Did I actually hear CNN’s Anderson Cooper say that: 1) Israel was responding to rocket fire shot from the densely populated Gaza City neighborhood and 2) that rocket fire from the residential parts of the city made it so difficult for the Israelis to always surgically target their enemies? Yes, because I listened to his report a second time and that is exactly what he said in not so many words. He even told the Senior Palestinian Negotiator Saab Erakat that his pronouncements about Israel were not correct and that he was being misleading. Is this a brave new CNN truly attempting an agenda of balanced reporting?
As a student of human behavior I tend to be somewhat skeptical when I hear about alterations of long lasting, well kept views. Changes in perception, attitudes and behavior are not easy to come by and are usually preceded by some event or experience that alters prior tendencies. Did Anderson Cooper have some life changing experience? Did CNN’s producers? I have scoured the Internet for some explanation and have found not a single shred of current data that might explain this new phenomenon. There are some reports going back 10 years indicating that CNN was caught reporting, or worse, fabricating information about Israel that could not be seen as anything but downright anti-Semitic. While the perennial anti-Israel crowd reshuffles old YouTube reports about Israeli soldiers who were conscientious objectors four or more years ago and Palestinian supporters are accusing Israel of starting this round despite the fact that Hamas never stopped firing rockets into Israel, some international news outlets, or should I say, some reporters at some international news outlets are taking a more honest look at the conflict.
At this moment the only change that I can see as an explanation for the change in Cooper, CNN or other reporters position toward Israel may be a sociological or socio-psychological one. The Arab spring did not bring the promise that these reporters so excitedly spoke about as the revolutions began. Instead there is more fundamentalism, aggression and repression spreading through the Middle East. When fundamentalists state that “We love death more than the Israelis love life” reporters can no longer view it as a simple metaphor. Modern, progressive human rights advocates throughout the Mid-East are under siege, if they have not yet been jailed or murdered. There is simply no way that a reporter can white wash this reality. Less then a year ago, a prominent Palestinian Mahmoud Abu Rahma, was critically beaten for stating that Hamas’ actions endangered the well being of Palestinians. Similarly an Italian activist Vittorio Arigoni was killed in Gaza City by activists. The list of individuals beaten, killed and threatened by Hamas and its factions is extensive. In fact, most residents of Gaza are likely living a life of constant intimidation.
As President Obama said, “No country on earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens.” Perhaps that is the new reality that honest reporters see. Of course, this can radically change in an instant. And, if it does the new report will hyper-focus on an alleged major Israeli transgression. For the time being, however, they are getting it right.One can only hope it lasts.