A Palestinian-American teenager, Tawfic Abde Jabbar, was killed in the West Bank on January 19, allegedly after an altercation with armed Israelis. More on his death, and how it was differently reported in its English and Arabic language versions, can be found here: “A Tale of Two Narratives: English-Language & Arabic-Language Reports Differ on Palestinian-American Teen’s Death,” by Chaim Lax, HonestReporting, January 25, 2024:
On Friday January 19, 2024, a Palestinian-American teenager, Tawfic Abdel Jabbar, was killed in the West Bank, allegedly following an altercation with armed Israelis.
The Israeli inquiry into this matter is still ongoing.
However, an investigation by the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) has found that the narrative surrounding the circumstances of Abdel Jabbar’s death in the English-speaking media is very different from that being put forward in several Arabic-language reports.
In various English-language reports by such media outlets as The Washington Post, The New York Times, the BBC, Reuters, the Associated Press, and others, Tawfic Abdel Jabbar is portrayed as a quintessential American teen who moved to the West Bank in order to improve his Arabic and to gain a deeper connection to the area where his Palestinian family is from….
In the English-language reports on his death, Tawfic Abdel Jabbar was presented as a regular American teenager, who loved playing sports like basketball, was interested in cars, and was looking forward to going to college. He was in the West Bank in order to improve his Arabic and build a deeper connection to the place from which his parents had emigrated. All perfectly acceptable, even admirable. Not the kind of boy, we are made to believe, to get into trouble with the Israelis.
While the circumstances surrounding his death are unclear, most reports have Tawfic Abdel Jabbar being shot to death by an Israeli settler and IDF soldier while out with friends (depending on the report, he was either having a picnic, attending a barbeque or simply driving around).
Although some reports do carry the Israeli claim that the shooting occurred within the context of a reported rock-throwing incident by Palestinians against Israeli vehicles travelling on the main highway that bisects the West Bank, most of these reports only include this information as tangential or include Abdel Jabbar’s father’s rebuff that his son was not throwing rocks and even if he was, “So what? If they were throwing rocks 150 meters to the street, what is it going to do to a tank? Or to a jeep? Or to a car full of soldiers? You’re gonna shoot the car 10 times because a guy threw a rock?”
Apparently Abdel Jabbar was, along with his friends, throwing rocks at Israeli targets from a moving vehicle.
Abdel Jabbar’s father dismisses the rock-throwing, claiming his son was not involved and even if he was those rocks could do no harm. But dozens of Israelis have over the years been killed by rocks thrown by Palestinians in the West Bank. Some have smashed the heads of drivers, or broken windshields whose splinters of glass hit drivers’ faces. In other rock-throwing incidents, Israeli drivers swerved to avoid the rocks, lost control of the vehicle, and crashed. Abdel Jabbar’s father surely knows just how deadly those rocks can be.
In the London-based Al-Araby Al Jadeed, it’s reported that on the fateful night of Tawfic Abdel Jabbar’s death, he “was participating with boys and young men in throwing stones at the occupation vehicles…”
In that same article, Abdel Jabbar’s father is quoted as saying that “I was keen throughout their lives to consolidate [sic] the danger of the occupation in my son’s mind, and the necessity of resisting it.”
My, my. The father, who in the English-language media denies his son was throwing rocks at Israelis, while also claiming in the alternative that even if he had done so, such rock-throwing was harmless — “if he did, so what?” — apparently has a history of teaching his fun-loving son from childhood on about the necessity of “resisting” the Israeli “occupation.” He was surely told by his son’s fellow rock-throwers about Tawfic’s brave deed, and his “martyrdom” at the hands of the diabolical Israelis.
Similarly, his mother is quoted, “Since our return, Tawfic had been telling me that he loved the town and did not want to return to the United States, and he was always talking about martyrdom, but I thought he was joking with me.”
His talk about “martyrdom” was no joke. He was already contemplating becoming a “martyr” himself — that is, one who dies while engaged in jihad against the Infidels.
From his mother’s description further on, it appears that Tawfic regularly joined local youths in throwing rocks at passing Israeli vehicles.
Tawfic, that innocent all-American boy, went out regularly with his pals to try to hit Israeli vehicles and drivers. And what fun if they managed to seriously wound an Israeli driver, either by hitting him with a rock or by causing him to crash.
The Palestinian news outlet Ultra Palestine also reported that Tawfic Abdel Jabbar was engaged in rock-throwing when he was shot and killed….
Isn’t that dispositive? The Palestinians themselves admit — proudly, of course, in the Arabic-language version — that Tawfic was out throwing rocks when he was shot. The Palestinians are proud of him for that. But in the English-language version meant for the mainstream media, they either downplayed, or failed to mention altogether, his rock-throwing, so as to maintain the fiction of the innocent boy shot down by the murderous Israelis.
This we know: Tawfic Abdel Jabbar was presented to an English-language audience as a happy-go-lucky American kid. But we learn in the Arabic-language reports that his father had taught him to “resist” the “occupation” by all possible means, and his mother remembered his speaking about martyrdom. We know that he was shot while engaged in the rock-throwing that can potentially be deadly for Israeli drivers — a fact that has been deliberately left out of the English-language reports. What we need to know is the nature of the altercation between Abdel Jabbar and the two Israelis, an IDF soldier and a settler, who confronted him as he was hurling those deadly rocks. Was he refusing to comply with their cease-and-desist order, and the only way to stop him was to shoot, or did he meekly comply, and the Israelis, in a rage, shot him nonetheless? The IDF, we know, will conduct a thorough investigation and we will find out more about what kind of danger Tawfic Abdel Jabbar posed when he was shot. Meanwhile, we have two versions of the death of Abdel Jabbar and unusually, it is the Arabic-language version that is the more truthful.