November 26, 2014

Distorting the News of Jerusalem Terror

                                                                                                                  published at Honest Reporting

Inaccurate and distorting one-liners easily can be corrected. After complaints, CNN edited and apologized for both the completely false headline, “Deadly attack on Jerusalem mosque” and the disturbingly misleading, “4 Israelis, Two Palestinians dead in Jerusalem.” 

But, the systemic distortions through which media view Israel are much harder to change.

In a moment of impatience and candor, a BBC reporter interrupted Knesset Member Naftali Bennett’s short interview about the horrific slaughter that morning of Rabbis Moshe Twersky, Avrahm Goldberg, Arye Kopinsky, and Kalman Levine while they were praying in their Jerusalem synagogue: “We don’t want to actually see that picture, if you could take that down.”

BBC preferred not to “actually see” nor show its viewers a terror victim wrapped in tallit and tefillin lying on a blood splattered floor after two Palestinians had stormed the synagogue, shot people point blank, and hacked at them with axes and knives.

We can’t know what was in the reporter’s mind; we do know from analysis of how Israel is often framed in mainstream American and British media that the reporter most likely was trying to get on with the story.

That is, she did not want or need to see Bennett’s photo since the framework for her story was already in place. The story of the Har Nof terror would be about “tensions boiling” in Jerusalem and “revenge.” 

When terrorists murder Israelis, prestigious news outlets often package the terrorism into familiar and fallacious storylines. Readers’ attention is directed away from the actual violence and toward the features of predictable news frames: in this case into the false analogy of a “cycle” of violence and the image of Israel as the region’s “neighborhood bully.” 

In fact, BBC spells out its guiding misinterpretations in a “background” summary: “Synagogue attack: Months of tension and revenge attacks” that among other errors, simply leaves out Hamas’s rocket firing on Israeli civilians as a catalyst for this summer’s war.

In its gallery of photos of the synagogue massacre, Associated Press does not include a single picture of the devastation itself, though many such photographs were available from Israeli news outlets and across social media. By contrast, BBC and AP did not shy away from graphic imagery during the Gaza war. Indeed, they seemed to seek out casualties, replaying scenes from Gaza endlessly.

These storylines are built from distortions. No matter how much support terrorists receive from Palestinian leaders, other countries, and from the specific groups that sponsor the killing, the perpetrators appear as isolated individuals up against the powerful State of Israel.

And bizarrely, the murder of Jews praying in a synagogue or Israelis waiting at a bus stop is equalized with the resulting deaths of terrorists themselves. The CNN headline, 4 Israelis, 2 Palestinians dead…” alludes to this pattern.

Here is the New York Times:  It brought to 11 the number of Israelis — including a baby, a soldier and a border police officer — killed in the past month.

“In the same period, Israeli security forces killed a Palestinian citizen of Israel who had approached their car with a knife, setting off days of rioting; shot dead two drivers who plowed their cars into pedestrians in Jerusalem; and killed a suspect in an attempted assassination… “

The phrase, “in the same time period” suggests that there have been killings on both sides. But the deaths of terrorists – here called “drivers,” -- occurred because they were in the act of murdering people at random. The other altercations are included to bolster the cycle storyline.

Like the BBC, the New York Times makes clear their perspective in their own news analysis that includes this unsupported (and unsupportable) claim: “extremists on both sides seem to be acting increasingly beyond the control of Israeli and Palestinian leaders.” 

The fifth Israeli killed at Har Nof was Police Master Sargent Zidan Saif, a member of the Druze community. He died in a shootout with the terrorists while heroically protecting fellow Israelis. Thousands of Druze and Jewish Israelis attended his funeral.  An interfaith gathering was held outside the Har Nof synagogue complex in which Jewish, Christian and Muslim clerics denounced terror in Jerusalem.

There are many other stories in Israel than the ones we have become used to seeing in the press.

