Inside the Middle East
October 30, 2009
Posted: 909 GMT

All of us at CNN are counting down the days to the launch of our newest bureau and production facility. After Atlanta, London and Hong Kong – Abu Dhabi is set to be our fourth broadcast hub when it launches on November 3rd. We will have a nightly newscast from there called Prism hosted by Stan Grant so be sure to tune in!

We'll bring you a behind-the-scenes look at how the bureau came together on the next IME airing November 4. Meanwhile, here's a sneak preview!

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Filed under: Abu Dhabi •CNN Coverage •Media

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Mohammed   October 30th, 2009 11:58 am ET

Congratulation! this is really a huge step for CNN in the region. but to be frank I always thought it is going to be Cairo!!!

miriam   November 1st, 2009 3:01 pm ET

There have been numerous Formula One Grand Prix winners this season but today's race was the first I saw as breaking news on CNNI TV ticker. The winner wasn't even the champion.
This wouldn't have anything to do with drawing more attention to Abu Dhabi would it?

Anonymous Friend   November 1st, 2009 6:35 pm ET

The words “Jewish” and “terrorist” are not easily uttered together by Israelis. But just occasionally, such as last week when one of the country’s leading intellectuals was injured by a pipe bomb placed at the front door of his home, they find themselves with little choice.

The target of the attack was 73-year-old Zeev Sternhell, a politics professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem specialising in European fascism and a prominent supporter of the left-wing group Peace Now.

Shortly after the explosion, police found pamphlets nearby offering 1.1 million shekels ($300,000) to anyone assassinating a Peace Now leader. The movement’s most visible activity has been tracking and criticising the growth of the settlements in the West Bank.

Mr Sternhell, whose leg was injured in the blast, warned that this attack might mark the “collapse of democracy” in Israel. He has earned the enmity of the religious far-right by justifying the targeting of settlers by Palestinians in their resistance to occupation.

Earlier in the year the professor was awarded the Israel Prize for political science. The settlers’ own news agency, Arutz Sheva, ran a story at the time headlined “Israel Prize to go to Pro-Terror, Pro-Civil War Prof”.

The shock provoked in Israel by the bombing partly reflected the rarity of such attacks. Most Israelis regard the use of violence by Jews against other Jews as entirely illegitimate, which partly explains the kid-glove approach generally adopted by the security forces when dealing with the settlers.

There are a handful of precedents, however, for these kind of attacks. In 1983, Emil Grunzweig was killed when a right-winger hurled a hand grenade into a crowd of Peace Now activists marching against Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. And 12 years later Israelis were left reeling when a religious settler, Yigal Amir, shot dead their prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin.

Violence directed at the Jewish Left typically peaks during periods when the religious far-right believes a deal with the Palestinians may be close at hand. Rabin paid the price for his signing of the Oslo accords. Equally, Mr Sternhell appears to be the address for settler grievances over the government’s ongoing talks with the Palestinians over a partial Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

Certainly, the mood among the religious settlers has grown darker since the disengagement from Gaza three years ago. A significant number subscribe to the belief that, in betraying what they perceive to be the Jewish people’s Biblical birthright to Palestinian territory, the government proved itself unworthy of their loyalty. Others believe that the settlers themselves failed a divine test in not facing down the government and army.

Either way, many far-right settlers are turning their backs on those secular laws that clash with their own convictions. One Israeli observer has noted that these settlers no longer see their chief loyalty to the state of Israel but to the Land of Israel, a land promised by God not politicians.

The pamphlet found near Mr Sternhell’s home, signed by a group called the “Army of Liberators”, read: “The State of Israel has become our enemy.”

The Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police, have a Jewish department dedicated to tracking the activities of Jewish terrorists. Unlike the Shin Bet’s Arab department, however, it is small and underfunded. It has also proved largely ineffectual in dealing with the threat posed by the far-right.

Jewish extremists who attack Israeli soldiers or Palestinians in the occupied territories, openly incite against Palestinians or express unlawful views rarely face charges, even when there is clear evidence of wrongdoing.

