CNN's July 28th special, "Acts of Terror," presented in
collaboration with Time magazine, should be studied in journalism
schools. It is a guide to the ills of the profession, but above all to the
menace of anti-Israel bias. CNN anchor Bernard Shaw introduced the ninety-minute
program as a "report in depth" on both the Olympic bombing and the
July 17th crash of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island. Commentary turned to the
topic of Middle East terrorism and "why the United States has been targeted
with increasing frequency."
Scott MacLeod, veteran correspondent for Time, provided the answer:
He said, "...if the crash of TWA Flight 800 did have Middle East
origins it is worth taking a closer look at why somebody might perform such a
deed. Middle East terrorism is rooted in the conflicts that followed
colonialism. Much of this violence has surrounded the creation of Israel. When
Jewish nationalists made their state, they did so at the expense of local Arabs,
who lost homes, property and no less important, their dignity. That was nearly
fifty years ago and the wounds have never healed."
MacLeod continued: "Even moderate Muslims believe that America gives
Israel the green light to oppress Muslims. Washington is seen as the hand that
controls puppet Arab regimes who made peace with Israel."
More particularly, according to the reporter, Islamic fundamentalist
factions that have targeted America have done so because of Israel. "The
Lebanese Hezbollah group, which hit the U.S. hard in the 80's, is upset with
Israel's American-supported attacks on southern Lebanon, which left scores of
women and children dead. The Palestinian group Hamas is furious over America's
detention of one if its leaders. Musa Abu Marzook faces extradition to Israel."
Neither Shaw nor co-anchor Judy Woodruff uttered a word of challenge to this
nonsense. They did not distance themselves or their network from a report that
scapegoated tiny, democratic Israel for the myriad forces that spawn assaults on
America. No one winced at MacLeod's failure even to mention Middle East despots
that despise American democracy, freedom, individualism and tolerance.
Incredibly, the program omitted any reference to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and
Syria. The state of Israel alone was identified as the "cause" of
Let it be clear, first of all, that MacLeod's assertions about the creation
of Israel are boilerplate propaganda. The Jewish restoration of Israel nearly
fifty years ago was not a process of dispossession of native Arabs, regardless
of the relentless claims to this effect that are written, broadcast, and taught
in the Arab world and elsewhere. Zionist development renewed a desolate and
sparsely populated region, attracting 100,000 Arabs into Mandate Palestine
between the World Wars. Indeed, the centers of Jewish concentration in Palestine
were precisely those that drew the largest number of Arabs, while Arab towns
grew little or declined. Zionism was an economic boon to most Arabs.
That the Arab world, spurred on by leaders such as Haj Amin el Husseini,
opposed the reconstitution of a Jewish nation, and rejected numerous proposals
for territorial compromise, is part of the historical record. That the Arabs
hurled themselves ineffectually into repeated wars against Israel in an effort
to obliterate the new state is also a fact. But if the failure thus far to
eradicate Israel is an affront to Arab dignity, it is not the role of CNN to
falsify history, to blame Israel for the aggression perpetrated against her, or
to rationalize murderous attacks on America as an expression of wounded Arab
Nor is it ethical to impute fault to Israel because Hezbollah terrorists on
Israel's northern border hate all non-Islamic entities and vent their hatred
against the nearest target, the Western-oriented Jewish state. It is plain
malice for MacLeod to parrot Hezbollah charges against Israel and to be silent
about the decades during which Israeli communities have endured unprovoked
shelling from Lebanon. Jewish children have been forced to flee regularly to
bomb shelters and so pervasive is the threat that special ordinances require
Israeli homes in the north to be constructed with walls capable of withstanding
115 mm shells.
The stupidities and omissions of the CNN special are dangerous not only
because they incite viewers against Israel. They are a peril because they
distort and conceal vital information and obscure the sources of threat to
America. The message that Israel is the root cause of terrorism suggests that
action by that nation would dampen the rage at America. Yet, no ceding of
territory or other concessions to Palestinian Arabs would appease the Iranian
mullahs, the Iraqi tyrant, or the Islamic Jihad terrorists. Their grievance is
ultimately with the freedoms that the West reveres and Israel embodies.
Reporting of MacLeod's sort, blaming terrorism's victims and giving credence
to the rationalizations of the perpetrators, all too often renders our media no
more than purveyors of a blurred reality in the face of very real evil.