When Hussam Abdo, a young Palestinian teenager, was caught at an Israeli checkpoint with a suicide belt hidden under his sweater, the efforts of Israeli soldiers to help him safely cut off the belt were broadcast around the world, thanks to the chance presence of an AP cameraman. The New York Times published on its front page a five photo sequence taken from the video, and many other papers gave the story and photos similar prominence.
CNN also covered the breaking story, and a few days later returned to the incident with a “spotlight” report on Palestinian “children as weapons of war,” (Mar. 27, 2004), seeking to understand, as anchor Carol Lin put it, “... what convinces these children that they should strap a belt of explosives to themselves and risk their lives for whatever cause.” (After clicking on the link scroll down most of the way to find the segment.)
Unfortunately, the segment, reported by CNN’s Cairo Bureau Chief, Ben Wedeman, succeeded only in obscuring the issue by never once mentioning the sustained campaign of hatred and incitement against Jews and Israelis that has been a staple of Palestinian newspapers, television, radio, mosques, summer camps and classrooms. Instead of exploring for viewers the horrifically effective Palestinian brainwashing campaign that has convinced so many Palestinians to kill and be killed, CNN in effect blamed Israel for the suicide bombings.
Wedeman accomplished this by interviewing only one “expert” on the subject, Palestinian psychiatrist Eyad Sarraj, who has made a specialty of claiming that Palestinian suicide bombers had been “traumatized” by Israeli occupation. According to Sarraj, who never mentions Palestinian hate indoctrination, the primary reason that children are drawn into suicide bombings is that:
... some of the children are so defiant of their own family because the father figure as a symbol of power, has been destroyed over the last few years, because he could not protect his children.
This, of course, makes it seem that Palestinian parents oppose suicide bombings, and that the bombers defy their parents. But the opposite is often true. For example, the mother of one teenage terrorist was recorded on film personally urging her son to “wage Jihad and come back only as a martyr.” (MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 673, Mar. 4, 2004)
With his mother’s encouragement ringing in his ears, Mohammed Farhat attacked a Jewish seminary, killing five young students before he received his desired “martyrdom” at the hands of Israeli soldiers. His mother later stated in an interview that she “always longed to be the mother of a shahid (martyr) ... let all my sons be shahids.”
And, as the The New York Times reported in covering the Abdo story, this is not an unusual sentiment: “Many Palestinian parents have praised their sons and daughters for carrying out suicide attacks, hailing them as heroes and martyrs.” ( Mar. 25, 2004)
In addition, Sarraj and CNN also ignore the fact that the prime “father figure” in Palestinian society, Yasir Arafat, extols “shahids,” and that the Palestinian media and schools that he directly controls places such terrorists on a pedestal, as the ones “closest to Allah.” In an interview on Palestinian television, for example, Arafat glorified child martyrs:
... this child who is grasping the stone, facing the tank, is it not the greatest message to the world when that hero becomes a shahid? We are proud of them ... (PATV, Jan. 15, 2002 cited in Ask for Death, Palestinian Media Watch.)
Rather than examining why and how the Palestinian Authority has succeeded in brainwashing parents and kids to hate Jews and Israelis, and to revel in a cult of death, CNN instead fed its viewers Palestinian propaganda, such as Carol Lin’s claim that “There is a backlash going on now ... the family of this ... boy are coming out and telling the terrorists to let our children alone.”
Well, not quite. The boy’s mother actually said that he was slightly too young; had those who sent him just waited a few years, everything would have been OK:
Mrs. Abdo, in a view echoed by many others, made clear that she opposed only those suicide attacks carried out by under age bombers. “Maybe if he is 20, then perhaps I could understand,” she said of her own son. “At that age, they know what they are doing, they are fighting for their homeland.” (New York Times, Mar. 26, 2004)
CNN does no one any favors by covering up the hate campaign that has so permeated and debased Palestinian society. By making excuses for Palestinian terrorism, CNN only prolongs the suffering of both Palestinians and Israelis.