|Andrea Koppel, CNN"s New Israel Basher
I am attending the Israel Venture Association annual conference in Tel Aviv and was introduced to Andrea Koppel from CNN as we were waiting for Prime Minister Sharon and Secretary of State Powell to finish their discussion Sunday evening at our hotel.
While we were chatting, an American-born Israeli joined us to tell Andrea about his perception of media distortion in that the press that stresses moral equivalence between Israeli civilian deaths caused by Palestinian terror and Palestinian civilian deaths caused by Israeli military actions. He argued that Israel has tried to engage in a peace process since Camp David and has been double-crossed over and over by the Palestinian Authority. Further, he argued the civilian deaths caused by Palestinians are intentional, whereas the deaths caused by Israel are mostly the tragic, unintentional results caused by Israel trying to defend itself.
Andrea replied, "So when Israeli soldiers slaughter civilians in Jenin, that is not equivalent?"
Israeli: "What are your sources? Were you in Jenin? How exactly do you know there was a slaughter?"
Andrea: "I just spoke with my colleagues who were there, and they told me of the slaughter."
Israeli: "Did they actually see the shooting, the bodies?"
Andrea: "Palestinians told us about the slaughter."
Israeli: "And you believe them without evidence. Could they possibly be lying and distorting facts."
Andrea: "Oh, so now they are all just lying??" [sic]
The Israeli became emotional in describing that his children are afraid, his friends have been murdered, and if this goes on, "We could lose our lives or we could lose our country."
Andrea, "Yes, you will lose your country."
At this point, I interrupted the two of them and asked Andrea Koppel, "Did I just hear you correctly-- that you believe the current crisis will lead to the destruction of the State of Israel?"
Andrea: "Yes, I believe we are now seeing the beginning of the end of Israel."
Needless to say, I was stunned to hear a senior CNN correspondent express this extreme "world-view". It was very disturbing for obvious reasons, and I was particularly upset by her extraordinary geo-political conclusion that the State of Israel is bound for destruction. I asked her how she came this conclusion-- what was her background scholarship in Middle East history or military geo-strategy?
Andrea: "Well, you know, I took a course on the Middle East when I was at Middlebury College, and our professor assigned us five books on the history of the conflict. So I first read a book written by an Israeli, and I thought all the land belongs to the Israelis. Then I read another book by a Palestinian and thought all the land belongs to the Palestinians. There are many points of view, and it is just so complex!"
Her background scholarship and intellectual depth on the subject duly noted, I turned to consider what to do next.
1) Complain to CNN management? (see below)
2) Expose this to other press (say Fox or 60 Minutes, letters to the editor?)
3) Try to educate her towards a more realistic understanding of Israel"s geo-political position?
4) Tell the Israeli Foreign Ministry and let them deal with it?
5) Do nothing? (I hope not)
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I don"t know what do to about this, but I thought you may have the right suggestion. Feel free to forward this to your family and friends.
David J. Blumberg