Sunday, March 27, 2011

CRISIS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: Anderson Cooper Circa 2006

Kiryat Shmona, Israel, August 3, 2006: Anderson Cooper broadcasts AC360 live from an artillery field. Photo by Yorya Liberman/Getty Images for CNN)

With the current unrest spreading throughout the Middle East, I thought it would be a good time to look back at Mr. Cooper's reporting of the Israeli - Lebanese crisis of 2006.

"A deadly game it is today. The rockets continue to fall. New threats are flying. Civilians are dying on both sides of the border, and a new day is about to dawn -- the Middle East poised on the brink." Anderson Cooper, Friday, July 14, 2006, reporting from Northern Israel.

Anderson wrote two posts for the AC360 Blog that day ~

Israeli woman: Just 'some problems' up north
Our team just landed a few hours ago. When you fly into Tel Aviv, you have to ask passport officials not to stamp your passport with an entry visa. A stamp makes it much more difficult to travel elsewhere in the region. We are planning to go into Lebanon tomorrow, but right now, we're driving north toward the Lebanese border. I'm writing this on my blackberry as we race to the border town of Nahariya. Around 200 rockets have hit northern Israel so far. Nahariya has taken direct hits. During the short time we were in Tel Aviv, things seemed normal. At the airport, several Israelis came up us to say they were annoyed that their relatives had canceled plans to vacation in Israel. "Tell them Tel Aviv is fine," one woman said to me. "It's just up north where there are some problems." "Some problems" is something of an understatement, but it's telling, I think. This is a land used to war, used to struggle. The people here find themselves fighting on two fronts and military reserves have been mobilized, but life goes on. I remember in the mid-90s, when I was in Jerusalem, and a suspicious package had been left at a bus stop. The street was quickly cordoned off. The bomb squad appeared and blew up the package. All the pedestrians on the street applauded, and immediately, life on the street resumed. "What else can you do?" a man said to me. "What else can you do?" Posted By Anderson Cooper: 1:16 PM ET

No ice cream in this Israeli town
Nahariyah is empty. The streets would normally be packed with tourists and residents dining in outdoor cafes or eating ice cream while out for a stroll. But we've seen nary a soul since we arrived here several hours ago. Occasionally, a voice echoes down the deserted streets or man speaks through a loudspeaker telling people to seek the safety of bomb shelters. After a little searching, we were able to find a spot from which we could broadcast tonight's show. We're now driving toward an Israeli artillery battery. We didn't have time to get Israeli-issued ID cards, so we are not sure they will let us videotape anything when we get there, but we'll see. Driving on these mountain roads is an eerie experience. It's pitch dark and the roads are very windy. A Katyusha rocket hit nearby about five minutes ago. It made a loud pop, but we didn't see where it landed. The driver of our SUV stopped on the side of the road, but we decided to just keep going forward. We have flak vests with us, and I have a digital video camera in my lap, but I must admit the rocket's loud pop was startling. It definitely got our attention. Posted By Anderson Cooper: 4:46 PM ET

On Monday, July 17th, Anderson anchored AC360 from Cyprus~

Some posts from the AC360 blog that day - we find out why Anderson was suddenly anchoring from Cyprus.

Cyprus becomes staging ground for evacuees
We just landed in Cyprus. We decided to come here after spending much of the day in Haifa, Israel, literally following Hezbollah rocket attacks. We've come here because this is the staging ground for the evacuation of foreigners trapped in Lebanon. France and Italy already have begun evacuating their people to Cyprus. America is expected to follow soon. There are approximately 25,000 Americans in Lebanon, but no one knows how many want to leave. I'm currently finishing up the story we shot earlier today in Haifa. That piece will be on the program tonight in addition to extensive coverage from our correspondents in Lebanon, Israel, and all across the region. Posted By Anderson Cooper: 6:10 PM ET

Executive Producer David Doss went into further detail, in his blog post.

