CBS Paints Palestinians as Victims of 'Extreme,' 'Hardline' and 'Militant' Israelis

As the morning and evening newscasts on CBS have reported on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's upcoming plan to seek statehood recognition from the United Nations on Friday, correspondent Mark Phillips has appeared three times filing reports which have portrayed Palestinians as victims of Israeli extremism and "militant" Jewish settlers, while ignoring Palestinian extremism and refusal to meet for talks in recent years despite overtures from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Tuesday's CBS Evening News, Phillips recounted clashes between Palestinians and Jewish settlers, and seemed to suggest that the Israeli military had fired tear gas at the wrong group as he noted that Arabs were subjected to the anti-riot measure. Phillips:

 

Rocks and tear gas were already in the air again in the West Bank as hardline Israeli settlers - who reject any suggestion of Palestinian statehood - attacked the village of Asira al-Qibliyah. Israeli troops moved in to keep the antagonists apart, they said, which seemed to mean firing tear gas cannisters at the Arabs. One Palestinian youth was hit in the head and had to be taken to the hospital.

The CBS correspondent went on to paint "militant" Israeli settlers as a perpetual danger for Palestinians without noting any examples of ongoing Palestinian violence, and included a soundbite of one Palestinian man who brought up the possibility they might be killed by Jewish settlers:

MARK PHILLIPS: The villagers who live near the more militant Israeli settlements are often the first ones to get hit when feelings are inflamed. Are you going to stay here or are you going to leave? What will you do?

ABDUL QADER MACHLOUF, RESIDENT OF ASIRA AL-QIBLIYAH: We will stay here. If they kill us, we will stay here.

Without noting the Palestinian Authority's role in blocking negotiations or the fact that the Israeli government agreed to plans for a two-state solution three times in the past decade which offered up not only the Gaza Strip and nearly all of the West Bank but even East Jerusalem for a Palestinian state only to be rejected by Palestinian leaders - Phillips went on to recount Palestinian complaints about negotiations that "go nowehere.": "The Palestinians have had enough, they say, of endless demonstrations and negotiations with Israel that go nowhere. The statehood gambit is their attempt to change the political landscape."

On Monday's The Early Show, Phillips referred to the "frustration" of Palestinians who have been unsuccessfully using demonstrations and "other means" for decades to obtain a Palestinian state, as the CBS correspondent managed to avoid mentioning that those "other means" have included terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, such as suicide bombings in restaurants:

For decades here, they've been demonstrating and using other means to try to create their own state on the West Bank lands, the Palestinian lands, but that has ended up - at least until now - in frustration.

He also referred to the "extreme" opposition of Israelis: "There has been extreme opposition to it on the Israeli side - including, of course, from the settlers movement - several hundred thousand of which live on the Palestinian side of the line."

And on Sunday's CBS Evening News, which was preempted in some markets, Phillips had again referred to failed negotiations without noting the Palestinians' recent refusal to agree to talks unless the Israeli government halted construction within the borders of already existing Jewish settlements:

PHILLIPS: But for the Palestinians, who have seen negotiations stall time and again while Israeli settlement in the West Bank increases, the statehood gambit is a way to try to break the log jam.

WALID NIJEM, RAMALLAH CAFE OWNER: This makes a big difference for Palestinians. It's just a, the last resort. There is nothing else they could do.

The CBS correspondent also seemed to forget that it was Jordan that used to control the West Bank - after seizing it in 1948 - before Israel took control in 1967, as Phillips referred to what "used to be the Palestinian side." Phillips: "It's a proposed border rejected as indefensible by the Israelis, half a million of whom live in what used to be the Palestinian side of the line."

He concluded the report by relaying Palestinian assertions suggesting a similarity between Palestinian actions against Israel and the Arab Spring demonstrations and revolts that brought down authoritarian regimes in several Arab countries this year. Phillips:

The Palestinians have looked around the Middle East this summer, and they said they've learned something - that decisive action in Libya and Egypt, in Tunisia, can produce dramatic results. And so they've decided on a bold move of their own. They want to negotiate, they say, but state to state. Mark Phillips, CBS News, Ramallah.

During its coverage of the Gaza War in late 2008 and early 2009, CBS had been especially biased against Israel compared to the other broadcast networks, as the CBS Evening News ran a misleading piece suggesting that the Israeli military had used a "banned weapon" against Gaza civilians, while another report fretted that Palestinian students would have to delay graduation after israeli airstrikes on Islamic University without noting Hamas's use of the school for producing some of the rockets it was firing into Israel.

Additionally, the network gave significant air time to a Norwegian doctor who had a history of expressing agreement with the 9/11 attacks, treating him as if he were an unbiased observer as he worked in a hospital in Gaza. CBS also gave the most attention to complaints about the Israeli blockade on Gaza while giving the least attention to aid shipments the Israeli military allowed into the city.

