Would Somebody Please Tell CBS News That Gaza is NOT Israel
Should anyone ever need an example of the hopeless ignorance and bias (albeit unintentional perhaps) of the American media on the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, your search is hereby ended.
An Israeli academic forwarded me an e mail from a producer for Katie Couric’s CBS News program. In it, she requested help from the Israel studies faculty at Columbia University for a broadcast on the night the IDF seized the Rachel Corrie:
Columbia Faculty in the Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies:
I am sorry to email all of you but I was hoping someone in your department might be able to help. For tonight’s evening news we are trying to make a map of the exclusion zone around Israel. I am wondering if you would have any information – not for attribution of course – just to help us make this map. The embassy and dept of defense etc. haven’t been able to be helpful and I thought you might be able to help even if it is just a point in the right direction.
Thank you for your time and assistance…
CBS Evening News with Katie Couric
In other words, a producer for one of America’s major national news programs doesn’t understand the distinction between Israel and Gaza, and doesn’t realize that the latter isn’t the former. Because she doesn’t understand this she of course will never understand the concept that the Israeli siege is illegal and that Israel has no right to establish an exclusion zone around Gaza. Which means she will never be able to understand much of anything about this conflict except what she understands from the Israeli vantage point. Note too that she turned to Columbia’s Israel studies faculty to answer her question.
50 thoughts on “Would Somebody Please Tell CBS News That Gaza is NOT Israel – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
Comments are published at the sole discretion of the owner.
It reminds me of last fall when I was planning my trip to Palestine, to the West Bank. My co-workers kept asking me how my plans were coming along for my “trip to Israel.” I kept telling them, “I’m not going to Israel, I’m going to Occupied Palestine.”
There’s a plus side to the confusion–it leads directly to “one man, one vote”. If these people think the occupied territories are part of Israel, what do they think about the fact that (given what they believe) nearly half of the people in “Israel” can’t vote?
Also, of course, Israel seems a little confused about the distinction too.
There is nothing new under the sun when it comes to some US (or maybe even European) based correspondents.
In many instances they get their information from researchers (as in the case above) and don’t really understand the situation happening in some “far off country”. They read the copy and move on.
It’s especially annoying when they don’t even get the pronunciation of a place or name correct. One example I used to hear and cringe at was “Shimon Peres” having his last name come out “Perez”, sounding more like he is from a Spanish or South American country. It really isn’t that hard to listen when people tell them the proper pronunciation of a place or person.
Several years ago a CBS (co-incidence?) correspondent, I think it was Dan Rather, was in the Old City standing on a balcony with the background showing the Western Wall as well as the Dome of the Rock. They were going to do their “live” report from there. He turns to one of the crew and asks… “Now what am I looking at?” The crew member, a bit surprised informed him the names of the two sites, and I believe a brief history (can’t vouch for accuracy here). Not the way I’d expect a news professional to get their story.
Richard’s point is very true in that if they don’t take the time to read the name right, know the difference between to areas of conflict, how can you expect them to really know what they are talking about or even provide an “insight” into the story.
On an additional note, it gets to be even trickier for them knowing who’s point of view to report and what wording to call certain areas of conflict.
I worked as a news (video) editor for a few major European stations in the past. Sometimes the new correspondent would fly in and have to get an update rather quickly as to “what was what and who is who”… sometimes they came right from some other “hotbed” and had to play “catch-up” to know what to report…. These correspondents in general had a better handle and did their homework at least to know what they were going to say and report… not always an easy task.
“It’s especially annoying when they don’t even get the pronunciation of a place or name correct.”
In agreement completely especially when hearing some US politicians, servicemen and newscasters pronouncing ‘Iraq’ and ‘Iran” as ‘I-ran’ and ‘I-rack’.
If you already illegally occupying a country and talk of nuking another, you should at least get their names right. Phonetically they are ‘E-run’ and ‘E-ruck’ respectively.
Probably those US politicians, servicemen and newscasters think the the two sovereign entities in question are an extension of Apple products.
“Phonetically they are ‘E-run’ and ‘E-ruck’ respectively.”
Actually, no. Iran, spelled ايران is correctly pronounced ee-ron whereas Iraq, spelled عراق, should be pronounced in English more like ear-ok, which is an accommodation, since its first syllable begins with a letter that is very difficult for non-Arabic speakers to pronounce.
Thanks Shirin for that correction.
Thanks for thanking me. Not everyone appreciates my obsession with these kinds of things!
Two of the things I learned to a happy marriage are always:
(1) thank your wife when she corrects you
(2) compliment her on any form of obsession as traits of endearment
And after nearly 15 years of this wonderful union, the habit has been subconsciously extended to other ladies as well but of course within the Syariah approved guidelines.
