling of someone’s name publicly, as will The New York Times, but CNN won’t correct this,” Boteach told the Journal.
Dee then claimed to have received a call from CNN Jerusalem Bureau Chief Richard Allen Greene separately apologizing for Amanpour’s error. Dee asked Greene if he understood the difference between his family being murdered by Palestinian terrorists and Israeli forces neutralizing the threat of Palestinian terrorists. Dee alleged that Greene replied, “I am not in a position to make a judgment” due to his position as a journalist. Dee had previously been interviewed by CNN on-air in April, and the segment ended with CNN London Bureau Anchor Christina MacFarlane saying, “Just as we heard Rabbi Dee’s story, coming up we’ll hear similar stories from Palestinians.” Dee excoriated CNN for drawing a false “moral equivalency,” telling The Jewish Chronicle at the time: “There is no equivalent on the Israeli side. I don’t know of any Israeli terrorist who has murdered Palestinians in cold blood in almost 30 years.”
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“How could CNN continually condemn Donald Trump for lying and saying he didn’t lose election––and he did lie, because he did lose election––when [CNN] lied about murder and will not retract it?” Boteach told the Journal.
Consequently, Dee said he was considering a $1.3 billion lawsuit and has been approached by attorneys offering to handle the case pro bono; Benjamin Brafman, who some consider to be the best defense attorney in America, has agreed to be Dee’s lead co-counsel. Dee argued that the $1.3 billion figure was the same number that Dominion sued Fox News for (Dominion and Fox settled for nearly $800 million) and that Amanpour’s defamation that his wife and daughters were firing at Palestinian terrorists was worse than Fox’s claims about Dominion rigging the 2020 election against Trump. However, Dee said he would reconsider the lawsuit if CNN not only publicly apologized for Amanpour’s remarks, but also if they started providing more balanced coverage of Israel.
“He said… it’s not only for the pain and aggravation and the defamation, he said it’s also for incitement,” Boteach, who is friendly with Dee, told the Journal. “He believes the constant incitement against Israel as a morally reprehensible nation incites people to kill Israelis.”
Brafman said in a statement to the Journal, “The monstrous crime against the Dee family, who were simply out to enjoy a Passover excursion and were brutally murdered by Palestinian terrorists, has been compounded, and their memory desecrated, by CNN’s false reporting as to how they were murdered. We intend to hold CNN to account and bring justice to Rabbi Dee and his surviving children.”
CNN did not respond to the Journal’s requests for comment.
The Jerusalem Post had reported on May 17 that the Israeli Foreign Ministry was drafting a complaint against CNN and Amanpour over her comments. Dee was quoted in the Post as saying, “This is the perfect example of ‘terror journalism,’ where you have moral equivalence between the terrorist and victim. This type of journalism perpetuates the conflict in the Middle East. The real cycle of violence is a comment like this followed by a terrorist atrocity and then more of the same.”
UPDATE: During a May 22 CNN broadcast, Amanpour apologized to Dee on air, stating: “On April 10, I referred to the murders of an Israeli family: Lucy, Maia and Rina Dee, the wife and daughters of Rabbi Leo Dee. I misspoke and said they were killed in a ‘shootout’ instead of a shooting. I have written to Rabbi Leo Dee to apologize and make sure that he knows that we apologize for any further pain that may have caused him.”
SUCCESS: Following our campaign for a public apology, @CNN’s @amanpour says live on air: “I have written to Rabbi Leo Dee to apologize and make sure that he knows that we apologize for any further pain that may have caused him.”
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) May 22, 2023