The general lawlessness among the West Bank settlers has reached new peaks, underscored this month when settlers from Yitzhar went on what was widely described as a “pogrom” against Palestinians in the neighbouring village of Asira al Qabaliya. The settlers were caught on film firing live ammunition at the villagers, but the police have so far failed to issue indictments.

Also, often forgotten, the so-called Jewish underground has a history of targeting Palestinians inside Israel, including those with citizenship. A car bomb narrowly avoided seriously injuring the wife of Arab Knesset member Issam Makhoul in 2003. Two years later, in the run-up to the Gaza disengagement, a settler-soldier, Natan Zada, shot dead four passengers on a bus to the Israeli Arab city of Shafa’amr.

Groups such as the Temple Mount Faithful, which seek to blow up the mosques of Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock in the Haram al-Sharif of Jerusalem’s Old City so that a third Jewish temple can be built in their place, also face little recourse from the Shin Bet.

By contrast, the Shin Bet’s Arab department runs an extensive network of Palestinian informers in the occupied territories and is reported by human rights groups to use torture to extract information from Palestinian detainees.

Inside Israel, the Arab department regularly investigates Israel’s own Palestinian citizens, especially the Islamic movements over their donations to charities in the occupied territories. It has also been hounding parties like the National Democratic Assembly of Azmi Bishara that demand equal rights.

Like Palestinians in the occupied territories, Palestinian citizens risk being locked up on secret evidence.

Israel’s leading columnist Nahum Barnea noted last week that the Shin Bet’s inability to find and arrest Jewish terrorists stemmed from “deliberate policy” and “emotional obstacles” – his coy way of suggesting that many in the Shin Bet share at least some of the settlers’ values, even if they reject their methods.

Prof Sternhell made much the same point in a radio interview from his hospital bed when he noted that Yitzhak Shamir, when he was prime minister, had defined the Jewish underground as “excellent young men, real patriots”.

In this vacuum of law enforcement, the far-right regularly and openly engages in unlawful activities, often without serious threat of punishment. Many of its leaders, such as Noam Federman, Itamar Ben Gvir and Baruch Marzel, all based in Hebron, are believed to have close links to the outlawed Kach movement, which demands the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the region.

Mr Ben Gvir, who leads a group known as the Jewish National Front, denied that his faction was involved in the attack on Mr Sternhell but refused to condemn it.

Although the head of the Shin Bet, Avi Dichter, immediately branded the attack on Mr Sternhell as “a nationalist terror attack apparently perpetrated by Jews”, it is noticeable that no Israelis are demanding the demolition of the perpetrators’ homes.

That contrasts strongly with the response last week after a Palestinian youth drove a car at a group of Israeli soldiers near the Old City of Jerusalem. Israeli politicians called for the youth’s home to be destroyed and his family to be made homeless.

In the general outcry against the bomb attack last week, it was left to Prof Sternhell to remind Israelis that most Jewish terrorism was in fact directed not at people like himself but at Palestinians.

Hope   November 1st, 2009 6:55 pm ET

Indeed congratulation to cnn. Abu Dhabi being the center of political industrial cultural and commercial activities in the UAE makes all the sense in the world to see it being used a hub. Not to mention its cosmopolitan, rapid urbanization and more westernized than most Arab cities. Cairo Mohammed are you kidding?

miriam   November 2nd, 2009 1:00 pm ET

Anonymous Friend

The cut and paste article written 22 months ago by a notorious anti-Israel journalist has only one thing in common with Abu Dhabi, the attempt to spread malicious hate about the Jewish state with the aim of its delegitimization.CNN can refuse to print and then edit my posts but it doesn't change the facts.

Mohammed   November 2nd, 2009 1:03 pm ET


Egypt is the largest Arab country in terms of population! its political weight in the region is undeniable.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai are expat heaven, where 60% of the working force is totally foreigner, so there is less chance you meet the real people and culture in the area!!!!

what would say to a Japanese who fly all the way from home to Italy but spend most of his day in a Sushi bar????? he is missing a lot
Let me ask you this " who is the target audience for CNN IME?"

which slogan would pick for the show?