It makes me go a little crazy, too. One of the most infamous is Abu Ghraib, which is pronounced “greb,” not “grabe.” It is probably one of the most mispronounced names of all time.
But mispronunciations of names are one thing (annoying and depicting lazy reporting), and misrepresenting facts another. One of the worst things I’m seeing in the coverage of the flotilla massacre is the perpetuation of incorrect information, including the allegation that terrorists were on board the Mavi Marmara. This is irresponsible at best, and slanderous at worst, that the dead would be dishonored this way.
Abu Ghraib, of course, does not contain the hard “g” in Arabic, but the gh sound, which is similar to the French “r”. It is spelled in Arabic غريب. It is all but impossible to pronounce the vowel sound ay (as in day) after ghr, so in Arabic it always comes out as some variant of ghreb. As I mentioned before I find it quite endearing that Keith Olberman always makes a manly attempt to pronounce the ghr combination, though he fails because he pushes air when he tries to pronounce it, so it comes out as some odd combination of gh and kh. Even though he can’t quite pull it off, at least he is trying!
Speaking of inexcusably horrible pronunciations, how about Eye-rack, Eye-ran, KuhTAR for Qatar, KuhLEED for KHAlid, huhmuss for homos, full awful for falafal, Bazra for Basra, MuhZOOL for MOsul, and so on. It is like a nail being drawn across the cornea to listen to things like this, and there is no excuse for it. Most news organizations have an Arabic speaker somewhere to advise them, and if they don’t a quick call to the nearest university language department will give them the information they need to bring their pronunciations within a reasonable range of what is correct.
PS One of the most endearing things in the media in this regard is Keith Olberman attempting to pronounce Abu Ghraib correctly. He mucks it up pretty badly, but the fact that he is really trying and failing to pronounce a very difficult consonant combination and not taking the easy way out makes it hard not to appreciate the fact that he is really trying to get it right.
Don’t forget “cobble” for Kabul.
One of my favorites is newscasters saying “Bibi NIT’N-yahu.” Every syllable in his name should be pronounced as spelled with the emphasis on YA.
And then there is the name Saddam pronounced as Sodom.
Although no news media individual from one country should be expected to get the full and correct phonetic sound when pronouncing names or places of a foreign country, I agree that they should at least make an attempt to do so in as much as saying it as correctly possible.
Shirin very likely correct, most news stations not only have a staff member who checks language grammar, but have staffers who speak a variety of foreign languages. If they take the time to (hopefully) get any facts right, you’d think they would make the effort to get a correct pronunciation as well.
As some one who is COMPLETELY uneducated to Hebrew and Arabic pronunciation – but is learning Greek – Is there a forum where I could learn more about the languages?
“…she of course will never understand the concept that the Israeli siege is illegal and that Israel has no right to establish an exclusion zone around Gaza.”
Where do you get this assertion? It isn’t true.
It is a fact that Gaza is a foreign entity that is at war with Israel. It is a fact that according to most versions of maritime law, Blockading an either a state actor OR similar entity is a legal act. Gaza, under rule of Hamas, is an enemy of Israel no matter how you slice it; the Blockade is legal.
Matthew, this is simply ridiculous what you are saying.
Gaza is not a separate country from Palestine, therefore, we must assume by your reasoning that Israel is at war with Palestine….as evidenced, I suppose, by its atrocious behavior in the West Bank.
The blockade is illegal because it is a form of collective punishment as set forth in the 4th Geneva Convention. This has been made clear again and again not only by the UN but also by every human rights organization on the planet.
You cannot have a war against only one part of an entity (in this case, Palestine). There is no such thing a a partially pregnant woman either. And of course, this is not a war, it is an illegal occupation of both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, not to mention Jerusalem.
Mary, you are very wrong in this case.
A entity does not have to be a whole country to be an entity with which you are at war. But as it stands, Gaza and the West Bank are fundamentally distinct, regardless of whether they should be rejoined in the future. Fatah controls the West Bank; Hamas controls Gaza. There is no overarching government or pseudo-government that controls both territories.
Blockades are NOT a form of collective punishment. Why do you keep saying this? The 4th Geneva Convention has language in it that states that the Blockading power (Israel) does need to allow humanitarian aid through, but that it has the right to inspect and verify cargo of ‘humanitarian ships.’ Moreover, it specifies that the passage of those goods can be regulated to prescribed routs, such as the boats docking in Ashdod and being delivered overland, as the Israelis offered (as did the Egyptians, by the way).
The UN has never come out with a single statement that actually mentions how Israel’s Blockade violates those rules. (Article 59, Paragraph 4 is what I was reading). I would put forward this is due to an intrinsic anti-Israel bias, and the fact remains that the 4th Geneva Convention allows very explicitly for Israel’s Blockade, both in spirit and in how it has been carried out.
