Jun
30
2006

CBS's Mideast 'Cycle of Violence'

Analysis omits Palestinian deaths

On June 28, CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer turned to CBS reporter Bob Simon for analysis of the current Israel-Palestine crisis. What Simon offered, however, was a familiar scenario that puts the blame squarely on the Palestinian side.

As Simon put it:

We can't say how it's going to end, but there is a pattern to these Israeli-Palestinian crises which hardly ever varies. They begin with a Palestinian attack, in this case. The attack is designed to provoke a brutal Israeli response. The Israelis follow suit with that response. The response invariably radicalizes the population, makes them even more anti-Israeli, creates more suicide bombers. And the way it's going now, it looks once more like there is, at least in the Middle East, nothing new under the sun.

There's no reason why Simon's timeline of the crisis would 'begin' with the June 25 kidnapping of Israel soldier Gilad Shalit, or why that attack would be unequivocally attributed to a desire to "provoke a brutal Israeli response"—unless one wishes to erase the killings of Palestinian civilians over the past several weeks. Those deaths were mentioned by Hamas spokespeople in their statements justifying the raid, as was reported in many media outlets—including Simon's own CBS Evening News (6/25/06): "Gunmen from the armed wing of the ruling Hamas group took part in the raid, saying it was retaliation for recent Israeli air strikes that killed a top militant and 13 civilians."

If anything, what "hardly ever varies" is mainstream media's adherence to an attack-retaliation formula that overwhelmingly places the blame on the Palestinian side, though in the ongoing cycle of attacks both sides usually describe their actions as retaliatory. As FAIR noted in an April 4, 2002 Action Alert:

From the start of the Intifada in September 2000 through March 17, 2002, the three major networks' nightly news shows used some variation of the word "retaliation" ("retaliated," "will retaliate," etc.) 150 times to describe attacks in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. About 79 percent of those references were to Israeli "retaliation" against Palestinians. Only 9 percent referred to Palestinian "retaliation" against Israelis. (Approximately 12 percent were ambiguous or referred to both sides simultaneously.)

ACTION:

Contact CBS Evening News and tell them that Bob Simon's claim that a crisis in the Mideast only "begins" with attacks on Israelis does a disservice to CBS viewers—and sends the message that Palestinian lives are less important.

CONTACT:

CBS Evening News

evening@cbsnews.com

(212) 975-3247