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Media Analyses

Thumbs Down to David Hawkins

THUMBS DOWN to David Hawkins of CBS Evening News for his unbalanced July 15, 2001 broadcast on house demolitions, which is rife with factual errors and distortions.

While the broadcast features three spokespeople (in addition to Hawkins) who level dubious or altogether false accusations at Israel, it includes only a soundbite from Mayor Ehud Olmert, and not one word from a municipality expert in housing.

Bolstering the pro-Palestinian allegations, Hawkins erroneously states that Palestinian Salim Shawamreh’s "land, in the Palestinian village of Anata on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, overlooks what will eventually be an Israeli road for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. All the homes in this village are marked for demolition." First, the new road will not be only for West Bank Jewish settlers; it will also serve the resident Arabs. Moreover, it is completely false that all of the homes in Anata are slated for demolition. According to a municipality official, in all of Anata combined with nearby Shuafat, the city issued only 25 demolition orders. (Of those, only 14 were implemented–not 17, as Hawkins states .)

The reporter deceptively claims about Shawamreh that "Bulldozers demolished the home he’d spent his life savings to build." Viewers might be interested to know that Shawamreh, along with Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, has repeatedly traveled in comfort to North America to criticize Israeli policies, demand a halt in U.S. aid to Israel, and collect generous donations to rebuild his house yet again on land that he already knows has zoning problems.

It comes as no surprise that Halper, who on U.S. radio compared Israeli zoning laws to Nazi Nuremberg Laws, accuses Israel of "ethnic cleansing." It is surprising, however, that CBS allows such propagandizing to pass as journalism.

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