Palestinian lives don’t matter to US media
by Rania Khalek
As Israel ramps up its deadly attacks on Palestinians, mainstream US media outlets are actively concealing the alarming displays of genocidal racism emanating from Israeli Jewish society.
Violence against Palestinians is nothing new. Israel’s ongoing colonial project requires enormous levels of brutality against Palestinians. But this daily reality is only newsworthy when it blows back against Israeli Jews, which has been the case during the last week with a number of violent incidents against Israeli settlers.
Every unsavory act allegedly committed by a Palestinian since the drive-by shooting of an Israeli settler couple last Thursday has garnered major headlines. During the same time period, Israeli settlers and soldiers have terrorized Palestinians across the occupied West Bank in attacks that have injured nearly 1,000 Palestinians, including at least 66 people with live rounds.
Yet these acts of systematic violence have barely registered as an afterthought in establishment press reports, sending a very clear and chilling message. Palestinian lives, it seems, have no value until Israeli Jewish lives are affected.
Meanwhile, incitement to murder by Israeli leaders and Jewish lynch mobs chanting “death to Arabs” were comprehensively omitted from US media coverage, much like they were in the lead up to the burning alive of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudair last year.
“Death to Arabs”
Following a stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City that killed two Israeli settlers last Saturday, hundreds of Jewish extremists paraded through the streets of Jerusalem demanding collective vengeance against Palestinians.
Chanting their hauntingly routine “death to the Arabs” rallying cry, they broke into lynch mobs hunting for Palestinians to attack.
Anti-Palestinian race riots have erupted with increasing regularity in Jerusalem since the lead up to the 51-day assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014 that killed 2,251 people, the majority of them civilians. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “this time it seems that the Jewish mob which took to the streets was accepted by Jerusalemites with understanding, if not downright approval.”
The crowd was made up of extremists from an assortment of far right groups, including activists from Lehava, the anti-miscegenation group that equates mixed Arab-Jewish relationships and assimilation with genocide of the Jewish people. There were also more female participants than usual and they played a key role in riling up the crowds.
“We have to kill them all, including the Arab Druze in the army,” one woman was quoted as saying.
“Where were you at seven in the evening?” another woman shouted at the police. “Go beat up Arabs.”
“Let the people of Israel enter the gates and kill Arabs,” hollered a youth at the police.
Despite their hostility towards the police, the mob attacked their Palestinian targets with relative ease under Israeli police escort throughout the weekend.
On Saturday night Israeli extremists targeted a Palestinian worker with tear gas and attacked a Palestinian driver who struck a pedestrian in his frantic attempt to flee.
At the Jerusalem light rail, extremists asked passengers if they were Arab to determine whether or not to attack them. More disturbing than the mob itself was the lack of concern from bystanders, who “responded apathetically and tried to look the other way,” reported Haaretz.
“There were many drivers who honked in solidarity and vocally supported them. The cafes and restaurants along Jaffa Road were full of people watching the march of hatred passing back and forth.”
In stark contrast to the saturation of headlines about the Palestinian attacks on Israeli soldiers and settlers, just one major US media outlet mentioned the hate fests but only after four Palestinians were stabbed by an Israeli Jew in Dimona following a week of incitement and race riots that went unreported.
How to whitewash a lynching
The race riots continued into early Sunday morning, with a mob of rightwing Jews chasing 19-year-old Fadi Alloun, shouting to Israeli police, “Shoot him! He’s a terrorist! Shoot him!” and “Don’t wait! Shoot him!”
The police obliged, firing several gunshots. Alloun, unarmed and visibly terrified, was executed on the spot and the racist crowd rejoiced in celebration, cheering, “Yes! Yes! Son of a bitch!” and “Wow!” and “He’s an Arab!” and “Death to the Arabs!”
Israeli officials quickly justified the killing by claiming without a shred of proof that Alloun was shot after stabbing a 15-year-old Israeli boy.
Despite publicly available videos showing Alloun being shot in cold blood while posing no threat and despite Israel offering no evidence to corroborate the accusation that he stabbed an Israeli, US media outlets accepted Israel’s version of events as fact.
The New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren and correspondent Isabel Kershner parroted Israeli police claims, reporting that Alloun “stabbed and wounded a 15-year-old Jewish boy on a road outside the Old City.” They went on to whitewash the video footage of Alloun’s killing, describing the lynch mob who hunted him as “Israeli civilians in pursuit,” as if they were good Samaritans tailing a dangerous criminal.
The New York Times published at least ten news stories about the recent spate of violence, yet it wasn’t until the tenth report on 9 October that it found space to report on a “death to Arabs” rally.
The Associated Press followed a similar rubric.
“A Palestinian teenager stabbed and moderately wounded a 15-year-old Israeli early Sunday morning in Jerusalem before being shot dead by an Israeli officer, police said,” was the extent of its coverage of Alloun’s killing.
The article went on to detail several instances of Palestinians allegedly behaving badly toward Israelis by hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at soldiers, though a vague recognition that Palestinians had been injured by Israeli forces was buried towards the end of its report.
