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Media Analyses





CBS News Plays the Palestinian Propaganda Game in Gaza


Charlie Rose               Barry Petersen
 
For the last segment of the April 7, 2016 TV broadcast of CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, substitute host Charlie Rose presented a three-minute report  filmed in the Gaza Strip. Correspondent Barry Petersen and camera crew had filmed several Palestinian Arab men practicing the game of parkour (overcoming physical obstacles through the use of acrobatic and tumbling feats).
 
CBS News, under the guise of presenting life affirming – even heroic – optimism in the face of great adversity in the Gaza Strip, provides anti-Israel propaganda. What is the cause of this adversity confronting the men, according to the CBS report? Alleged Israeli aggression victimizing the helpless Gazans. Not a word about the reality that the main cause of the adversity is Gaza's rulers, Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement), who repeatedly have rejected a "two-state solution" and orchestrated the firing of rockets on Israeli towns and burrowing terrorism tunnels into Israel in an effort to hurt and kill civilians. This behavior is consistent with the Hamas charter, including the section that quotes Islamic hadith literature, "The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'" As to Israel's counter-attacks against Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip, in November 2014 Gen. Martin Dempsey, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that Israel had gone out of its way to avoid civilian casualties.
 
A young boy does parkour in a war-torn building in Palestine [sic.]. /CBS News [notice CBS' presumptive usage "Palestine" in this caption, referring to an imputed Palestinian objective but one which, absent an agreement with Israel negotiated according to U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian interim accords and related pacts, does not yet exist.]
/
Rose introduced the segment this way: “The physically demanding sport of parkour held its championships in Las Vegas last weekend. But a top team of Palestinians was a no-show, stuck in its war-torn homeland. Barry Petersen spent time with these athletes, who get their joy through jumping.”
 
The captions accompanying the CBS Web site parkour photos incorrectly use the term "Palestine," which echoes the Palestinian narrative. There has never been a state of Palestine, nor an Arab or Muslim entity by that name. The League of Nations'/United Nations' Palestine Mandate, administered by Great Britain from 1922 to 1948, was created to facilitate restoration of the Jewish national home and included the Gaza Strip. Arabs rejected while Jews accepted the 1947 U.N. partition plan calling for a Jewish and a new Arab state in Mandatory Palestine. Israel and Jordan are successor states to the original mandatory lands, the Gaza Strip and West Bank the unallocated remaining 5.5 percent, with the Strip currently controlled by Hamas, separate from the Palestinian Authority administering the West Bank.
 
The CBS Web site video footage from the broadcast shows several young men leaping downward, floor to floor, within the interior of a largely hollowed out building. Petersen asks one of the gamesters, “How many wars have you seen in your lives?,” “Three” he replies in English. Petersen comments, “Three wars. So the men on this parkour team call themselves Three Run Gaza for surviving three wars [war clip footage]. And they cannot leave because Gaza is under a blockade.”
 
CBS provides no relevant background on the partial Israeli blockade. While it's true that Israel frequently restricts passage of goods and people through its border crossings in response to repeated attacks from the Gaza Strip, Petersen offers no evidence that Israeli authorities prevented the parkour team from leaving to compete abroad or that the team was invited or qualified to compete. Earlier in the month, Israel suspended shipments of cement to Gaza because apparently Hamas was diverting building materials from construction projects to building terror tunnels (Jerusalem Post, April 4, 2016). Likewise, CBS fails to note that the Hamas rulers, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), impose external travel restrictions on the people of the Gaza Strip. Egypt, which controls the Rafah crossing from Gaza into the Egyptian Sinai, restricts and frequently halts transit there, partly to reduce Hamas support for anti-Egyptian Islamic terrorists operating in the peninsula.

Parkour team from ["]Palestine["] speaks with CBS News' Barry Petersen. /CBS News

Petersen translates, "'Parkour makes us feel free,' says Uday. ‘Nothing is holding you back.' Gaza's ruined and twisted cities are an improbably perfect outlet for their exuberance. They don't see danger, but challenge. Leaps and twists from floor to debris-strewn floor – ever higher – to the rooftop.”

