Latest home demolition of slain Palestinian, Omar Abu Leila's family home in Salfit

Palestine and News Bias

By Robert Fantina/

Can someone explain why Palestinian deaths at the hands of illegal Israeli settlers and IDF terrorists is not news? If a Palestinian dares to attack an Israeli, despite the fact that Palestinians, like all occupied people, have an international right to resist the occupation in whatever way possible, it is screamed across the world as an act of unprovoked terrorism. A quick online search sees reports of Palestinian deaths at the hands of Israelis reported by Aljazeera, the Guardian, the Middle East Monitor and the Electronic Intifada, but precious little from CNN, FOX or MSNBC. Yet those three ‘news’ outlets are quick to point out any act of aggression by Palestinians.

Occasionally, some crime by an Israeli is so shocking that it does get some minor coverage. In 2015, a 21-year-old Jewish settler, Amiram Ben-Uliel and an unnamed teenage accomplice, murdered three members of the Dawabsheh family, burning alive Ali, the 18-month old son and killing both parents. His 5-year-old brother, Ahmed, spent a year in the hospital as a result of his burns. As of this writing, the perpetrators are not incarcerated and have not been sentenced. The known perpetrators of this horrific crime are free to remain living in their comfortable homes. Palestinians accused of crimes against Israelis immediately have their homes bulldozed, long before any trial is held.

In August of that same year, what was left of the Dawabsheh house was stormed by IDF soldiers under pretext of investigating the crime. Whatever ‘clues’ were found is unknown, but the soldiers were able to steal some of the family’s possessions.

The atrocities against the Dawabsheh family didn’t end there. When compensation from the government was sought for Ahmed, it was refused. “On 3 May 2017 Israel refused to pay compensation to Ahmed and the Dawabsheh family. Yousef Jabareen MK had demanded that Israel’s Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, recognise the Dawabsheh family as victims of a terrorist act and therefore entitled to compensation. In a statement, Jabareen stressed that, ‘If we were talking about Jewish settlers hurt by Palestinians, the victims would automatically receive compensation.’ Lieberman responded with an official letter to Jabareen stating that compensation would not be paid.”

The indignities continued. During the trial of the perpetrators, Hussein Dawabsheh, Ali and Ahmed’s grandfather, who attended the trial, was subjected to unspeakable cruelty by some spectators. Some youths were heard shouting:  “Ali was burned, where is Ali? Ali is on the grill,” referring to the burning death of the 18-month-old baby. They also referred to Ahmed, the surviving son: “It’s too bad Ahmed didn’t burn as well.”

In May of 2018, illegal settlers threw a Molotov cocktail into the home of one of Hussein Dawabsheh’s relatives. The resulting fire was extinguished before the house was destroyed.

In March of 2016, Palestinian Abdul Fatah al-Sharif was lying wounded and motionless on the ground when a 19-year-old Israeli soldier/terrorist walked up to him and shot him in the head. This crime was caught on camera. The terrorist, Elor Azaria, became a national hero in Israel, and was sentenced to eighteen months in prison, a sentence that was reduced to fourteen, but he was released after only nine. Some Palestinian children are sentenced to four years in prison just for throwing stones at Israeli tanks.

These are just two examples; thousands of Palestinians have been killed by illegal settlers and IDF soldiers. And the killing continues.

The writer will ask: how much of this information has the reader seen elsewhere? Did FOX News’ Sean Hannity, his face contorted in righteous indignation, condemn Israeli savagery because of these events? Did Rachel Maddow of MSNBC peer into the camera, her voice shaking, as she spoke of an 18-month-old child being intentionally burned to death? Or did the reader perhaps see this news screamed across the top of page one of the New York Times?

Somehow, those news outlets gave these stories short shrift, if they reported them at all. But unlike other world events, they quickly faded from view, displaced by sports news, celebrity gossip or the political antics of U.S. officials. There was little or no follow-up; the bare information was, perhaps, given some notice, but the trials, the cruel taunting, the fact that these were terrorist actions and extra-judicial executions, and therefore crimes against humanity, were never pursued by the media. Note, however, how other stories keep repeating, in one form or another, but atrocities against Palestinians, crimes against humanity committed by Israel, are a mere blip on the news page.

There are, here and there, small glimmers of hope on an otherwise dismal horizon. Today, CNN reported on Israeli soldiers shooting a Palestinian teenager who was handcuffed and blindfolded. CNN reports that Israeli authorities say that the ‘incident’ is ‘under investigation’, which is always Israel’s response when its soldiers or settlers commit crimes against Palestinians. And the outcome of such investigations always exonerate the perpetrator.

Another hopeful sign is that among the multitudinous people seeking the U.S. Democratic presidential nomination, at least two (Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke) have actually called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a racist. While one stops far short of accusing the Messrs. Sanders and O’Rourke of suddenly developing a conscience, one can say that they have recognized the political expediency of condemning Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians: the two major U.S. political parties no longer walk lock-step in their undying support for the Zionist entity. Just a year ago, such behaviour by CNN and any prominent Democrat would have been unheard of.

If U.S. President Donald Trump can be kept from turning over all of Palestine to Israel for the next two years, it’s possible that some substantive change in U.S. policy will occur. This writer isn’t so naïve as to think any of the potential Democratic presidents will demonstrate statesmanship to such a degree as to adhere to international law, and demand that all its allies support human rights. But the winds of change are blowing; it’s just unfortunate that, as they do, nothing changes for the suffering Palestinians.