CNN’s Ben Wedeman looked exhausted as he fielded questions from an anchor in the United States in late November 2023. He had just reported on the deaths of two Palestinian boys in the West Bank, one of whom, a fourteen-year old, reportedly bled to death because Israeli troops refused to allow a Palestinian ambulance to reach him.
The anchor naïvely asked whether this reflected an increase in violence in the area. You could almost see Wedeman grit his teeth as he brusquely responded: No, this was not unusual; more than 250 Palestinians had been killed in the West Bank since October 7 in escalating attacks by Israeli settlers and the military, and thousands more had been killed or injured over the past decade. The veteran correspondent restrained himself from adding, “You’d know that if you had been paying attention”, but the expression on his face telegraphed the message loud and clear.
That exchange epitomized the sense of exasperation bordering on hopelessness felt by many of us who have reported on the region’s seemingly endless conflicts.
Forty years ago, I stood in front of the mound of rubble that minutes before had been the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. The four-story building had been leveled by a suicide truck bomber. As our cameras rolled on October 23, 1983, shocked and wounded survivors scrambled to dig out their comrades. In all, 241 American servicemen died that day.
Back home, Americans watching our coverage asked, “Why?” The answer lay in the fatal collision of the same actors in the drama now playing out in Gaza: Israel, the Palestinians, Iran, and a U.S. administration that sees the Middle East only through a black-and-white lens.
Read the full article at The Cairo Review of International Affairs.