Tuesday, June 12, 2007


CNN Earns My Reluctant Admiration

Can you spot the subtle discrepancy in this CNN screen-shot?

Yes, the violence in the Middle east is unending; and yes, it is Palestinians in their wretched refugee camps that seem to suffer the most. (Although even there, not all is as it seems; the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Ismail Haniyeh, lives in the Shati refugee camp in the Gaza Strip... so perhaps the camps aren't as wretched as all that.)

So what is unusual here?

What's unusual, to my eyes at least, is that Israel is not mentioned.

Granted, Israel has nothing to do with this story; it is a battle between Palestinian Islamists and the Lebanese Army. Still, that has rarely stopped CNN, or other major news sources, from dragging Israel into it. I'm impressed that CNN did not do so this time, particularly since I can think of many ways they could have done it.

For example, this sort of operation, cleaning terrorists (or is it just political enemies?) out of a Lebanese refugee camp, is very similar to the events at Sabra and Shatilla in 1982, for which Israel was vilified mercilessly in the press for months -- not because Israel did it, but because Israel did not anticipate it and take steps to prevent it. (Israel, by the way, conducted a thorough investigation and sacked some high-ranking military officers as a result -- officers who failed to anticipate what later happened.)

Perhaps we'll see a similar vilification of the Lebanese Army in the world press now; perhaps Lebanon will conduct its own internal investigation into the matter. but I doubt it.

Or perhaps the fact that Red Cross workers were killed could have been used, by the press, to revive this incident. Or perhaps parallels could have been drawn to Israel's cleaning out of terrorists in the Jenin refugee camps in April 2002 (for which Israel was again vilified, as usual).

No doubt other news organizations will tie this story to Israel that way, or in other ways. But CNN, at least for the moment, is not doing so... and my hat's off to them for it.

UPDATE: Apparently I'm not alone in remarking on this. The Australian sports an incredulous headline: "Fight rages in Strip without Israeli in sight". (In other words, The Australian is amazed that Palestinians are capable of finding something else to fight about??? Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations...)

The journalist in question, Stephen Farrell, bemoans the fact that he used to be able to walk around Gaza freely and safely. He knew who the players were (with a subtle insinuation: Palestinians = Good Guys, Israelis = Bad Guys). But no more -- everyone wears black, everyone wears masks, everyone uses the same weapons.

Yes, he regrets the violence -- but it's hard to escape the conclusion, from his article, that it's all about him. Hamas has closed the bars in Gaza, and kidnapping isn't just for Israelis anymore. Poor baby.


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