Oftentimes what is barely mentioned – if at all – by the world’s media is (or ought to be) as thought-provoking as what the talking heads focus on with undisguised relish.
The fetching face of three-months-old Chaya Zissel Braun, for example, was missing from front pages around the globe and it was never featured on any foreign TV news outlets. She was murdered (as was 22-year-old student Karen Yemima Mosquera) last week by an Arab terrorist who homicidally rammed his vehicle into a crowd of passengers waiting at a light rail stop. But to observers abroad this amounted to dog bites man.
Uninteresting. Been there. Heard that before. Jewish whines. Who cares?
Newsroom groupthink doesn’t only trickle down to conformist reporters on the scene who quickly figure out what the chiefs want to hear and what they shouldn’t be bothered with. The signals from atop the journalistic hierarchy also determine for news-consumers what constitutes news and what does not.
Media linchpins put together the current-events agenda and they shape mass awareness. Perforce they dictate public opinion. What doesn’t pass through their selective filter will forever remain esoteric knowledge – even in these days of social networking on the World Wide Web.
The cruel fate of little Zissel – whose name means Sweetie in Yiddish and who hadn’t yet cut her first tooth – won’t be discussed by most Facebook users and or by Twitter addicts. Nothing will make Zissel a cause célèbre in the Land of the Free, not even her American citizenship.
The abduction and coldblooded execution of another American citizen, teenage schoolboy Naftali Fraenkel, equally failed to elicit extraordinary sympathy in the Home of the Brave.
Is it only gruesome beheadings that grab attention in our desensitized existence? But if that were so, why was there no significant international revulsion when the heroes of Palestinian figurehead Mahmoud Abbas nearly decapitated three-months-old Hadas Fogel in 2011, after butchering her parents and her two brothers?
Like Zissel’s, Hadas’s image too was never splashed on front pages or featured in TV reports overseas. She and her family perished in a horrific bloodbath but were only briefly alluded to as faceless “Israeli settlers.”
The implication was almost that they received their comeuppance, because the moniker of “settler” had become ruthlessly derogatory in reference to Israelis. Settlers, even a three-months-old, invite disaster and presumably shouldn’t be lamented by politically correct humanists.
Yet the postmortem cold-shoulder crosses the Green Line. European foreign ministries and American State Department spokespersons reserve minimal lip-service and token obligatory expressions of displeasure when any Jewish tots are intentionally slaughtered.
It’s not only Zissel and Hadas.
Another three-months-old was Shmuel Taubenfeld, an American tourist. He came to Jerusalem with his parents and sister from New Square, New York, on the occasion of a family wedding. The Taubenfelds were on Egged bus No.2 on their way back from the Western Wall, when a suicide-bomber pushed the button.
Infant Shmuel and his mother were among the 23 fatal casualties, seven of them children. He wasn’t the only baby killed in that particular incident. So was Shmuel Zarguri, 11-months-old. The world’s smug diplomats, news purveyors, voluble academics and the chattering classes weren’t outraged.
Many other Israeli babies in their prams and strollers were murdered by suicide-bombers.
Sinai Keinan was a year-old when she and her grandmother were targeted at a Petach Tikva ice cream kiosk in 2002. The CNN ignored their bereaved kin but accorded air time to a lengthy soft-soap interview with the proud mother of the perpetrator of the horror.
Holier-than-thou Swedes devoted a museum display to celebrate Hanadi Jaradat, who blew herself up next to year-old Noya Zer-Aviv’s baby buggy at Haifa’s Maxim Restaurant in October 2003. Twenty-one lives were cut short. Noya died with her four-year-old brother, parents and grandmother – all of Kibbutz Yagur.
And it’s not just the macabre fascination with suicide that skewed international attitudes. Five-months-old Yehuda Shoham was killed when stones were hurled in 2001 at the car in which he was riding. One-year-old Yonatan Palmer met his end in a comparable fashion, together with his father Asher, in a 2011 stoning episode. Their murders went unreported abroad.
Are stones too pedestrian to generate interest? Nine-months-old Shalhevet Pass was shot by an expert marksman who aimed directly for her temple and callously pulled the trigger in 2001. Two years later, 7-months-old Shaked Avraham was taken down in a hail of bullets fired into a private home.
There was no uproar in the capitals of the civilized world, in its campuses, newsrooms or TV studios.
In most cases no one even mentioned the atrocities that claimed the lives of Israeli babies. It’s as if they never were and the international community’s opinion-molders weren’t overly concerned with the fact that they are no more.
