CNN's Cuomo Frets Over Image of 'Strong Israel Killing Civilians in Gaza'

CNN’s Chris Cuomo was shocked that the death toll from the latest violence between Israel and Hamas was disproportionately on the Palestinian side. On the July 14 edition of New Day, the host implied that the perception was bad for Israel because they are causing high levels of casualties among Palestinian civilians, while the Israelis have suffered comparatively less.

In an interview with CNN Middle East analyst Michael Oren, Cuomo posed this question: “To the United States audience, they see this: strong Israel killing civilians in Gaza. We most often see the human toll on the Palestinian side. What do you offer as perspective as to who is being attacked here and what is continuing the cycle of violence?” [MP3 audio here; video below]

The implication was that the New Day host believes Israel is responsible for the “continuing cycle of violence” that has occurred between the state of Israel and Hamas over the decades. Never mind the fact that the terrorist group has launched rockets into Israel for decades, prompting Israel to build the so called Iron Dome defense system which has greatly limited civilian casualties.

Oren seemed to reject the idea, asserting that Israel’s response to attacks was no different than how the United States would operate:

You can imagine if hundreds – literally hundreds of millions of Americans, more than 200 million Americans would be under shell fire, the people of the United States would expect their government to do something about it and do something about it very forcefully, even if there weren't a large number of casualties. Israelis, you can ask the average Israeli on the street, they’re not gonna apologize for the fact that they haven't had more of their citizens killed. Israel invests very, very heavily in civil defense and it invested very, very heavily in the Iron Dome. On the Palestinian side, on the Hamas side, they've invested only in offensive capabilities. That's why there's been such a widespread – a much more higher level of casualties on the Palestinian side.

Credit Oren for taking Cuomo’s argument apart piece by piece and giving the appropriate context that the New Day host decided not to offer. The desire from much of the liberal media to blame Israel for conflict in the Middle East is tiring and, oftentimes, simply inaccurate.  

The relevant portion of the transcript is below:

CNN
New Day
July 14, 2014
6:04 a.m. Eastern

CHRIS CUOMO, host: Karl, it’s a very important point. These people are leaving but where will they go. Let’s try and get some answers here. Turning to Michael Oren, he’s a CNN Mideast analyst and a former Israeli ambassador to the United States. First, Michael, thank you very much for joining us. I know that you've had to take to the safe room in your home because of the uptick in violence there. How are you doing?

MICHAEL OREN, CNN Mideast analyst: I'm doing fine, Chris, thank you. Good morning, Kate and Michaela. Coming to you today from Sderot along the border with Gaza, the most shelled and rocketed city in the state of Israel, has more bomb shelters per capita probably than any city in the world. It's sort of a symbol of every fear from Israel, that the entire country could become like Sderot. Hamas now firing rockets as far north as Haifa, but it’s also a symbol for Israeli courage, for sticking to our guns and not being chased away. It is harrowing, and while the Palestinian civilians have suffered significant casualties on their side, on the Israeli side you have casualties you don't see, the trauma, the fear, and the disruptions of daily life, including in my own daily life. I live in Tel Aviv and we've been under shell fire every day.

[...]

CUOMO: Two major obstacles with that. While those are sound ideas and I appreciate you for offering them up this morning, first when you look at Syria as a model, not only do we have a high degree of deception by the Syrian authorities with what they're telling us versus what is found by inspectors, but the mass exodus, as you well know, one of the biggest movements of humanity in recent history fleeing from Syria right now with very little chance of finding a home anywhere nearby. You're going to have the same problem in Gaza as we were hearing Karl Penhaul tell us, there is nowhere for them to go, so how do you deal with getting good information from Hamas, how do you deal with the mass exodus of people?

OREN: Well, in Syria the case is there's huge fighting going on there, as many as 200,000 people killed there. So people are fleeing – hundreds of thousands of people, actually millions fleeing the fighting. If the fighting ends in Gaza, then the residents of Gaza can go back to their homes will solve that problem. That is what happened in previous rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas in 2012 and in 2008 and '09, there were exoduses of Palestinian civilians from their homes, they came back after a ceasefire. That would be the goal here, too, to restore calm, but also not to go back to that old status quo where every two years you got a round of fighting, but to create a new and more stable background. And uh, I think this crisis perhaps offers that type of opportunity.

CUOMO: Now, a big political question will be does the U.N. – does the U.S. have the strength to broker peace the way it has in the past, no longer having Egypt with Morsi as a friendly to intervene in the situation. Will el-Sisi be able to have the same effect? That’s all the inside politics.  But Michael, let's end on something else here. To the United States audience, they see this: strong Israel killing civilians in Gaza. We most often see the human toll on the Palestinian side. What do you offer as perspective as to who is being attacked here and what is continuing the cycle of violence?

OREN: Well, just quickly – on your point about Egypt, this is a great opportunity for Egypt, too. There's been a strained relationship between the Sisi government in Egypt and the Obama administration about the way the Egyptians came to power, whether it was a military coup or not. Now is the chance for the Egyptian government to prove that you really need Egypt in the Middle East and the U.S.-Egyptian relationship is crucial for stability here. As for your second point, Chris, this is a country 7.5 million people. All of a sudden you're hit by what is now over 1,000 rockets over the course of a week. You can imagine if hundreds – literally hundreds of millions of Americans, more than 200 million Americans under would be under shell fire, the people of the United States would expect their government to do something about it and do something about it very forcefully, even if there weren't a large number of casualties. Israelis, you can ask the average Israeli on the street, they’re not gonna apologize for the fact they haven't had more of their citizens killed. Israel invests very, very heavily in civil defense and invested very, very heavily in the iron dome. On the Palestinian side, on the Hamas side, they've invested only in offensive capabilities. That's why there's been such a widespread – a much more higher level of casualties on the Palestinian side. So there's a disparity, it's going to cause a public diplomacy challenge for Israel. But better to have the public diplomacy challenge than to have hundreds of casualties, including fatalities.
 

Connor Williams
Connor Williams
Connor Williams is a contributing writer for NewsBusters.