You may disagree with exactly what goods Israel allows in. The 4th Geneva convention, to my knowledge, never mentions what exactly is humanitarian and what isn’t. It is clear that countries of the UN don’t agree on what explicitly is a humanitarian good or not. The basic necessities to live, however, are allowed entry, as well as provided by Israel as required by law.
If you want to have the debate on what explicitly should be allowed, we can, but to blanket call the Blockade illegal is disingenuous until you have provided real facts. This is why I posted my first comment. I don’t particularly believe that you have any real facts to back up your claims, but I was looking to see if anyone could provide a more detailed argument that might change my mind.
Your response has only highlighted that you haven’t yet done your homework, and instead are relying on assertions and accusations of groups (who I would accuse of extreme bias) that have provided no fundamental defense of their claims.
I am sure that Richard will appreciate my not getting into the same old hasbara arguments with you regarding the illegality of the blockade on Gaza. If the UN and many other legal and humanitarian organizations state clearly that the blockade is illegal, why do you have the chutzpah to come to this comment thread and dispute this point?
Your capacity for spinning nonsense is phenomenal but since I have indeed done my homework and have argued with much more skillful hasbarists than yourself, I can spot BS from a good distance, and sir, you are spouting it.
The level to which you, and people like you, have convinced yourselves of your own untruths is beyond the pale.
The “UN” is simply composed of its member nations. The fact that there are 54 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (plus allies) voting as a bloc does not bode well for the UN’s credibility and objectivity. Perhaps if there were 54 Jewish states things would be more balanced.
I am sure the member states of the UN have plenty of international law experts to advise them. And I don’t think the number of Jews makes any difference. If you haven’t noticed, not nearly all Jews support what Israel is doing to the Palestinians. And Israel has been whining for years about the unfairness of the UN, which is what it always does when it doesn’t get its own way.
Are you then willing to say that Israel should be condned more than any other country? A week ago there was an attack on a minority mosque in Pakistan that killed 70 people, with follow up killings at the hospital. South Korea recently asked the UN to do something about North Korea’s torpedoing of a s. Korean vessel in s. Korean waters, killing 46 sailors. You don’t see a pattern of bias here? Or what about your own reverence and respect for Turkey? Modern Turkey is founded on the murder of 1.5 million Armenians and the depopulation of hundreds of villages, not to mention ongoing oppression of the Kurds and bombing of Kurdish villages that harbor separatist groups. Yet nome of this registers on the UN’s radar or elicits any international protests. Are you willing to accept this pattern at face value, as an accurate reflection of reality? Namely, that Israel gets all the attention at the UN because it actually deserves it?
Personally, I think it makes more sense to sugget that Arab and Islamic culture is what drives the Muslim world to focus on Israel, such as honor/shame in light of Israeli victories and the fact that Palestine used to be rules by Muslims, and is now ruled by Jews, something that is unacceptable in Islamic theology. It is this grid or paradigm which is truly fueling opposition to Israel among Muslims, masked by the rhetoric of international law and human rights.
Yoni has been banned here in the past for advocating the hanging of any Israeli prime minister who agrees to share Jerusalem. But like a bad case of E coli, he keeps coming back and attempting to do damage by striking a blow for his pro-settler view of Israel. He somehow manages to sneak back for yet another stab at racist hasbara. I’m leaving this comment up though it is dripping in ignorance and anti-Muslim racism.
The only thing I can say for him is that he’s cleaned up his act and doesn’t advocate killing Israeli leaders these days. I view him as a troll-provocateur. You may reply to him if you wish. But like a rabid dog, he’s prob. best left alone.
Yoni–don’t you have enough company with your fellow settler supporters at YU that you have to go slumming here?
Aw, keep him around. We need a little comic relief now and then.
Didn’t you like the comment where he says “he’s not dumb” because he has some vague awareness that the notion of calling a Jew anti-Semitic is beyond laughable. He’s sorely testing my patience. But I’m trying not to find a reason to ban him.
Yoni, would you like a little cheese and crackers with that whine?
How about a crying towel, Yoni?
On the contrary, Matthew, it is you who have not done your homework – unless, of course, your homework is to study and memorize the hasbara e-mails that are sent out on a regular basis.
The West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza are territories that Israel holds under belligerent occupation. That is their legal status. That makes Israel responsible for the welfare of the civilian population. The blockade is without doubt or question illegal. In addition, there is no doubt or question that the both in its effect and in its intention the blockage is collective punishment. The intention behind the blockage is absolutely clear based on statements from Israeli officials, including the infamous one about putting the Gazans “on a diet”.
If that is the case then Israel is required to remove Hamas from power.
Why Yoni, I didn’t know you were an aspiring comedian.