In a follow-up report the AP whitewashed a massive gathering of “thousands of Israelis” outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence on Monday night who were “demanding tough action,” according to the AP.
Who were these “thousands of Israelis” and what “tough action” were they demanding? The AP doesn’t say.
According to Haaretz, the protest was organized by the Samaria Settlers’ Committee, a far right group that produced an animated video earlier this year, which employed classical anti-Semitic tropes to incite against left-wing Jews.
In attendance were Israeli cabinet ministers Haim Katz and Yariv Levin, who demanded Netanyahu respond to Palestinian attacks on settlers by building more illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank. Settlement construction, said Levin, will allow Israel “to beat terrorism in the most Jewish way possible.”
“Freezing [settlement] construction encourages the villains,” he told the crowd.
“Burn them in their villages”
Despite the US media’s refusal to report on them, the “death to Arabs” rallies have continued unabated.
On Thursday evening, hundreds of Jewish extremists marched through Jerusalem chanting “death to Arabs” and “burn them in their villages.”
They were reportedly led by extremists affiliated with Lehava and the notoriously fascist Beitar Jerusalem soccer fan club La Familia.
If not for social media and a handful of English-language Israeli media outlets, the existence of these lynch mobs would be virtually unknown.
Palestinians were attacked in Netanya, a city in present-day Israel, the same night by a hate mob chanting “death to Arabs” and “Netanya residents are taking care of the Arabs.”
Lighting the next match
The next lynching of a Palestinian isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.
Even Israel’s security cabinet expressed concerns, predicting that another deadly attack by Jewish extremists similar to the burning of the Dawabsha family over the summertime is likely to occur.
And once again Israeli leaders will have lit the match.
Slamming Netanyahu for being too soft on Palestinians, Israeli justice minister and genocide advocate Ayelet Shaked openly agitated for collective punishment. “We need to do things that will hurt [the Palestinians], so they understand [terrorism] doesn’t pay,” said Shaked.
As “death to Arabs” riots erupt across Jerusalem, Mayor Nir Barkat is imploring Israelis to carry their guns at all times to shoot potential Palestinian “terrorists.”
In the Israeli lexicon the word “terrorist” refers to any Palestinian who resists Israel’s matrix of oppression, including children who throw rocks. Israel’s security cabinet recently made it official by approving the use of live fire against Palestinian rock-throwers.
Therefore urging Israeli civilians to shoot “terrorists” amounts to giving vigilantes license to kill not only Palestinians who attack settlers but also children who throw pebbles or any Palestinian perceived as threatening to Israel’s colonial system.
“Eliminate the enemy”
During a visit to the far right protest outside Netanyahu’s home, Naftali Bennett, Israeli education minister and leader of the ultra-nationalist Habeyit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party, applauded as heroes Israeli settlers who shot alleged Palestinian assailants dead over the last week.
“Against the cowardly Arab terrorism, a wave of Jewish courage is rising to defeat it,” he told the protesters, encouraging them to “eliminate the enemy.”
“For the past 120 years, people are trying to kill the Jews here. The enemy changes, but we remain here, growing and building our land,” said Bennett. “We are the eternal nation, and we are raising our heads. Jewish heroism will defeat the enemy.”
Eli Ben-Dahan, the settler rabbi and deputy defense minister who decreed that Palestinians are “beasts,” called for faster demolitions of the family homes of Palestinian attackers and for the expulsion of their families.
“Demolishing terrorists’ houses and deporting their families is the best deterrent and most efficient way to deal with terrorism by individuals,” Ben-Dahan told an army radio station. He also urged Israelis armed with guns to “be alert and prevent another terrorist attack.”
Yinon Magal, an elected reperestive of Habeyit Hayehudi in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, tweeted and then deleted, “it is important to make an effort so that terrorists who carry out attacks are not left alive.”
He later clarified, “I’m not saying we should take the law into our hands and lynch people.”
He added, “Whoever is trying to kill us should be taken out.”
It remains unclear how this is different from his original tweet.
During a right-wing sit-in protest at the site of a stabbing attack in the Old City, Moti Yogev, a member of the Knesset from Habeyit Hayehudi, was captured on film shouting at an elderly Palestinian woman, “Go to the grave. You will not pass here! Only Jews!”
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears uninterested in provoking a Palestinian uprising at the moment, he is being pushed further to the right by the ultra-nationalist hardliners that dominate his governing coalition.
Not to be outflanked by Naftali Bennett, Netanyahu has declared “a fight to the death against Palestinian terror.”
This incitement has deadly consequences. Israeli soldiers executed six Palestinian protesters and injured another 60 in Gaza for allegedly throwing rocks at the border fence. And on Friday, a Jewish Israeli in Dimona stabbed four Palestinian workers.
The Associated Press, which has avoided covering incitement by Israeli leaders, rushed to report Netanyahu’s condemnation of the attack and then blamed Palestinians for fueling the unrest.
As Israel’s culture of hatred spirals out of control, the media outlets concealing the incitement from top Israeli leaders and the “death to Arabs” riots they help spawn are complicit, again.