                                                                                                comments welcomed at Honest Reporting

November 17, 2014

The Terrorist is being Treated in the Hospital

                                                                                              photo  by Sebastian Schiener
                                                                                                                   published at Times of Israel

There is something jarring about this sentence in the news. “The terrorist is being treated in [the] hospital.”
Wounded by security personnel too late, the terrorist had already murdered 26-year-old, Dahlia Lemkus, whose neighbors knew her as “the kind, giving, loving young woman” who was studying to be an occupational therapist. He had already stabbed two other people and sent a third into shock.

Islamic Jihad has taken responsibility for this attack. By responsibility it is meant that Islamic Jihad has congratulated itself for supporting and accomplishing the bizarrely un-brave act of jumping out of a car and stabbing random people with a knife.

Meanwhile, Israel mourns Dahlia, and the others killed by Palestinian terrorists this month: on the same day as Dahlia, 20 year-old Almog Shiloni from Modi’in who died after being stabbed in Tel Aviv as he was on his way back to his base; Chief Inspector Jadan Assad, the Druze border patrol officer who was killed by a terrorist ramming his vehicle into people in Jerusalem, and teenager, Shalom Baadani, who had been riding his bicycle and was killed by the same terrorist at another location nearby. The week before, American-Israeli 3-month-old baby, Haya Zissel Braun and 22 year-old Karen Yemima Mosquera from Ecuador were killed by another “car terrorist” at a Jerusalem light rail stop. While all these funerals have been going on and over a hundred Israelis this month have been dealing with injuries from terrorism, “the terrorist is being treated in the hospital.”

And, rightfully so. Because, as in America, perpetrators in Israel who survive their own acts of terror get quality medical treatment and the benefit of Western law.

Fatah and Hamas leaders have stated that stabbing people with knives or running into them with cars is a “natural response.” If this is the case then treating, in an Israeli hospital, someone who has set out to murder any Israelis he happens to see must be an unnatural response.

But both are learned responses.

It does not come naturally to decide to stab passersby with knives or to intentionally run over a baby with a car. Nor is it simply natural to try to treat humanely even those who commit such actions. These are learned behaviors.
At Dahlia’s funeral, her sister, Michal, implored Israelis to go on, emphatically, with every day life.

Treating the terrorist in the hospital; going on with life in Israel; not letting hate take over: some things to stand one’s ground for.

                                                                                                      comments welcomed at Times of Israel

UPDATE:  And now there are four more murders.  Four people killed and others injured while praying in their Jerusalem synagogue

November 05, 2014

Why Fly El Al?

You’re going to Israel anyway. Might as well start the experience of Israel at the check-in line, the gate, the plane ride.

Just don’t plan to go on Friday evening or Saturday. El Al does not fly on Shabbat or on Jewish holiday days. Or serve non-Kosher food. Though it does serve additionally wrapped extra (glatt) Kosher meals and vegetarian options.

Israel’s national, though since 2004, privately owned airline has two slogans: one for the Israeli market and one for everyone else. The Hebrew slogan is הכי בבית בעולם literally, the most at home in the world. El Al translates this as “your home away from home.”  The English language slogan is: “It’s not just an airline; it’s Israel.”

When Jews immigrate to Israel, it is called making aliyah. Going up. But it is also called coming home.

The most “at home” in the world and “it’s Israel” are really the same slogan.

There is something qualitatively different about this plane ride. Is it the greater noise level? Or that people seem to already know each other, or act as if they do, when they get on the plane? Is it that the food is not like airplane food: the salads cold, the entrees hot, and the bread fresh? Perhaps it is the haredim? They’ve had some bad press on El Al lately but more routinely it might be the everyday-ness of a minyan at the back of the plane. Or is it all that standing in the aisles and visiting? Maybe it really is the food.

Or maybe it is the fact that El Al is the world’s safest airline.

So you can relax in a way you haven’t relaxed during all your travel preparations, even though you’re now flying to the Middle East from, for example, Southern California -- 14 ½ hours non-stop from Los Angeles.  

Of course, this safety conflicts with what you’ve been reading in the news because – truth in advertising -- (It’s not just an airline) it’s Israel.