If Israel is required to care for the people of Gaza then that requires them to be in control. It would be absurd to claim that Israel is requires to support a regime opposed to it’s own existence!
No one wants Israel to do anything for the people of Gaza. All Israel needs to do is get out of the way & let Gaza be. There are plenty of security regimes that could be implemented to guarantee Israel’s security w/o interfering w. the life or economy of Gaza.
Why should Israel agree to external security forces protecting itself against militant aggression when no security force has yet done so in other similar situations?
In theory, Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon was supposed to leave UN forces in charge of preventing Hezbollah from arming and re-arming. In theory, after the 1948 Israeli-Arab war, Jerusalem was supposed to be internationalized by the UN where all religious freedoms would be enforced (reaffirming the pre-war UN declarations), but religious freedoms were not protected by the UN then either.
Please, describe to me a security implementation that is acceptable in your eyes.
Much more important was the mission of the UN force to prevent attacks by either side on the other. It’s been completely successful in doing so. I guess that shoots down yr theory, doesn’t it?
You’ve cocked up yr history. Jerusalem was supposed to become an international city but this never happened because neither side (that means Israel btw) accepted the idea.
Yoni, if you occupy it, you have to accept responsibility for it. It’s simple. It’s not up to Israel to starve the Gazans simply because the Gazans don’t like Israel. Don’t be childish.
You cannot starve 1.5 million people into submission to your will. When will you fools stop trying?
Mary, you just repeated my point. Taking responsibility for Gaza would include removing Hamas from
Olmert had the chance to do that during Cast Lead. He either chickened out or decided against it for some reason. I believe Israel did intend to topple Hamas, but decided against it at the last minute.
The deadliest thing to the occupation is Palestinian unity, thus, Hamas stays in power in Gaza while Fatah is the ruling party in the West Bank.
Yoni, please get some education regarding international law pertaining to occupation, then come back and try again.
I’m rapidly tiring of this futile, dumb colloquy. As Mary notes, what you claim in yr comment is arrant nonsense. You can think whatever you want about Gaza and what it is and whether the siege is legal or not. But you won’t continue this discussion any further. I’m exercising my editorial discretion. And if you don’t respect this request, you won’t get a 2nd one before either yr privileges are restricted or yr comments are deleted.
This is a subject that has been discussed, debated and resolved to my satisfation long ago in the past at this blog. If you want to reopen it, you’ll have to do so elsewhere. Understand me and understand me well.
I must’ve missed the declaration of war. Can you cite a source for that? Israel may deem Gaza a hostile entity and its blockage legal, but Israel isn’t the only part who gets to determine whether it’s acts pass muster under international law. I’ve not seen a single truly independent expert on international law agree with your or Israel’s definition. After this debacle, the few who did agree are rethinking their former support I am sure.
You don’t need a declaration of war to be at a de facto state of war. Perhaps this is too black and white, but it seems to me that one is either at war or peace. Is it not clear that Israel is certainly not in a state of peace with Gaza or the West Bank? If it was, would there be a ‘Peace Process?’
(Also, given that a Blockade is an Act of War, I’m pretty sure there is a war.)
If this has been debated and discussed and resolved, can’t you just link me to the previous argument? You, Mary, and Shirin have all had this opportunity, but chose to brazenly chastise me instead.
I get the feeling that either you are so used to crazy pro-Israel extremists that you can’t conceive of someone holding a legitimate counter-view to your own trying to figure out what’s going on, or you yourselves have become the other crazy, anti-Israel extreme.
You must’ve missed the Cold War. Or perhaps you’re too young to remember it.
Ah, so you accept that the Gaza siege is an act of war by Israel against Gaza, & use this “fact” to claim that Israel is justified in blockading Gaza. That’s a bit tautological isn’t it? But the problem is that Gaza never declared war on Israel, so there is no formal state of war & hence no justified siege.
So here’s the deal…the next time you try to continue this line of argument the comment is disappeared. Comprende? A nice request didn’t work as it usually doesn’t with nudniks like you. So we’ll have to move to tough love to combat yr compulsion to do just the opposite of what you’re asked.
“given that a Blockade is an Act of War, I’m pretty sure there is a war.”
So much fallacious logic, so little time! This one is a textbook example of the childish fallacy known as begging the question, aka circular argument. It isn’t even a little bit subtle.
I just wanted to thank you for this wonderfully inspiring site. Keep up the good work. Open minds are the best place to find peace…
It is Israel that is at war with Gaza (or as you call it “A foreign entity,”)
A group of warship commanders in reserve in the IDF sent the following protest letter to Netanyahu about the Marmara attack, requesting that there will be an external investigation of the affair:
OMG! …exclusion zone AROUND Israel? HI-larious, if not so tragically inept…