1. "IME: from ME to the ME"
2. "IME: from ME to the West"
3. "IME: From western in ME to Western in the West"

I hope i am not too harsh!!!

miriam   November 2nd, 2009 8:47 pm ET

Sorry, the article is 14 months old.

It's okay for some posts on this blog to falsely claim Jewish control over international media but if one tries to state the truth about the real control behind certain media, CNN refuses to print it.

miriam   November 3rd, 2009 7:25 am ET

When will Amanpour or Grant or anyone else interview an Israeli diplomat/member of parliament/government spokesman in the Abu Dhabi studio?

Mohammed   November 3rd, 2009 3:20 pm ET


Don't be upset!

if Aljazeera managed to introduce Israeli politicians to the Arab world, I am sure CNN should be able to do so!!!!

Hope   November 3rd, 2009 6:30 pm ET

Mohammed, I don't know who the target audience for IME is, but I do know it seems to be very limited in reaching out..(One need only confirm its popularity on facebook). I also know cnn's IME is not beamed inside the living rooms in the Western hemisphere part of the world. What a shame, when bridging understanding is so vital now a days.

We live in a modern era of globalization. It is here, and here to stay. And is driven by a combination of market economics, technology, international trade, reconstruction and development, growing businesses, culture, foreign investments, think tank institutions, etc...Not to be disrespectful of Egypt, or it's government that has struggled to prepare the economy for the new millennium, its record on poor human rights, it's overwhelming underprivileged sad citizens that prides on naming (date fruits?!)..Egypt lacks in pace and dynamics. It's glorious Renaissance past is forever gone, over-performed by other Arab nations.

I hope I am not too harsh either!!

usmediatelevisioninc   November 4th, 2009 7:12 am ET

It's really waiting's for the launching movements in every one's heart.
The concept which was driven is very intellectual and it's useful for the people. The New innovation is great help to the nation and also for the growth of the economy....


miriam   November 4th, 2009 12:51 pm ET


You don't seem to understand.

How can CNN interview Israeli officials in the Abu Dhabi studio when they won't be granted visas into the emirate?

It's shameful to open a studio, amid such hype, in a country that refuses diplomatic ties with another country that has for years allowed CNN freedom of press including criticism and analysis of its domestic affairs.

Shame_on_anyone_who_supports_Israel   November 5th, 2009 11:32 pm ET

For 60 years Israel has failed to recognize a Palestinian state for Palestinian people. They have disenfranchised an entire people from their birth place and Miriam cries about Israelis not receiving visas to enter the UAE. Talk about a shallow selfish minded perspective on life. Miriam have you no soul?

Sharon   November 6th, 2009 1:09 am ET

Miriam does the UAE illegally occupy Israel with a brutal army, no they don't.
All countries should boycott Israels brutal apartheid regime. When Palestinians are free to live like humans, then Israel can be welcomed into the world community. But Israel is not welcome until their regime stops treating ordinary Palestinian families as less than human.

Israel should not even be allowed into the Olympics, as Arab Israelis are not properly represented in Israeli sports teams!!

Hunk   November 6th, 2009 7:33 am ET


Let Israel end the occupation and you and every Israeli can visit the whole Arab world.

Israel can accept the Arab Peace Initiative in return for a political and a normal relation with the Third of the UN member state , including the Arab world.

I seen the Billboards in the street of Abu Dhabi, i think now CNN is more close to us.

Mohammed   November 6th, 2009 10:54 am ET


Can we focus on the issue here?

Although I do not agree with Miriam but I think her thought carry some truth in it.
because it much easier to have access to info in Israel(except during Cast Lead operation) , and because the west is more interested in the public opinion of the people of the ME , CNN made a rational choice of picking up Abu Dhabui.
Despite being physically in the area still this is not a guarantee for real and deep reporting from the area. it depends on what topic CNN will cover and how they will cover it, this will determine how the government their will treat CNN.

For those who are just bashing Miriam, just think how it is ridiculous to see Aljazeera able to broadcast from Israel but at the same time can not do the same from many Arab countries, even those who are in peace with Israel.

