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May 25, 2023 10:45 am

Selective Reporting and Misrepresentation Cast Israel as the Villain in CNN Article

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avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue


A demonstrator holding a Palestinian flag attends a protest against Jewish settlements, in the town of Biddy in the West Bank July 6, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman.

CNN’s latest thinly-disguised attack on Israel came in the form of a feature piece about the Palestinian-American authors who are “bringing their culture to the heart of children’s books.”

The article — written by Palestinian-Egyptian journalist Alaa Elassar — includes several US-based authors discussing how they are using the power of literature to “teach the next generation in diaspora (sic) about their unique culture and history, and help children of all backgrounds understand what it means to be Palestinian.”

The subtle editorialization of this 2,400-word epic aside, the piece contains several striking misrepresentations.

For example, in one paragraph Elassar claims that in Beit Hanina, a neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem, “public displays of Palestinian identity — even just saying the word Palestine — can land a person in trouble.”

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But displays of Palestinian identity or merely uttering the word “Palestine,” are not likely to land a person in trouble in Beit Hanina, a Palestinian-Arab community of more than 33,000 that reportedly contains just two Jewish households.

Indeed, a Google search of the words “Beit Hanina Palestinian flag” brings up dozens of results, including images of protesters waving Palestinian flags in the neighborhood’s streets while Israeli police look on.

It should also be pointed out that there has been some confusion surrounding the legality of flying Palestinian flags following remarks made by Israeli national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir earlier this year in which he described flying the PLO banner as tantamount to supporting “terrorism” and told police to remove them from public spaces.

However, Israeli law is clear that Palestinian flags are not outlawed, with police and soldiers only having permission to remove them where there is deemed to be a threat to public order, such as a riot.

Even the most basic facts are muddled in the article, including a photo caption that misidentifies the Dome of the Rock atop the Temple Mount as the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

(HonestReporting alerted CNN to the error, which was subsequently corrected.)

Finally, Elassar’s emotive description of the reality of daily life for Palestinian children is interesting.

In one passage, she describes how children living in the “shadow of military watchtowers… learn words ‘occupation’ and ‘refugee’ not long after ‘mama’ and ‘baba.’”

But we wonder how moved CNN readers would be if they knew that Palestinian youngsters are also learning words like “martyr” and “jihad,” thanks to attending the Palestinian Authority-operated terror training camps for kids.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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