On the occasions when Western media does cover Israeli violence against Palestinians, Israeli guests, often officials, are always brought on to provide their perspectives, narratives and analyses. In yesterday’s lead story, it was Israelis who were the victims of Palestinian violence. The bloody attack, while certainly an event that merits coverage on its own, was part of a series of events in recent weeks which have not been covered with the same focus. And it was clear that the hosts and producers at CNN understood this since the notion of “rising tensions” and a “cycle of violence” was noted in many of the interviews with guests on CNN’s air yesterday.
Violence against Israelis is not the only thing happening in and around Jerusalem of course. A Palestinian was stabbed multiple times by settlers in Kufr Aqab yesterday and a boy was shot in Beitin village. Just days ago an 11 and 10 year old were shot in the face in separate instances. Raids into people’s homes and wide scale arrests take places on a near daily basis. Homes of Palestinians in Jerusalem are being subjected to the vile spewing of an odor laced spray. Threats by Israeli officials ofcontinued illegal settlement expansion are unabated. Oh, and this is just stuff that happened in the last few days.
Given that this event, which had brought so much focus to the “rising tensions”, was part of a broader context that involved Israelis and Palestinians alike you’d think balanced coverage would invite analysis from different perspectives. You’d think the questions that are commonly asked like “Where do we go from here?”, “What does this event mean?”, “Is this the beginning of a new intifada?”, “How can tensions be cooled?”, “Who/what is responsible for escalating tensions?” would be answered from both Israeli and Palestinian analytical perspectives. But was that the case?
Below are images of all the guests CNN had on for information and analysis around yesterday’s coverage. Scroll down to see how many Israelis, both officials and non-officials, Jewish Americans and Palestinians were guests on CNN yesterday. Note that not all images below are from yesterday’s programming as not all video is available yet but full transcripts of all CNN shows yesterday where these guests did appear are here.
Yuval Steinitz, Israeli Intelligence Minister
Micky Rosenfeld, Foreign Press Spokesman for the Israeli Police
Mark Regev, Chief Spokesman of the Israeli Prime Minister
Barak Ravid, Diplomatic Correspondent for the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz
Ron Prosor, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations
Dore Gold, President of the Israeli think tank, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
and former advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu
Ron Dermer, Israeli Ambassador to the United States
Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem
Aaron David Miller, Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and former
Senior Advisor on Arab–Israeli negotiations to Secretary of State Colin Powell
Peter Beinart, Political Commentator and author of The Crisis of Zionism
Alan Dershowitz, Professor at Harvard University and author of The Case for Israel
Yup, that’s right. ZERO Palestinians. Not one in a day’s worth of coverage and interviews which discussed not only the event of the day but also the context in which it was taking place. Keep in mind that some of the guests above appear multiple times throughout the day.
Yesterday when I got home I turned on CNN to see who they brought on, only to see yet another Israeli official on Erin Burnett’s show and no Palestinians. I tagged the host in a tweet criticizing the lack of Palestinian perspectives and this was the response:
Sorry Erin, that’s a cop out if I’ve ever seen one. Can you imagine such a response in a different context? Imagine if CNN had men on all day talking about gender issues or Whites on all day talking about race issues. I think most anchors would be embarrassed to say we asked some women and some minorities but they need to say yes. Asking a couple folks does not absolve you the journalist of the responsibility to provide balanced coverage and perspectives. And, to be clear, this isn’t only about Erin Burnett’s show, this was a network-wide failure all day yesterday at CNN.
There is also no shortage of qualified Palestinian analysts, in the U.S. or in Palestine, including specialists in the issue of Jerusalem in particular which could have provided an informed analysis in the “rising tensions” and the situation Palestinians in Jerusalem face and have been facing. Specialists like Salim Tamari, Issam Nassar, Thomas Abowd, Rashid Khaldi and many others are experts in these areas.
It simply was not important to CNN to cover that angle or side of the story. They’d be better off making changes to prevent that from happening again rather than making lousy and frankly embarrassing excuses.