Arie   November 6th, 2009 11:29 am ET

I find the posts on this blog thread fascinating. However, I'm not so sure, the relevance of the posts to the topic.

I believe it is great that CNN has opened up a branch in the Middle East.

I believe Abu Dhabi has come a long way. They have strived to modernize their country, their education system and workforce.

I also don't believe that choosing Abu-Dhabi as a Mid East Center is in anyway undermining another Arab city, it just goes to show a great potential of an Arab city.

Hong Kong has many westerners, just as Abu Dhabi, and they have managed to do very well, and cover the Asia region thoroughly.

To the other Commentators: Middle East has a long way to go to treat its wounds from injustices, civil wars and political enmities. However, small steps towards the future should be celebrated. Fighting and bickering without offering any alternative solutions, will not solve anything.
The world is progressing rapidly, and the Middle East region can either decide to follow or stay behind.
Therefore, please stop the bickering and if you want to argue about something create a new thread.
Good luck CNN with your new expansion.

miriam   November 6th, 2009 12:12 pm ET

Shame, Sharon and Hunk,

It was the future Jewish state that accepted the UN partition Plan and the Arabs who rejected it.
It was Israel who suffered living along the 1949 Armistice Lines and the Arabs who nevertheless wanted to destroy her.
It was Israel who offered Arafat a state in 2000 but he refused it.
It was Israel who offered Abbas a state in 2008 but he refused it.

Israel is willing to negotiate any peace proposal, but negotiate means give and take, not a situation imposed on a democratic state by non-democratic, theocratic and military dictatorships who refuse to even talk.

Israel has every right to participate in any sport event.
Even the non-state "Palestine" participates.

Arabs represent Israel on the national soccer team aswell as in other sports including boxing and swimming. There are Arabs playing in all sports and the last sports minister was an Arab.

Why did the Arab world want to destroy Israel before 1967? Borders have nothing to do with the Arab world's non-acceptance of the Jewish state. It's just another post 1967 excuse with the Palestinians being used as pawns..

John A   November 7th, 2009 10:50 am ET

Miriam please stop the BS about Arab states trying to destroy Israel in 1967. The Arabs barely put an Army in the field and they were hugely outnumbered by the Israelis. And you know this!!

In 1967 the Arabs placed a minimal military response to the massacres that were happening in Palestine. The massacres carried out by the Jewish Irgun as they terrorized Palestinians with murder and drove them from their homes. The west turned a blind eye to the Jewish terrorists and the Arabs were outraged.

The Arabs have realized that they can not fight against the US backed Israel. So they have taken a leaf out of the Jewish Irgun book and handed back some of the terror that Israel has dished out. In response arrogant Israel retaliates to Palestinian bottle rockets with Americas best weapons.

If America and Britain backed the Nazis, the rest of the world would have resorted to terrorist resistance. And this is what has happened against fascist Israel.

miriam   November 7th, 2009 3:49 pm ET


Thank you!

Filipe   November 7th, 2009 7:02 pm ET


Apparently your of the western hemisphere must be limited to the good old USA--the rest of the western hemisphere-where I live has regular access to CNN's IME as well as Al Jazeera. Must be terrible to live in such a restricted and backwards society-- being fed only what the local government wants you to see !!

No wonder you have such a twisted concept of the world outside sunny California !!!!

Filipe   November 7th, 2009 7:12 pm ET

Shame_on_anyone_who_supports_Israel ,

You said "For 60 years Israel has failed to recognize a Palestinian state for Palestinian people."

You're kidding, right ??? Where did you learn that ???

It was the Arabs of Palestine that refused to accept an independent state in 1948 !!!! Israel had nothing to with that decision !!!!

Disenfranchised ????

It was Jordan and Egypt who invaded and occupied Palestine from 1948 until 1967 !!!!

Who told you such utter nonsense ???-– "For 60 years Israel has failed to recognize a Palestinian state for Palestinian people."

You sound like the incredibly ignorant John A who has conveniently disappeared at the same time your foolish a$$ showed up!

