Complaining Without Context
CNN's Cal Perry delivers an emotional report from Tyre, Lebanon;
Standing in front of this 8-year-old boy lying in a hospital bed, the "conflict in the Middle East" and the "cost of war" seem endless and suffocating. His pain cannot possibly be imagined as he shakes uncontrollably in and out of shock. He has blood coming from his eyes. . . .
His name is Mahmood Monsoor and he is horribly burned. In the hospital bed next to him is his 8-month-old sister, Maria--also burned.
Their family, Perry reports, was "fleeing the fighting--trying to get north, waving white flags, when an Israeli bomb or missile slammed into their car." Two other siblings are in surgery, their father was killed, and their mother is hysterical:
The city of Tyre has been enduring stories like this for more than a week. Buildings are crumpled; those who have not left are hiding in basements. Those who dare to pack into cars run the risk of ending up like the Monsoor family. Some who move north die on the road. Some stay in basements, and die there. Others hope against hope that the bombs will fall elsewhere--missing them.
Politics creeps into the ward like the blood that runs on the floors. "Clearly he is Hezbollah," says one of the doctors outside the room--sarcastically referring to 8-year-old Mahmood, whose screams can be heard from the hallway. His screams now blend with the wails of his mother, matching the baby's cries.
Perry concludes by suggesting an equivalence between Israel and Hezbollah:
Today, as I finish I am sitting in the same spot and the shells are still falling. Hezbollah rockets are firing toward northern Israel. I can imagine another reporter, in another flak jacket, standing over an 8-year old Israeli boy.
For the context that Perry misses, we turn to Ha'aretz's Ze'ev Schiff:
We can say without a doubt that the war of attrition against the city of Haifa and its residents is a tale of two cities: Tyre in Lebanon versus Haifa in Israel. The Hezbollah unit deployed in Tyre and its environs has been bombarding Haifa with Syrian rockets and upgraded Iranian-made Katyushas. If this unit is not destroyed, it will continue to target Haifa.
The difference, of course, is that Hezbollah is deliberately targeting civilians in Haifa, whereas Israel is accidentally harming civilians in the course of protecting its own people from a violent threat. In fact, Hezbollah is deliberately endangering civilians in Tyre, too, by using them as human shields:
In one known case, a bomb struck a basement and killed those inside. Later, it turned out that of the 32 casualties, mostly dead, 11 were armed Hezbollah militants. The basement served Hezbollah and civilians that sought cover. In the current fighting there is no alternative but to convince the citizens of the city to leave, and make it easy to do so. But it is unclear whether Hezbollah will allow the evacuation of civilians from Tyre.
Israel, unlike Hezbollah, is constrained by human decency. By using civilians as shields, Hezbollah hopes to limit the Jewish state's military options. Hezbollah wins either way, since if Israeli strikes do hurt or kill civilians, the international media, including CNN, depict this as the result of Israel's, rather than Hezbollah's, brutality.
A report like Cal Perry's, in other words, provides Hezbollah with an incentive to endanger Lebanese civilians further. CNN, then, must bear some degree of moral culpability for the suffering of Lebanon's population.
Update: Coincidentally, John Hawkins has created a quiz based on this very concept.