We've seen the pictures over and over. We see them every few years. Members of the news media wearing flack jackets but standing at a recommended safe distance from actual shelling, their cameras rolling give their reports of the latest barrage of rockets fired into Israel by Hamas from Gaza and the latest on Israeli retaliation and its aftermath and are on the scene quickly to record the carnage, the pained faces and the destruction.
What they never get to is the truth as if they are actually afraid to ask the right questions, the most important questions. The questions are there to be asked but they never ask them.
This was apparent a few days ago as CNN showed a home in Gaza damaged by a nearby Israeli missile strike and the Palestinian woman who lived in the home saying to the journalist and the camera, "what did we do to deserve this"?
It was the single most telling and important question of the conflict and one that had an answer. But the reporter on the scene didn't answer her question when the reporter clearly could have.
What is so poignant and important about the Palestinian woman's question of "what did we do to deserve this"? is that it was clear by her question that she didn't know. She seemed to not know that Hamas initiated the conflict and caused the retaliation by firing rockets into Israeli civilian populations, into apartment buildings, into homes and have tried to hit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Palestinian woman gave every indication that she didn't know.
If she didn't know, it would have said a great deal about Hamas and their control over the news media and the free flow of what information gets to the Palestinian people. But the reporter could have told her. And the reporter could have asked the woman some critical questions.
The CNN reporter could have asked if she knew about the rockets Hamas had launched into Israel. The reporter could have asked her if she held Hamas responsible for the damage to her home and what the Palestinian people are now going through because of the rocket attacks by Hamas.
Whatever her answers would have been, they would have been crucial to understanding just what the real issues are regarding this outbreak for Palestinians living in Gaza. It would have been crucial to know whether this woman supported Hamas and their attacks or not because it would have given insight into how much support from Palestinians in the street Hamas really has for its actions and whether Palestinians in Gaza are willing to pay the price for Hamas rocket attacks.
If, upon learning of the Hamas rocket attacks, the woman did blame Hamas or felt they bore some responsibility for the retaliatory Israeli missiles coming into Gaza including the one that hit her home, it would have an enormous effect on how third parties and the rest of the world would view the conflict and whether Hamas is truly acting in the name of the people who elected them.
On the other hand if the woman said she did support the rocket attacks by Hamas the next logical question would have been, " and did you expect Israel to just absorb the rocket attacks and do nothing to retaliate or try and stop them"?
In the unlikely event the woman said yes ( unlikely, since if she had known about the rocket attacks in the first place she never would have asked " what did we do to deserve this"?) then the rest of the world would know what Israel is up against and be clear about the will of the Palestinian people in Gaza.
In either instance, the CNN reporter didn't ask, didn't inform her or answer her questions about why her home was damaged. The reporter could have told the woman that what happened to her house was the byproduct of Israeli retaliation for the Hamas rocket attacks into Israel, initiated by Hamas. The woman could have been asked her feelings about that and did she support what Hamas did and does she understand now why her home was damaged.
Instead all the CNN reporter wanted to bring you were pictures. Pictures of grief. Pictures that say war is bad as if anyone needed to be told, and using pictures of this woman's grief and the grief and damage of those on the Israeli side brought to you for your viewing pleasure.
Does it really take more courage to ask a question in Gaza than to put on a flak jacket? Apparently it does.
NOTE: an addendum to CNN's coverage: Suzanne Malvaeaux was her usual smiling self during her reporting of the Gaza conflict seemingly unable to contain herself and was especially smiley promoting a Piers Morgan interview to be aired with Shimon Peres on the Gaza crisis. Anyone watching Malveaux's smiling coverage might rightly ask what she thinks is so funny. Malveaux who can never stop smiling no matter what she is reporting is one of those TV journalists who seem to think she is always making an audition tape. Someone should remind her she got the job.