The above-named babies – and they are just a very few of many more Israeli infants sentenced to an untimely death by Arab terror-mongers – failed to tug at the heartstrings of the family of nations.
Contrast this with the media maelstrom that greets Arab children’s deaths – those deaths, of course, that can be blamed on the Jewish state.
Who can forget the three-ring circus that surrounded the supposed shooting by Israeli soldiers of Muhammad a-Dura in 2000? This has since been conclusively proven to have been a spurious accusation, probably altogether staged. But the calumny still holds fast.
While the three Israeli boys kidnapped and murdered on the way back from school last June were almost instantly put out of the world’s mind, the face of Mohammed abu-Khdeir remains indelibly imprinted even though he was slain by a disturbed individual who was apprehended and who is thoroughly reviled by Israelis rather than lionized.
However, in Palestinian domains the murderers of all aforementioned Israeli babies are elevated to the rank of role-models and national heroes. This isn’t only a Hamas predilection. Abbas’s schools, mosques and media passionately idolize these infant-slayers.
No youngster can grow in Abbas-controlled bailiwicks without being brainwashed by abiding visceral hate for the Jews. Day after day Abbas’s juvenile charges hear that Jews are subhuman pollutants, descendants of pigs and monkeys, evil infidels and assassins of prophets. No Palestinian child can emerge from such relentless indoctrination imbued with a pluralist worldview, live-and-let-live liberality and values of tolerance.
There is no way to absolve Abbas of out-and-out incitement of the crudest but the most enduring kind. Indeed, self-proclaimed moderate Abbas has just told his people that the very presence of Jews contaminates Jerusalem and its holy places. For added emphasis he furthermore generically referred to all Jews with the pejorative of “settlers” and broadmindedly labeled them as “herds of cattle.”
Condemnation of this racist slur was missing from the podiums of international forums and world media outlets just as was a heartfelt reaction to Zissel’s murder.
Clearly, the world’ conscience – if it may be called that – tilts to one side.
The stashing of rockets at Gazan schools, hospitals and residential neighborhoods – and the deployment of this weaponry therefrom – rattled no one much in other lands. When foreign correspondents disclosed first-hand evidence last August of what they saw, filmed and photographed of Gaza’s Hamas arsenals and launching pads, their material was largely downplayed by their own bosses.
It’s a no-no to debunk the canard that Israel fires at noncombatants with out-of-the-blue malevolence – for sadistic amusement perhaps. Medieval anti-Jewish infanticide hysteria and blood libels are recycled in 21st century packaging.
It’s not cool for foreign commentators and politicians to concede that Israel did what it had to – and much less than it could have done or that any other country in the same predicament would have done. It’s not cool to concede that Israel merely strove to prevent many more deadly attacks like the one that felled Daniel Tragerman of Kibbutz Nahal Oz (inside Israel proper). The four-year-old non-settler was killed inside his home last August 22 by a mortar shell fired from a Gazan UN school compound.
But his story is not told abroad. Daniel’s photos aren’t reprinted or screened and his tragedy isn’t accorded resonance. Why? We can only conjecture.
The single indisputable fact is that Daniel and all the other slain Jewish tots were deprived of the opportunity to live out their natural lifespan only because they were Jewish. That was their sole sin. Even that of tiny Zissel – too young to sin but not too young to die as a sinful Jew.
Despite Zissel’s tragically fleeting sojourn on this earth, some dark foreign hearts exhibit varying degrees of unuttered apathy to her lot, as if some vague stigma disqualifies her for compassion.
Perhaps this is why there was total silence everywhere about the demonstrative visit by Abbas’s hand-picked “premier,” Rami Hamdallah, to the gravesite of Zissel’s murderer – Abdelrahman al-Shaludi – where effusive homage was paid the baby-killer. No squawk was raised anywhere about the fact that Abbas’s Fatah movement officially exalted al-Shaludi as a “heroic martyr.”
Abbas’s foreign fans will continue to fawn over him. US Secretary of State John Kerry just recently thanked Abbas for his “perseverance and partnership.” The preachy press worldwide never questioned this.
Reality isn’t ever allowed to get in the way of realpolitik interests. Facts must not interfere with prejudices.
Bottom line, Abbas can do no wrong. Israel can do no right.
Years ago an Arab writer I debated at an international gathering declared unabashedly that he “doesn’t care about dead Jewish children because their deaths were earned by the villainy of their parents.”
Nothing quite so indecorous is likely to be repeated in polite postmodern society either in Europe or in America, but perhaps unacknowledged atavistic stirrings of similar sentiments surface above the sanctimonious saturation.