Not let into Lebanon
Since Anderson and producer Tommy Evans last blogged, the team has been making its way to Cyprus. You may not be aware of some of the specific challenges of traveling in the Middle East. If you have a number of Israeli stamps in your passport, then it is all but certain you won't be allowed into certain Arab countries. (Many reporters request that Israel not stamp their passports to avoid this. Generally, Israel accommodates.) As it happens, Anderson and his team were barred from entering Lebanon over the weekend because -- we are guessing -- we had already been broadcasting from Israel and suspicions about "who is reporting what about whom" tend to arise. At the same time, the story has moved forward to include evacuations -- those trapped in Lebanon who want out. With the Beirut airport bombed-out, direct airlifts are not possible. Thousand of Arabs are streaming into neighboring Syria. That brings me back to, "Why Cyprus for the show tonight?" Cyprus is the Mediterranean island country geographically in the middle of all of this -- a short flight or a 4-hour boat ride from the war zone. Almost overnight, it has become the central staging area for evacuees to get transported out of the region. Anderson will anchor the show from there tonight. Posted By David Doss, "360" Executive Producer: 5:02 PM ET

While they may have ended up in Cyprus for the broadcast, their day began in Hafia, Israel. Here's Anderson's blog post about what he experienced in Hafia ~

Rocket hits with a crushing thud
It's been a busy morning in Haifa. I'm in a van right now, coming back from the scene of a rocket attack. We were actually covering an earlier rocket attack when the sirens went off yet again. We all had to run for cover. It's an odd sensation -- waiting for a rocket to hit. At a certain point, the sirens stop and you hear the impact. A crushing thud. This one was probably a mile or so away. We ran to our van and got to the blast site a few minutes later. The rocket hit a small apartment building in a residential neighborhood. When we arrived, rescuers were removing an elderly lady from the rubble of the apartment building. She seemed stunned and scared. Someone lifted her onto a gurney and she was taken to the hospital. There are casualties on both sides of this conflict, of course. Lebanese authorities say more than 150 Lebanese have been killed, several hundred wounded. How much longer will this go on? That's a question a lot of people here are asking. Sitting here in this van, trying to catch my breath after running to yet another blast site, nothing seems certain. Both sides acknowledge there is likely not a military solution to this conflict, but political solutions seem far off. Israel may find it hard to come up with new Hezbollah targets they can successfully hit in Lebanon, so perhaps the bloodshed will lessen as the week goes on. But as long as Hezbollah is willing and able to lob shells deep into Israel, it is likely the attacks on both sides of the border will continue. Tonight, expect extensive coverage from the region. While I'm in Haifa now, we may head elsewhere for tonight's broadcast. Already, Neil Hallsworth, my cameraman, is digitizing the footage we've shot. We'll start editing the rocket story in a few minutes while driving in the van. That's it for now. I'll try to blog later today, depending on where we end up Posted By Anderson Cooper: 11:03 AM ET

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 ~

Anderson anchored again from Cyprus and filed the following blog post about his experiences that day ~

U.S. response exasperating for some Americans
We spent the day in Cyprus tracking the latest efforts to get Americans out of Lebanon. The U.S. government says it has evacuated more than 100 Americans, but their efforts are clearly lagging behind those of other countries. The French and Italians have gotten hundreds of their citizens out. Some of the Americans who have made it out are clearly exasperated with the U.S. response. You see them checking into Larnaca's beachfront hotels tired, frustrated, and a little stunned at what they've been through. I just finished interviewing one American woman with three young children. The kids were bouncing on the bed of their hotel room, oblivious to the nightmare they just escaped. Their mother was lucky. She was able to get a spot on a Marine Corps chopper and has a ticket back to New York in a few hours. "I don't know how they are going to get all those people out," she told me. The United States has a number of ships en route and chopper flights will continue, but getting people out means crossing a logistical minefield. Another ship may arrive with more evacuees tonight while we are on the air, but it's hard to predict exact arrival times. We will bring you the latest tonight on the evacuations. We'll also check-in with CNN correspondents for the latest news from Lebanon, Israel, Syria and the rest of the region. As for tomorrow, there's no telling where we will be. This is a fast-moving story and we are trying to bring it to you from as many angles as possible. I'm curious to hear your perspective. Do you think what Israel is doing is legitimate? Should the United States push for a ceasefire? Or is the Bush administration's current approach appropriate? Posted By Anderson Cooper: 5:40 PM ET

