NEW YORK (Aug. 2)
Jews in cyberspace are storming over the Cable News Network’s weather forecast for Jerusalem. Jews are forwarding e-mails and filling up online message boards with criticism of CNN’s interactive division, which includes the company’s Web site, for removing Jerusalem from the Israel category on its weather page.
One respondent to America Online’s Jewish Community message board calls CNN “Arabist in their views and agenda.”
On CNN’s weather site for the Middle East, Jerusalem stands alone, beneath no country, while other Israeli cities are listed underneath the Israel category.
CNN Interactive, which made the move in February, denies it is taking sides in the Middle East conflict, and says it’s part of a networkwide decision not to refer to Jerusalem as a part of Israel.
“Jerusalem is a city that is under dispute, and this is something we don’t want to be considered taking sides on,” said Scott Woelfel, president and editor-in-chief of CNN Interactive. He said the decision was made after examining how other organizations, including the United Nations, refer to Jerusalem.
Israel captured eastern Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War, but the United Nations has not recognized Israeli sovereignty over the eastern part of the city.
More recently, Jerusalem was cited as the main sticking point in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and the reason for the failure of the Camp David summit.
“We had a sense the decision might be controversial,” said Woelfel. “What we’re trying to do is not take a side and not appear to be biased one way or another.
The online weather sites of The Weather Channel and MSNBC both refer to Jerusalem as part of Israel.
Many people learned about the action after an e-mail campaign encouraged readers to contact CNN through their online feedback address.