News this week in Israel included the death of two Arab journalists, in different locations, under different circumstances, and unrelated. But the circumstances, accusations, and double standards are glaring and need to be discussed.
This week, three months after Palestinian Arab-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh was killed in Jenin, following a lengthy investigation, Israel has affirmed that she was likely killed by an Israeli bullet.
Other than her unfortunate death, the problem with this is that before the blood had dried, before she had been buried, and before any facts other than her death were confirmed, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and much world media immediately blamed Israel without any proof. That the PA rushed her burial and would not provide the bullet that killed her for forensics, underscored that they had something to hide, and that blaming Israel was just a convenient way to milk her death as a Palestinian Arab “martyr.”
Israel did not deny it may have been an Israeli bullet that killed her, but did not acknowledge specific responsibility because facts were not known. After a lengthy and credible investigation, Israel has indicated she was likely shot by an Israeli soldier, inadvertently, in the heat of a battle with Palestinian Arab terrorists in which Abu-Aklah was in the middle.
It’s never good to have to admit responsibility for such a thing, but as a democracy where the rule of law is the rule, at least Israel maintains the integrity to do so. In its statement about Abu-Akleh’s death, the IDF acknowledged, “There is a high possibility that Shireen was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire that was fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen, during an exchange of fire in which life-risking, widespread and indiscriminate shots were fired toward IDF soldiers.”
Like many journalists trying to cover a story, or be in a place to get the best scoop, many put their lives at risk. In the case of Abu-Aklah, it seems that not only did she put herself in harm’s way, but that she was there, camped out, waiting for violence to begin as if she had been tipped off to do so.
The other news item about the death of an Arab journalist in Israel this week is about Arab-Israeli journalist Nadal Ijbaria, who covered violent crime in Israel’s Arab community which has become an epidemic. Ijbaria was shot in his car after leaving a local mosque. Police are investigating. One hopes that they will find and arrest the perpetrators as one step to stem and then eliminate the Arab-on-Arab violence that’s been increasing for years, plaguing Israel in general and its Arab community specifically.
According to UNESCO, 55 journalists were killed internationally in 2021, and more than 60 journalists have been killed already in 2022.
Journalists are civilians and of course should never be harmed, and certainly not targeted. But there are risks in general, with an added element by operating and embedding themselves among terrorists who use and hide behind them as cover. Surely Israel did not target Abu-Aklah on purpose, or specifically because she was a journalist. Claims of this being a targeted assassination are absurd.
So why is it that the death of Al Jazeera’s Abu-Aklah has been reported more than any other journalist in the world all year, still making news, and the death of another Arab-Israeli reporter barely gone reported? The answer is simple: there’s a double standard with Israel being blamed even before facts are known, and that’s acceptable even in the media. While those reporting these allegations are not putting themselves in danger on the front line as Abu-Aklah did, they certainly do kill their own credibility in the unsubstantiated blaming of Israel for killing Arabs.
When it comes to the killing of an Arab-Israeli reporter by other Arabs, that’s not reported at all outside Israel, despite the fact that there is a plague of Arab-on-Arab deaths in Israel, accounting for more than the total number of journalists killed this year internationally. It’s a deep problem in Israeli society and Israel needs to take charge and do much more to clean up the streets and illegal weapons in its Arab community. But it’s not reported widely because Arabs killing Arabs is not only not news, it’s acceptable to the media. And it’s not something that can be blamed on Jews.