By Emily Gian
It was the morning after International Women’s Day when I awoke with thoughts of penning an inspired piece about Israeli women and their influence on all aspects of Israeli society. As I drafted the piece in my head, I scrolled through the news on my social media feeds, only to find that there had been four separate terrorist attacks in Israel, with one person being murdered and another fourteen injured.
The deadliest attack occurred in Jaffa where 29-year-old American tourist, Taylor Force was murdered and another ten injured, including his wife. The terrorist was stopped when an Israeli playing his guitar on the beach started hitting him with the guitar and managed to chase him down until the police arrived.
Two attacks, an attempted stabbing and a shooting attack in Jerusalem, saw two border policemen seriously injured.
In another attack in Petach Tikvah ultra-Orthodox man Yonatan Azarihab, was stabbed repeatedly on his upper body before he managed to remove the knife from his own neck and stab the terrorist, who subsequently died from his wounds. Yonatan is recovering in hospital.
All of this, while US Vice President Joe Biden met with former President Shimon Peres just a few kilometres away from the Jaffa attack at the Peres Centre for Peace.
I always thought that the Palestinian terrorists would behave themselves when important visitors come, but then rockets flew in when President Obama visited back in 2013 and when Ban Ki Moon and Hillary Clinton visited in 2012. There are times when murderous terrorists simply cannot help themselves.
Now before someone interjects and says that the attackers are “lone wolves”, Hamas spokesman Hussam Badran lauded the attacks as “heroic” and called on different Palestinian factions to join the “struggle of the Palestinian youths who choose to go and carry out attacks at the heart of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem”.
Meanwhile, in a press conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Vice President Biden strongly condemned the attacks and seemed to take a swipe at PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for his failure to condemn the attacks.
He said, “Let me say in no uncertain terms: the United States of America condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts. This cannot become an accepted modus operandi. This cannot be viewed by civilized leaders as an appropriate way in which to behave even if it appears to inure to the benefit of one side or the other. It’s just not tolerable in the 21st century. They’re targeting innocent civilians, mothers, pregnant women, teenagers, grandfathers, American citizens. There can be no justification for this hateful violence, and the United States stands firmly behind Israel’s right to defend itself as we are defending ourselves at this moment as well.
Later, when Biden met with Abbas, the latter still could not bring himself to speak out against the terrorist, but rather just expressed his condolences for the murdered American citizen.
But Palestinian terror, Mr. Abbas, does not discriminate. Not only was an American graduate student and Army vet murdered, but Mohammed Wari, a Muslim resident of Neve Tzedek was also injured in the attack. From his hospital bed he said, “This is unrelated to the fact that I am an Arab, but the terrorists and their supporters don’t discriminate between Jews, Muslims, and Christians, or Americans and Russian. They only want to kill. Terror has no color, race, or religion. Terror is an illness that needs to be stopped. Terror has a clear goal: to kill and destroy the world and the coexistence, in which we live.”
If only Mr. Abbas understood. Or the media for that matter.
For more than six months, many of us have been bemused by the horribly twisted headlines that inevitably follow any attack in Israel where the Palestinian terrorist not only becomes the main event but also, the victim.
Our friends at Honest Reporting have done a good job compiling a list of some of the worst offenders from this day of terror including “Israel: Three Palestinians shot dead as US President Joe Biden arrives for talks” from the International Business Times, and “Three Palestinians shot dead by Israeli security forces in separate incidents” from New Zealand TV’s One News. Then of course, there are the news sources who simply cannot bring themselves to mention the attacker such as the Irish Times with the headline “American dies after 10 stabbed by lone Tel Aviv attacker” and the BBC’s “One killed and several wounded in attacks on Israelis”.
Two of these headlines have since been changed for more accuracy but my tip to those who write the headlines and to the journalists filing the stories – please make an effort to get it right the first time.
The Australian press, surprisingly was much better. The Age carried a story online “Palestinian stabs 1- people killing one in Tel Aviv” while the ABC went with “Palestinian stabs 1- people, killing US tourist, near Jaffa Port in Israel”. Mind you, if you look at the hyperlink of the article, it originally also said “US tourist dead, 9 stabbed in Tel Aviv boardwalk attack”, because it would have been difficult for Mid East Correspondent Sophie McNeill to report that a Palestinian terrorist could be responsible for a stabbing. McNeil could not help herself though, reporting that the Jerusalem shooting attack occurred in “Occupied East Jerusalem”. SBS carried the headline “US tourist dies in Tel Aviv stabbing”, with a balanced story but the dreaded “scorecard” at the bottom, as if to provide some “context” to the situation.
I have lamented a number of times before about having the feeling that I am writing the same story over and over. But I will not stop, until the story itself stops. And I urge you, members of the Australian Zionist Community not to stop either. If you see a headline or an article that is inaccurate, speak up, and try to right the wrong. Otherwise we really will be destined to write the same story until the very end.
Emily Gian is the Director of Media & Advocacy at the Zionist Federation of Australia.