Living here in Yehudah/Shomron encourages a certain gallows humor in response to the absurdity of the international perception of our little corner of paradise. For example, a month ago, after reading yet another topsy-turvy pontification proffered by The New York Times displaying its misperception of reality, I joked with a friend about writing a column with the headline “Settler’s Windshield Assaults Palestinian Rock.”
Well, it seems The Times caught wind of my joke and was inspired to write an article printed in Friday’s edition of Hamodia which tells a similar story.
News articles work along a pretty obvious logic: Grab the reader in the headline; give an overview of the story in the first paragraph; front load the article with the information that supports your viewpoint. The Times headline reads, “Israel: Palestinian is Killed at Army Base” (by no means the most offensive headline for this story, as we will see later) and the article unravels its misleading thread slowly. The opening clause, “Israeli soldiers on Thursday fatally shot a Palestinian man,” a sentence unto itself, is meant to focus the reader from the get-go on the murderous thugs of the Israel Defense Force and a presumably innocent Palestinian. The story continues bringing context to how the Palestinian happened to come to the army base by telling the reader that he “drove a construction vehicle into an army base near Ramallah in the West Bank. A hardworking man, killed at a work site mishap, perhaps? Well, not exactly. It seems the man, Yunis Radeideh, 30, of Jerusalem, hit the gas on the bulldozer, thereby “barging through a gate and repeatedly trying to run over a soldier,” according to The Times.
The Times article, really no more than an extended paragraph, closes by revealing that several times in the past, Palestinians used construction vehicles to commit acts of terror, killing three Israelis. An attack which occurred in March 2009 bears special mention. The Palestinian terrorist drove an earthmover and managed to flip over an Israeli police car, wounding two police officers before he was shot and killed. The driver in that terrorist attack was Marei al-Radeideh, the brother of Yunis, the driver killed at the army base on Thursday.
The Times reporting was an example of “last-first” reporting defined as when the presentation of the facts is inverted, and is thereby misleading, and was not the only major news source to report this attack in this fashion. As is generally the case, the BBC was also guilty of anti-Israel bias in its reporting. The BBC’s article focused on the damage to the army base stating that the driver attacked the army base by barging, ramming, and breaking without mentioning that there was a soldier who was attacked and injured by the terrorist. The BBC also erroneously reported that there were no Israeli injuries. In fairness, the BBC did mention that “military doctors” treated the driver of the construction vehicle, who later succumbed to his wounds. There was no identification of these doctors as “Israeli,” shading the article further, in this case by the omission of a favorable description of Israel or the Israel Defense Force.
One did not have to venture to foreign continents or foreign correspondents to find biased reporting of the incident. Not to be outdone, Haaretz, Israel’s version of The New York Times in its decidedly left-skewed presentation of the news, treated the story far more outrageously than The Times or the BBC did. Its headline, “Soldiers gun down Palestinian after rams into West Bank base with bulldozer,” sounds more like an assassination than an act of self-defense. The body of its article in contrast was far more in-depth than the information in the other papers, making it clear that the Palestinian driver was engaged in an act of terror and that the soldiers who fired upon him acted appropriately.
Offering a counter-balancing article to an inflammatory headline was not enough for Haaretz. Unmasking its true agenda, it subsequently printed an article focusing on its interview with the terrorist’s uncle. “Just like in the last time with his brother Mi’ri [the terrorist construction vehicle
driver from March 2009], they are trying to frame him and accuse as of a terrorist attack,” Younis’ uncle told Haaretz. The uncle speculated that Younis took a wrong turn, entered the army base by mistake with no intention of hurting anyone, and was malevolently gunned down. By publishing this as Haaretz did, it seems Younis and his brother Mi’ri were innocent family men who were, at worst, very bad drivers.
The story of an Arab terrorist attacking an Israeli base is not a “man bites dog story” rather it is the common story of “dog bites man.” The shoddy journalism of The New York Times, BBC, and Haaretz that passed for “fair” coverage of this attack shows the rabid nature of the media and how it bares its fangs against Israel.
Meir Solomon is a writer, analyst and commentator living in Alon Shvut, Israel, with his wife and two children. He can be contacted at msolomon@Hamodia.com