The network apparently views the utter destruction of the city, including the Second Temple – a historic event of great significance to all three Abrahamic religions – as just not as important to the story of Jerusalem as…Cleopatra.
Part two of the network’s six-part series on Jerusalem – which claims to focus on “a half-dozen critical moments in the city’s evolution” – covers the era of Herod the Great. Approximately fifteen-and-a-half minutes of the episode is spent on Cleopatra and Mark Antony. The destruction of the Temple is given just over two-minutes. Put another way, CNN – in a series on Jerusalem – spent almost as much time (one-and-a-half minutes) on Cleopatra and Mark Antony’s respective suicides – which occurred in Egypt and had little if anything to do with Jerusalem – as it did on the destruction of the Second Temple and much of the city of Jerusalem itself.
To put into context just how little importance CNN attached to the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, here is the entirety with which CNN discusses the events:
“(Simon Sebag Montefiore) And [the Romans] ruled it through brutal procurators who were extremely corrupt, and who gradually tormented the Jews into rebellion. And to punish the Jewish people, they destroyed Jerusalem entirely in 70 A.D. The Temple was destroyed. All that’s left of it are the stones of the southeastern and western walls that you can see today.
(Robert Cargill) So all that Herod had worked for – the things that he wanted most, this physical legacy – vanished. Any time Jerusalem has someone come along, who wants everything to himself, for some reason, Jerusalem says ‘that’s not the way the City of God is going to be.’ And that’s because, as history has shown us, the times when Jerusalem is at peace is when this city is shared by its people.
(Simon Sebag Montefiore) The Jews emerge differently from the destruction of the Temple in 70. Instead of praying at the Temple in Jerusalem, they became not linked to a Temple, but in fact linked to the Torah. The Christians, then a small Jewish sect, escaped from the siege, to become a separate religion, separating for the first time from the mother religion of Judaism. And six centuries later, Islam. Mohammed, when he preached his new last revelation of Islam, he argued that the destruction of the Temple marked the withdrawal by G-d of the special blessing bestowed on the Jewish people, giving room for Islam. So in many ways, out of Herod’s Temple and its destruction, came the world we know today.”
Even in the brief couple of minutes it devotes to the event, CNN manages to spend most of it with: (1) a bizarre lecture about “sharing” (without it being clear who Herod was not sharing the city with); (2) a false statement that tries to disconnect Jews from their holiest site in Jerusalem (see below); and (3) making the destruction of the Jewish Temple about Christians and Muslims.
Why would CNN create such a history which glosses over such a seminal event in the history of the very subject, Jerusalem?
An answer seems to emerge when viewed in the context of the pattern of omissions that characterize the series: CNN wants to downplay the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.