Below are complete transcripts of the relevant reports from the Sunday, September 18, CBS Evening News, the Monday, September 19, The Early Show, and the Tuesday, September 20, CBS Evening News, with critical portions in bold:

#From the Sunday, September 18, CBS Evening News :

RUSS MITCHELL: American diplomats are running out of time in their effort to dissuade Palestinian leaders from seeking a U.N. vote on their bid for statehood. A Security Council vote could come within days. Mark Phillips is in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

MARK PHILLIPS: The regular demonstrations may look familiar, but this is a fateful week in the Palestinians try to change the rules of the game. The new banner being waved in Palestinian towns does not just call for an end to the Israeli occuption, it calls for the recognition by the U.N. of a Palestinian state now, even before the details that have stymied negotiations for years are worked out. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has resisted intense diplomatic arm-twisting from the United States, and insists he will go ahead and make the statehood application at the U.N. this week, an application that U.S. has described as a distraction from real negotiations, in which it has promised to use its Security Council veto to stop. But for the Palestinians, who have seen negotiations stall time and again while Israeli settlement in the West Bank increases, the statehood gambit is a way to try to break the log jam.

WALID NIJEM, RAMALLAH CAFE OWNER: This makes a big difference for Palestinians. It's just a, the last resort. There is nothing else they could do.

PHILLIPS: The statehood claim is based on the 1967 lines, drawn before the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in the Six Day War. It's a proposed border rejected as indefensible by the Israelis, half a million of whom live in what used to be the Palestinian side of the line. And now, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also rejected American advice and will go to the U.N. as well to put the Israeli case.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Now I know that the General Assembly is not where Israel gets a fair hearing, I know that the automatic majorities there always rush to condemn Israel and twist truth beyond recognation, but I've decided to go there anyway.

PHILLPS: The Palestinians have looked around the Middle East this summer, and they said they've learned something - that decisive action in Libya and Egypt, in Tunisia, can produce dramatic results. And so they've decided on a bold move of their own. They want to negotiate, they say, but state to state. Mark Phillips, CBS News, Ramallah.

#From the Monday, September 19, The Early Show on CBS:

JEFF GLOR: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is in New York this morning. This week, he will ask the U.N. to recognize a Palestinian state, something both Israeli's prime minister and the White House oppose. CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips is in Ramallah this morning on the West Bank. Mark, good morning to you.

MARK PHILLIPS: Good morning, Jeff. Well, it might look like business as usual on the streets of Ramallah this morning, but it's anything but business as usual in the ongoing conflict - at least diplomatically - between the Palestinians and Israelis. For decades here, they've been demonstrating and using other means to try to create their own state on the West Bank lands, the Palestinian lands, but that has ended up - at least until now - in frustration. Now Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has decided - against very strict arm-twisting from the United States and from Israel  - that he is going to go to the U.N. to demand statehood for Palestine now, even before such incidentals as the territory and the borders and other modalities of any potential country might be worked out. Now, that is a very risky proposition that he's taking. There has been extreme opposition to it on the Israeli side - including, of course, from the settlers movement - several hundred thousand of which live on the Palestinian side of the line. And now, israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu - says that he, too, is going to New York to put the Israeli case. His promises - at least diplomatically - to open a whole new front in this conflict, and, Jeff, to be a fateful week.

#From the Tuesday, September 20, CBS Evening News :

SCOTT PELLEY: The issue dominating the session of the U.N. General Assembly is the Middle East. On Friday, Palestnian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to ask the Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state. The U.S. has threatened a veto. On the West Bank, Israeli and Palestinian protesters went at each other today, and Mark Phillips is there.

MARK PHILLIPS: The chair the Palestinians unveiled in Ramallah today, symbolic of the full statehood seat they want at the U.N., was a big one, and so was the touble it's already causing. Rocks and tear gas were already in the air again in the West Bank as hardline Israeli settlers - who reject any suggestion of Palestinian statehood - attacked the village of Asira al-Qibliyah. Israeli troops moved in to keep the antogonists apart, they said, which seemed to mean firing tear gas cannisters at the Arabs. One Palestinian youth was hit in the head and had to be taken to the hospital. The villagers who live near the more militant Israeli settlements are often the first ones to get hit when feelings are inflamed. Are you going to stay here or are you going to leave? What will you do?

ABDUL QADER MACHLOUF, RESIDENT OF ASIRA AL-QIBLIYAH: We will stay here. If they kill us, will stay here.

PHILLIPS: Across the West Bank, settlers were on the march, strutting their warning that whatever the demands that Palestinians might make at the U.N. for them to leave, they aren't going anywhere. The statehood bid hasn't even happened yet, and already tensions on the West Bank are rising. And the fear is that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinian authorities can keep incidents like today's from escalating out of control. The Palestinians have had enough, they say, of endless demonstrations and negotiations with Israel that go nowhere. The statehood gambit is their attempt to change the political landscape. How does statehood change the Israeli attitude (INAUDIBLE)?-

MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, PALESTINIAN NATIONAL INITIATIVE: Because we will not play their game. We will stop playing their game.

PHILLIPS: But the new game may be a dangerous one. Mark Phillips, CBS News, Asira al-Qibliyah, on the West Bank.