While he was sleeping…
14 November 2013
By Gabsy Debinski
We went to sleep last night with the sad knowledge that an 18-year old Israeli soldier, Eden Atias, had been stabbed by a Palestinian youth while he slept on a bus stopped at Afula’s central bus station. Atias was on his way home to Nazareth Ilit having only enlisted in the army two weeks ago. He was still in basic training.
I awoke this morning to a text from my sister sharing the tragic news that Atias had succumbed to his injuries in hospital and died.
Instinctively, I jumped on the web to glean any information on the tragic event. I didn’t intend to write about it, having prepared other issues to discuss in light of what has been a very trying week for the Israeli government. However, the media’s shameful response to this act of terror compelled me to pursue it further.
I struggled to find any reaction in the Australian media. Neither The Australian
nor The Age had included a mere comment on the murder. Not to mention the Herald Sun, but then again it has been an overwhelming 24-hours with the resignation of Kevin Rudd from politics and all.
In the age of the 24-hour news cycle, where news is produced and dispersed as events themselves unravel, there is no excuse and no oversight. The media’s failure to cover this murder was a premeditated editorial decision from above- and it shames us all.
Perhaps the reason Atias’ murder flew so tragically under the news radar is because it undermines the ‘anti-settlement campaign’ that has been driving the international media with increased velocity over the past week or so.
The Australian didn’t cover it at all. Rather it continued to promote an article from yesterday (13/11) online titled ‘Israeli-Palestinian peace process sours over settlements bid’; a typical AFP rehash (Unfortunately the article is behind a pay wall, but you get the gist below). It furthered the naive view that the Palestinian negotiating team is walking away from the negotiating table due to Israel’s authorization of 20,000 new settlement homes.
The following excerpt is taken directly from the article:
“The Palestinians had already warned that they regarded no peace deal as better than one that allowed Israel to press on with settlement expansion.”
“Mr Erakat said that if Israel did not relent on its settlement drive, the Palestinians would also resume their applications for state membership of international bodies, ending a moratorium they agreed to in July under US pressure.”
Equally appalling is The Age’s seeming ignorance. Over the past week it has run a vicious campaign on settlement expansion as the ‘precursor’ to collapsing Middle East negotiations. It also reused the AFP beat-up yesterday, with the title ‘Middle East peace process nears collapse’ splashed across its pages.
It says; “Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP on Tuesday Mr Abbas had tasked him with passing on his ultimatum to the Arab League and the quartet of Middle East peacemakers – the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States.”
Continuing; “The negotiations were already in deep trouble after just three months of meetings in the face of previous Israeli settlement expansion moves.”
In my state of dismay I ventured to the international press to see how the story played out. Sky News, BBC and CNN had buried it entirely, with the latter’s Middle East section headed by an article titled ‘Palestinian negotiating team resigns’ – alluding to the ‘illegal’ expansion of settlements as the reason the Palestinian negotiating team had abandoned peace talks.
This is all while Prime Minister Netanyahu rebuffed the construction stating “it creates an unnecessary confrontation with the international community at a time when we are making an effort to persuade elements of the international community to reach a better deal with Iran.” You can see his comment here.
The New York Times’ coverage was most disappointing. While it made fleeting reference to the attack in an article titled ‘Killing of Israeli soldier further clouds peace process’, three lines in it was clear that this was merely a ploy to discredit the “peace process that was already severely strained by Israeli settlement plans in the West Bank.”
“Infuriated by news of long-term planning for more settlement housing, the Palestinian leadership is expected to meet on Thursday to discuss the future of the American-backed negotiations, which began this summer and were supposed to continue for nine months.”
This is neither relevant nor nuanced. It is the usual jab that has become the convenient ‘fall-back’ for criticism of Israel when all else fails.
I am yet to decide which approach is worse; neglect or distortion? I guess this is where the saying ‘the lesser of two evils comes into play…’
The Times of Israel, Y-Net, Yisrael Hayom and other Israeli media have already gone through the motions of first reporting on the attack, then announcing the soldier’s death in hospital and thirdly, covering the funeral which took place on Wednesday evening. This is all before the story has gained any sort of traction on our shores.
Sadly, Eden Atias will not get the attention or the consideration that he deserves. This is a stain on the Australian media and shows that it cannot be a reliable, impartial source for what’s going on in the Middle East. The global media’s failure to cover the event is shameful. It dishonours the memory of a young soldier whose biggest fault was falling asleep as he travelled on a bus.