AC360 was live from Larnaca, Cyprus on Wednesday, July 19th ~

"Reporting from this region, it's not like working anywhere else. It's a pressure cooker, one photographer said to me. It just never lets up. You hear the rockets land before you actually see them. In Israel sirens give you some warning, of course. But often, it's not enough....We've all seen the pictures, but they don't capture fully what it's really like, the smoke in the air, the adrenaline racing through your veins, the fear, the pain that deepens into resolve....After a while, it all threatens to become routine. You have to fight against that, though. Sometimes you see all that's around you. Sometimes you just want to close your eyes." Anderson Cooper

The following Reporter's Notebook ended the broadcast (click on image to enlarge) ~


From Cyprus to Beirut...Anderson's trip week on ATA.

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ACAnderFan said...

Great post. I had almost forgotten about Anderson's coverage in Israel. I liked reading his blog posts again. Its too bad he doesn't blog any more. I always liked reading his insight on whatever he was reporting on. He needs to write more he's a good writer and has a gift for it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the ppsting of Anderson's writings and the Reporter's Notebook. Anderson did a great job covering the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war. However, I do not want him to go to Libya because of the extra danger for foreign journalists.

From the serious to the silly: Is Anderson watching Celebrity Apprentice? Although he doesn't like Trump, he's a fan of Nene, who's on the show this season. I like to imagine him watching with a big bowl of popcorn, jeering at Trump and whatever that is on the top of Trump's head while also cheering on Nene and her team.


Anonymous said...

Anderson did a great job in the ME back in '06 and was even praised for his call out on the Hezbollah staged emergency. And I agree with Jaanza I don't want him going to Libya or any other country over there this time, it's too dangerous for any journalist or any foreigner over there.

Broadway Bound Bunny said...

OT the play How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying made its debut on Broadway this past weekend(AC is the narrator) and I'm afraid it didn't get great reviews, AC faired a bit better than most of the cast. The review is in the NYTimes today.

Anonymous said...

@anon 5:46 - the Hezbollah fake emergency you mentioned, that's the reason I started following AC360. I was in Israel during the summer of 2006, so I didn't watch CNN's coverage of the events. Actually, I just saw it for the first time (thanks ATA team!). I heard about the Hezbollah story later from another Israeli-American friend, who was here and watched it, so I checked it on youtube. So strange to see the full coverage now, interesting to get the perspective of an American correspondent.
I agree that I wouldn't want AC to go to Libya now, or Syria (if the Syrians allow it) - just too dangerous. I'm afraid Israel is about to be back in the news, not something specific I know, just an inner feeling of an experienced Israeli:( . If it does, Israel is relatively safe for reporters, whatever that's worth... As AC mentioned, in Tel Aviv you strangely enough don't even feel it, and it's only an hour drive from Haifa. In fact, Israelis often blame Tel-Avivians for not caring, living in their own bubble of clubs, shopping and fine restaurants... As a native Tel-Avivi I have to say it's not true, but that's another story. Sarah.

Broadway Bound Bunny said...

One thing I remember about '06 fieldwork was seeing all the beautiful buildings being destroyed - I often wonder if they were ever rebuilt or what happened. It would be great to get some type of follow up on it.

Anonymous said...

I remember being in Lebanon back in the Summer of 2006 when the war broke out. I remember watching Anderson Cooper 360ยบ from Lebanon and watching it when we evacuated to Syria, and even when I returned home to Texas. His coverage from Lebanon, Cyprus, and Israel was outstanding. It was during that war that I discovered All Things Anderson and to this day have always been keeping up with this blog. Keep up the awesome work here and on All Things CNN! I just hope that when Anderson begins his talk show this Fall, that he will still get to go out into the field and report.