Hope   November 8th, 2009 4:58 pm ET

Filipe, All I meant is..if cnn's IME is aired on US soil, maybe..just maybe a better cultural understanding is developed...And it won't be so mush as ("Us", good people, vs. "Them", bad people).

Why do you feel you have a need to inject poison in everything I write?

miriam   November 9th, 2009 9:30 am ET


I'm not sure you're actually missing much.
The programme is sponsered by Qatar who therefore have influence over the content as do the advertising contracts which include Abu Dhabi, Jordan ,Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey tourism and Arab communications systems.

Most of the stories include the extravagant investment into countries of the gulf, with a splattering of the film industry of the ME. The programme is somewhat different from the times of Hala.

Little coverage is shown of the thousands of Arab residents living in poverty, unless it is in the Palestinian territories or refugee camps, or the opinions of the many who rather than being proud of the regions advances wonder when they will benefit from any of the splendour.

Perhaps world understanding of the region could be enhanced if viewers had the chance to see the real ME and its culture, the ordinary people aswell as Israeli society and culture outside the political sphere.

Filipe   November 9th, 2009 8:59 pm ET


So you're concept of the western hemisphere is not just the good old USA and sunny California???

Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha !!!!!

You don't need my input to "poison" your posts- you do this quite well with no outside assistance.

You see- it's ignorant statements such as that, and numerous others that gives one the impression that you live in your own little self absorbed world, yet feel you know with the utmost accuracy what goes on in the rest of world. It is especially amusing when you -and the infamous John A--start on your diatribes about "world opinion". All I need say about that is-– who's world are you speaking of??? Sort of like your version of the "western hemisphere" -- really meaning the USA !!! Ah ha ha ha ha ha !!!!

On top of that-you feel you have some authority to decide what is correct and incorrect about the way other nations of the world live their lives, establish their laws, create their government and follow their customs. Certainly no one in the world makes these similar demands of the US. Where does this sense of world power and authority originate??

You constantly whine about the situation in the middle east-and then you whine about the fact you don't get the same international news as the rest of the world !!!! So which is it ??? Do you speak from true ignorance of the facts--or do you really get the facts ??

If you rely strictly on US news sources-– you're truly speaking with ignorance on most world subjects. Views seen only through a distorted and perverted lens adjusted to feed the masses in the US the politically correct version of events.

I say this with first hand knowledge as I was educated in the US and lived in NYC and NJ for several years-- so I'm fully aware of the lack of world awareness and that most US citizens have.

Darren   November 10th, 2009 1:56 pm ET

Miriam, Apartheid Israel should be treated in the same way as apartheid South Africa. i.e. boycotted by everyone until there is a regime change.

No more blood in the name of the promised land!!
And no more American tax dollars should be give to Israel!!

miriam   November 11th, 2009 12:24 pm ET


What "regime"?

Israel has democratic elections to vote in a democratic government.
So democratic that the elections are usually called early because the government listens to the people (and the media!)

There is no apartheid.
Arabs sit in goverment, ride all buses in any seat, go to the same beaches, attend mixed schools, play on sports teams and in orchestras etc.

Robert   November 17th, 2009 3:01 pm ET

Filipe by day and Miriam by night. C'est la vie Filipe, its okay to have a double life.

No more American Tax aid to Israel and no more blood in the name of the promised land!

Hunk   November 17th, 2009 5:01 pm ET


Israel started the war of 1967, this FYI, so who wants to destroy the other ? dont give me the same cliche

miriam   November 19th, 2009 7:23 am ET


Arabs sent terrorists across their borders to attack Israel before 1967.

The PLO was created in 1964 with the stated aim to destroy Israel in its charter.

Egyptian and Syrian troops were amassed on their borders with Israel in May 1967.

The same month, Egypt kicked the UN out of SInai and closed the Suez Canal to Israeli shipping.

Filipe   November 19th, 2009 10:46 pm ET


How cute !!!!! Is this all you have to offer on the subject at hand ???

Take your whining and crying and slobbering to your Congress and see if they'll buy what your selling !!!

Good luck with that !!!! You'll need it !!

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