Petersen stationed on a rooftop with Gaza gamesters (photo above), asks "If you look over there (pointing), you see the Israeli watch tower. What do you want them to think when they see you jumping and running? ‘No matter how many they destroy or kill,' Hamza says of the Israelis, ‘I will still dance and have fun.' There is already enthusiasm from the next generation, eager for drills teaching how safety comes from practice. Mohammad is the team's coach and its philosopher, ‘We love life and hope,' he said, ‘And peace.'" One can easily visualize a staffer from the Hamas-controlled Gaza information ministry with cue cards just out of TV camera view. Cynicism abounds here, "We love life and hope." Not for Hamas, essentially a death cult promoting suicide attacks in the name of Islam. Hamas has proclaimed to the Israelis: "We love death more than you love life."

Petersen concludes, "So what an outsider sees as death-defying, the men of Three Run Gaza see as life-affirming. ‘All around us is sadness', they say, but in the air, in the moment, is the sheer joy of youth. Barry Petersen, CBS News, Gaza." Rose gushing with hopefulness about the human spirit, cheerfully concludes, "The affirming joy of jumping. This is the CBS Evening News. For Scott Pelley, I'm Charlie Rose in New York." A skeptical journalist, especially one familiar with Hamas' terrorism tactics and strategy, might wonder if he or she were witnessing a disguised training program. But that category apparently would not include Rose or Petersen.

CBS' Charlie Rose and Barry Petersen are not newcomers to negatively portraying Israel and presenting Palestinian propaganda. Examples:

• Rose interviewed former President Jimmy Carter on Jan. 27, 2009 on PBS. A February 2009 CAMERA report critiqued the broadcast, "Charlie Rose … failed to confront Carter on his [numerous] misstatements, which included the assertion that ... Gazans are starving to death as a result of Israel's border restrictions."

• Syria's President Bashar al-Assad was interviewed by Rose seen on March 27, 2006 on PBS. An April 2006 CAMERA report critiqued the broadcast in which Rose coddled Assad, failing to challenge numerous misstatements and falsehoods vilifying Israel.

• Rose interviewed Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak on April 2, 2001 on PBS. A CAMERA report critiqued the broadcast, "In some instances, Mubarak uttered bald falsehoods – and Rose was silent. Mubarak was unchallenged when he declared that, regarding the holy places in Jerusalem: ‘...before 1967 there (was) free access for all people - Palestinians, Jews, Moslems, everybody could go there. So if it is going to be given back to the Palestinians I think there will be no problem about Jews to visit their holy places, or Moslems or Copts or Christians or other religions.' An interviewer may not be able to question every obfuscation by a guest, but such lies should have been challenged. The claim that Jews and Christians had free access to their holy sites in Jerusalem when Jordan occupied the eastern side of the city is absurd. Jews were unable to pray at the Western Wall or to enter the Temple Mount for 19 years. Israeli Christians too were severely limited in their access to holy sites."

• Aired Oct. 22, 2015 on CBS News, Barry Petersen provided an agonizingly neutral report on Palestinian Arab violence against Jews in Hebron in the West Bank (ancient Israel's heartland of Judea and Samaria). Petersen concluded, "The city is so much of what the Arab-Israeli conflict is about. Both sides vow that their claim on this land goes back thousands of years." The problem is that this comment erroneously places the Arab and Israeli claims to the land on an equal footing. The Israeli claim is confirmed, based on history, biblical accounts and archeological findings supporting 3,000 years of Jewish history and tradition. Not until the seventh century C.E. did Muslim Arab armies began to sweep westward across the continent from the Arabian Peninsula. Furthermore, the ancestors of today's Arabs making claim to the land, who call themselves "Palestinians," generally considered themselves as "southern Syrians" until well into the 20th century and many did not arrive in the region until the 19th or 20th centuries.
 
Journalistic malpractice

So it is that CBS' Rose and Petersen tend to force Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian reality through a Palestinian filter. That tendency certainly was on display as they combined efforts for this tendentious April 7, 2016 segment pandering to Palestinian Arabs, their supporters and the conventional wisdom of "the Palestinian narrative." Apparently, no journalistic scrutiny was necessary. Will CBS News provide reports on the Syrian and/or Iraqi parkour teams (yes, they exist)? Doubtful; blame for whatever adversity they face can't be imputed to rest with Israel. CBS News deserves thanks for this segment from one group, however: journalism professors looking for a case study in how not to approach and report a story.


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