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October 29, 2003
CNN Can't Understand Linear Time

In an article on a proposed new cease-fire, CNN doesn't seem to understand simple concepts of time and causality:

In a previous cease-fire -- declared unilaterally by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- the militant offshoot of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement -- ended August 21. The groups, all of three of which have been declared terrorist groups by the U.S. State Department, declared the seven-week-old cease-fire over after a senior Hamas leader was killed in an Israeli missile attack. The Israeli attack followed a terrorist bus bombing in Jerusalem that killed 20 people. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bus bombing.

So Hamas and Islamic Jihad declared the cease-fire over after the Israelis killed a senior Hamas leader. But the Israelis killed him after the bus bombing that killed 20 Israeli civilians, and that bombing was done by ... Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Why does CNN twist itself into knots trying to explain the time sequence? Because if they didn't, it would read like this:

"The previous cease-fire, initiated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad and honored by the Israelis, was shattered by Hamas and Islamic Jihad when they blew up a bus in Jerusalem, killing 20 Israelis. The Israelis responded by killing a senior Hamas leader, after which Hamas and Islamic Jihad publicly stated that they had no intention of honoring the cease-fire."

Why is that so hard to write? Oh, because it doesn't make it look like the failure of the previous cease-fire was Israel's fault. Silly me, I forget that CNN must stay true to its meme. Of course, with the media twisting event sequences like this, Israel would have to be insane to blithely enter a cease-fire without some solid assurances of weapons removal. Otherwise, when Hamas blows up a pizzeria with 50 people in it the next time, the bombing will be Israel's fault for defending themselves by attacking the attackers. Why bother? Just keep attacking them anyway -- it seems to be working.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 29, 2003 10:47 AM

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