That fear of making Israel look “good.”
There’s been a terror onslaught here in Israel for the last week and a half. Those of us who bother checking foreign media outlets have noticed that there’s relatively little coverage. This is mainly good, since, of course, coverage of Israel’s conflicts with Palestinians and neighbors tends to be quite hostile to Israel.
Still, it raises the question of why interest isn’t greater this time. Those hallowed principles of “If it bleeds, it leads” and “Jews are news” would seem to apply.
True, they don’t apply on the scale of last year’s Gaza war, which drew huge coverage. But that may give a clue as to the explanation.
In that war much larger numbers died than in the current terror onslaught—and given Israel’s superior military capabilities and Hamas’s use of civilians as human shields, they were predominantly on the Palestinian side. A lot of scenes were broadcast from Gaza hospitals. The “text” was: see what the Israelis have done now!
In this current campaign so far, four Israelis have been killed and many more wounded. The number of Palestinians killed is, again, larger—but they were primarily killed by security forces fending off attacks, with few cases of collateral killing of civilians.
Still, a lot of what is happening would seem to be “newsworthy.” Even in Israel, with its long history of aggressions by surrounding populations, terror organizations, and countries, what’s happening has been almost unique.
Along with the usual rock-throwing and gun ambushes, they’ve been lunging at us—on streets and sidewalks, in malls and bus stations—with knives and screwdrivers. These “lone-wolf” attackers aren’t terrorists per se. Many have been teenage boys—or teenage girls, or young women.
They mostly come from the territories—but some also from within Israel—looking for Jews, any Jews, to kill. They’re crazed with hate and not seeking a “two-state” solution and definitely not “peace.” The hate largely takes the form of a religious frenzy—after months of the Islamist organizations and the Palestinian Authority drumming the libelous message into their heads that Israel is scheming to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Even for the media with its anti-Israeli bias, it may hard to finagle these hate-crazed, religiously motivated attacks into its “Israel victimizes Palestinians” frame. It gets even harder when one looks at individual cases.
On October 3, for instance, Aharon Banita, his wife Adele, and their two young children were attacked by a Palestinian stabber in the Old City of Jerusalem. Seeing her husband fatally wounded and having been stabbed herself, The Times of Israel reported that Adele
“…yelled ‘please help me!’ and [the surrounding Palestinian shopkeepers] just spat at me.…”
Banita said Palestinian youths who saw the attack laughed and cursed at her as she yelled for help.
She said that one of them slapped her and another laughed in her face and told her to “drop dead” when she told him she’d give him a million shekels if he helped her get away with her two babies.
“They saw that we were with two baby carriages,” she said.
Are there some Palestinians whom even the “elite” media can’t love?
And on October 7, in the town of Kiryat Gat in southern Israel, there was this incident:
A Palestinian man stabbed an IDF soldier and grabbed his gun…. He then fled to a fourth floor apartment….
The soldier was lightly injured in the attack, with wounds to his head, apparently inflicted with a pair of scissors….
Liat Ohana said she encountered the terrorist in the kitchen of her apartment, and that “he had murder in his eyes.” She said she pushed him into her kitchen, where she heard him rooting around in the cutlery, apparently looking for a knife. The gun he had seized had no magazine.
She and her mother fled, screaming, she said, and later heard gunfire. “I didn’t think I’d get out alive, but I was determined to fight,” Ohana said later. The security forces “shot him in my kitchen,” she told Army Radio.
Liat Ohana, in other words, is a heroine. And there have been other cases of heroism by Israeli civilians, like the ones who pinned down a stabber in a shopping mall on October 7, and the female soldier in Tel Aviv on October 8 who, though stabbed with a screwdriver, fell on her gun and stopped the attacker from getting it.
Heroic Israelis fending off Palestinian killers? Seems “dramatic” and—with Israelis not the only ones under Islamic attack—even inspirational. But it’s not the stuff mainstream-media stories are made of, and only those following Israeli outlets are likely to know about these cases at all.
Of course, to the extent that the media has covered the events, it’s been up to its usual antics. The BBC’s headline for the abovementioned attack involving the Banitas, in which Aharon Banita and another man were killed before security forces killed the attacker, was: “Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two.” HonestReporting gives a spate of similar examples gleaned from a single day.
At this point it’s not yet clear if this terror wave will die down or intensify. If the latter, it can be safely assumed that the Western media will increase its coverage on the side of the assault.
We know that the Palestinian attackers are driven by a systematically inculcated religious and nationalistic rage. What drives the Western media’s dehumanization of Israelis and identification with their killers?