Bob Schieffer has been gravely misunderstood and misquoted by Palestinians and their sympathizers when in actual fact the ones he maligned were the Israelis: If you listen carefully to the man you will find him concise and to the point, delivering his message clearly in the best of CBS sound-bite traditions. Here is the main message for which he has been maliciously faulted:
In the Middle East, the Palestinian people find themselves in the grip of a terrorist group that has embarked on a strategy to get its own children killed in order to build sympathy for its cause – a strategy that might actually be working at least in some quarters.
And yet many listeners think he is speaking of Palestinian self-abuse despite the clear giveaway. After all, who holds the Palestinians in his grip but Israel? Obviously Bob is talking about Israel. And you think he is slandering the Palestinians! No wonder he thinks that “we are in the midst of a world gone mad.”
Let me now guide you through the man’s statement a word at a time: To contextualize the message for Americans, whom we know are all pro-Palestinian, he starts with a familiar concept, the Middle East. That should be sufficient, Bob in his wisdom-fraught mind must think, to arouse their interest and set their senses on edge for the coming blitz. After all, who but our Palestinian allies have gotten us involved in our glorious crusades in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and the Ukraine? [Are all these countries in the Middle East, I wonder? Who is going to bother asking anyway? Let us just finish the thought.] Think of how profitable it all has been for our energy moguls. And the mere mention of “the Middle East” will undoubtedly evoke tender sentiments of sad longing for the lost millions of lives in those crusades. So much life has been wasted that Bob hasn’t slept well for years, and he looks it. So what if the lives are mostly those of non-Americans? That is Bob’s central message: We all are human brothers and sisters. The life of a Syrian farmer in the Beqa’a Valley, of an Afghan shepherd in Peshawar or of a Palestinian fisherman in Gaza, of any Moslem anywhere for that matter, is equally dear to Bob’s Orient-soaked heart.
Now that he has put his millions of mesmerized audience on edge, Bob has to sooth their nerves with a calming image they all love, that of “Palestinians.” What better word to arouse his American viewers’ tender sentiments. He knows his central message will be appreciated by the multitude of anti-Semitic pro-Palestinians across the land. Every American across the wide spectrum of Jew-haters and self-hating Jews viewing him on TV will be tantalized by the expectation of what comes next. Now is the time for Bob to release his heavy dose of venom against Israel and its backers. Bob calls the entire pack of Israelis and their financial and weaponry backers “a terrorist group.” True, he doesn’t call Israelis by name. But he leaves no doubt about whom he means: He exaggerates of course: He accuses Israel and its backers of holding the Palestinians in their grip for the mere act of controlling their land, sea and air space even when the Israelis go to the trouble of calculating the Palestinian children’s caloric survival requirements and permitting that to seep across the borders. He then claims that Israel “has embarked on a strategy to get its own children killed in order to build sympathy for its cause.”
With what more can you accuse Israel, Bob? Israel has built the most moral army in the world, as we all know. It sends its children to defend its innocent citizens. True some of those children die. But they take their revenge at a high rate, thanks to the testing of the new weaponry that their fighter-bombers with their sulfur payloads, their helicopters, their gunboats and their tanks spew. The Palestinian death rate in 2008-09 ran at one hundred to one Israeli soldier. And currently it is averaging some 20 Palestinians to one Israeli soldier. The high rate of collateral damage of civilians including children of 80% should be sufficient to let Bob realize that Israel’s children are not sent to die simply “in order to build sympathy for its cause.” You can’t level such an accusation against Israel when it passes no chance to levy a heavy price for the killing of its children. I will forgive you, Bob, for pointing accurately that Israel does willfully send its children to die on occasion. But it does its utmost to guarantee their safety, witness its Dahiya principle by which any area, residential or otherwise, from which its boys are fired at will be considered a military target regardless of the consequences. The principle is not even debated anymore. It simply is given as the justification for its repeated elimination of whole families, a dozen or two relatives at a time, and for targeting playgrounds, mosques, clinics, hospitals and UN schools. Bob, what more atrocities you want Israel to commit before you stop making your fowl accusation against it?
You know what Bob? I think you are full of shit.
(This article was previously published at Hatim Kanaaneh’s blog A Doctor in Galilee)