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CNN Lauds 'Beautiful Americans' In Afghanistan While Blasting 'Ugly Israelis' In Gaza

CNN Reports How Americans In Afghanistan Are Using 'Books Not Bombs' To Win The War While Israel Focuses On Destruction of Gaza

IsraCast Assessment: Recent In-depth Report 'Generation Islam' by Christiane Amanpour Illustrates How International Media Often Skew Reality

Amanpour's Camera Had One Focus For Afghanistan & A Different Focus For Gaza

IDF troops near the Gaza Strip

 The latest U.S. bomb strike that killed an estimated 90 people in Afghanistan on Sept. 4th, many of them reportedly civilians, has again raised the dilemma of how conventional forces should fight terrorists that deliberately use civןilians as shields. This is the case in Gaza no less than Afghanistan. However, international forוums such as the U.N. and the international media often skew their reporting when it comes to Israel. The CNN's recent report 'Generation Islam' is a case in point.

 'In Afghanistan, the U.S. military tries to win the war with more than bombs' and 'fighting with books not bombs' - these are captions for the Special Report by CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. She poses the question:'Is it possible to win the hearts and minds of Muslim youth?' A comparative report then attempts to relate what Americans are doing in Afghanistan and then, what Israelis have done to Gaza.

After referring briefly at the outset to the causes of 9/11 and the thousands of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza, there is little semblance at being fair and balanced between what the Americans are doing in Afghanistan and Israelis to Gaza. In Gaza, she hastens to add that provocations by both Palestinians and Israelis triggered Israel's recent 'Cast Lead Operation'.

CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour (image: CNN.com)

Amanpour went to an Afghan village, recently been demolished by an American air strike that killed and wounded scores of innocent civilians. Amid the rubble, Amanpour consoles a weeping relating to the ongoing NATO campaign against the Taliban and which leads into a sound-bite apology by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. The American air-strikes that have inadvertently hit Afghan civilians, have been an ongoing issue for years and so much so that even Afghan President Hamid Karzai has publicly complained to both the Bush and Obama administrations.

If this is not a decisive factor bearing on the hearts and minds of young Afghans what is? Yet, almost en passant, in a one-on one interview with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs no less, CNN's chief international correspondent deigns not to pose any tough questions but continues on her mission of showcasing how the U.S. is 'not only fighting the war with bombs but with books'. There are smiling U.S. troops in full combat gear filmed handing out books and pencils to Afghan children. And a lengthy segment with an admirable American volunteer who, with the aid of U.S. charitable organization, has set up an educational network for Afghan children. One of the most bizarre shots are of a group of Afghans who are grouped together to answer the reporter's question about whether they like the lessons to which they reply in unison: 'Yeeeees!'

Okay, CNN is an American owned network and if its Chief International Correspondent decides to focus on this this particular aspect of the war in Afghanistan that is up to CNN. However, the report then moves on to the hearts and minds of young Muslims in Gaza. IDF Chief of Staff Gaby Ashkenazi is not recorded apologizing for the Palestinian civilian casualties. And would Amanpour have allowed Ashkenazi or any other IDF officer to get off with an apology? No way, they would have been grilled in detail. Now Amanpour did not make clear whether she had requested an Israeli response been turned down, but even if she had this would not justify her obvious approach of presenting the 'beautiful Americans' in Afghanistan as compared to the 'ugly Israelis' who have devastated Gaza.

Again, at the start of her Gaza segment Amanpour did make this very balanced but then slanted introduction... provocations by both sides. In the Afghan segment focused on the American volunteer whereas in Gaza she concentrates on the tragedy of the Palestinian doctor whose three daughters were killed when the IDF attacked a building suspected of being used as a shooting position by terrorist snipers.

By this time, buried deep in the Gaza rubble and amid the death and destruction, it was easy to forget, even if one had been told at the outset that the Palestinians had launched thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians for over eight years and had terrorized tens of thousands of Israeli children, women and men. Moreover, Amanpour interviews Palestinian boys at a summer camp who were getting pre-military training. And when Amanpour asks them what they want to be when grow older they all reply: 'To be guerrillas and martyrs to fight the Israelis'.

In brief, the CNN report concentrates on how the devastation inflicted by the IDF has led, and is leading to future terrorism by the young Islamic generation in Gaza, whereas U.S. troops are also trying to win over young Afghans by handing out books and pencils. Granted Israeli soldiers cannot hand out books and pencils in Gaza, but at the very least Amanpour could have noted, for example, that thousands of Palestinians have received medical treatment in Israeli hospitals and not for military wounds.

In a more serious vein, CNN totally ignored, as often is in the case in TV reporting, the basic cause and effect context of the Gaza situation. Even though, most people around the world are fully aware of the 9/11 reason for the U.S. being entitled to combat the Taliban in Afghanistan, Gaza is a different story. If Amanpour focused so dramatically on the Israeli destruction in Gaza as opposed to what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan, should she not at least have had one Israeli reaction or one reference to the damage and suffering caused on the Israeli side of the border? Maybe CNN would reply that this was not part of the story. But was it not Amanpour's duty, as a professional journalist to ask even one question of the young Palestinians, about what they thought about their own elected Hamas government that has brought such devastation on Gaza by relentlessly rocketing Israeli civilians?

 

David Essing

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