Making terrorists pay —unless they’re Palestinian Arabs

A terrorist attack was scrubbed clean at JTA. The attempted murderer was called a "man" and the firebomb attack at an IDF jeep in which he tried to burn Jewish soldiers to death termed a "clash."

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Att'y Stephen M. Flatow,

Stephen Flatow
Stephen Flatow
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Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

The headline was enough to alarm anyone who has a heart: “Israel’s Army Wants a Dead Palestinian Man’s Family to Pay for the Jeep That Crushed Him,” the Jewish Telegraphic Agency announced last week.

Those cruel Israelis!  Here an Israeli army jeep goes and “crushes” an apparently innocent “Palestinian man,” and the Israelis have the nerve to demand a pound of flesh from his family, too. The cruelty! The chutzpah!  It’s enough to make you want to sell your Israel Bonds.

Until that, is, you get to the third paragraph of the JTA article. Then you discover that there’s more to the story than the headline indicated. A lot more.

The headline told us only that he was a “Palestinian Man.” Not a terrorist. Not an attacker. “Palestinian Man” clearly suggests that he was an innocent Palestinian civilian.

But way down in the third paragraph, we discover that a Palestinian Arab terrorist named Abdullah Ghneimat, age 22, threw a firebomb at an Israeli jeep. To put it another way, Ghneimat attempted to burn some Jews to death.

So, the JTA’s headline should have read “Palestinian Terrorist.” Or “Palestinian Firebomber.” Or “Palestinian Attacker.” In other words, language that would have accurately described what he was doing. That one little word changes the entire story. Ghneimat was not the victim. He was the aggressor. He was an attempted murderer.

After throwing the firebomb, Ghneimat ran. The Israeli Army jeep pursued him. During the chase, the jeep “flipped over a wall,” according the article. Meaning that the Israeli soldiers were almost killed. Fortunately, the hand of justice intervened. The would-be murderer was killed instead of his intended victims.

Now comes the chutzpah—and it’s not Israeli chutzpah. The firebomber’s family sued the army! Well, why not? No doubt they’ve read about plenty of frivolous lawsuits in which the families of rock-throwers and bomb-throwers end up with large settlements, because the Israeli authorities are afraid of International criticism, or just don’t want to be tied up in court for years.

In this case, however, the Army seems to have responded by counter-suing the terrorist’s family, demanding that it pay for the $28,000 damages that their son caused to the jeep.

That makes perfect sense. In every civilized legal system, if someone damages another person’s property, then the attacker—or the attacker’s estate, if he’s deceased—is liable to pay compensation.

In fact, I would take it a step further. The dead terrorist’s estate, or his legally liable relatives, should also be compelled to pay for any medical treatment that the Israeli soldiers in the jeep retired. Whatever injuries they suffered were due directly to the terrorist’s actions.

I wish this could all be attributed to a careless headline-writer at the JTA. But it’s not. The opening sentence of correspondent Ron Kampeas’s article reads: “Israel’s army is reportedly suing the family and village of a Palestinian man to pay for the jeep that crushed him during clashes.” So, the headline accurately reflected the article’s pro-Palestinian slant.

And a word about that term “clashes.” That’s standard language among journalists who cannot bring themselves to write of Palestinians as aggressors. A “clash” sounds as if both sides were equally guilty. The term disguises the nature of what happened. We all know what happens in these so-called “clashes,” because it has happened in thousands and thousands of instances over the years. Israeli soldiers don’t go around looking for people with whom to “clash.” Palestinian mobs hurling deadly rocks and firebombs attack Israeli soldiers. The soldiers then defend themselves and try to arrest the would-be murderers. That’s not a “clash.” That’s Palestinian aggression and Israeli self-defense.

Call me naive, but I expect better from a veteran correspondent for a Jewish news agency. I’m not saying that I expect him to take Israel’s side. Heaven forbid! I only expect him to be a responsible journalist.

Knowingly transforming a Palestinian terrorist into an innocent Palestinian civilian who was crushed to death by brutal Israelis, is not responsible journalism. It’s advocacy. And that has no place in news reporting.






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