Sometimes, all it takes is a catchy phrase to perfectly capture the moral absurdity or obscenity of a moment — and help people understand the danger. The titles of two recent books — “People Love Dead Jews” by Dara Horn and “Jews Don’t Count” by David Baddiel — seem to fit the bill. I propose a slight revision of these two sayings. I make this proposal after analyzing a six-part CNN series purportedly covering the history of Jerusalem, entitled “Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury.” My new phrase: “CNN loves when dead Jews don’t count.”
There is, of course, no inherent problem in including the commentary of partisans or activists. They can provide viewers with context, giving them competing viewpoints on contentious issues. However, CNN’s failure to properly identify activists or to provide counterbalancing voices goes well beyond the line of objective storytelling.
CNN has a problem with Jerusalem’s history. The network apparently views the utter destruction of the city, including the Second Temple – a historic event of great significance to all three Abrahamic religions – as just not as important to the story of Jerusalem as…Cleopatra.
In addressing the Six-Day War, CNN accentuated even further its habit throughout the series of distorting events to portray Arabs as powerless victims. In some cases, this narrative is laid absurdly bare, such as when the narrator tells viewers “[t]he [Jordanian] shelling is meant to target Jews in West Jerusalem, but it’s the Palestinian Arabs living in the area that are left defenseless.” Yes – CNN suggested that when Arabs were trying to kill Jews, it was really Arabs who were the victims.
Beginning on July 18, CNN has been airing each Sunday a new, six-part series entitled “Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury.” As of this writing, Parts 1-5 have been broadcast and have been seriously marred by factual inaccuracies and one-sided narratives omitting vital information. Many of the “experts” featured in the series have clear histories of anti-Israel activism and partisanship. A preliminary sample of how disconnected the CNN series is from reality and objectivity follows.