How we talk about terror matters
Everyone grieves differently; naturally. Not surprisingly, families of the victims of terror are often alienated from each other by their varied ways of grappling with their tragedies.
But one particular approach to loss has become, I hesitate to brand it thus, trendy among the general public.
Increasingly, the media – whether social or mainstream – spotlights the parents of murdered children who emphasize the “silver lining” message. By that I mean the positives that their loss has provided them.
It might be the not-for-profit that they have founded in their child’s memory. Or the new outlook on life they’ve embraced in the wake of their tragedy. Or the overwhelming support and love of their relatives and friends they’ve received. Or the conviction that the heavenly goodness in their child’s murder exists but simply evades our limited comprehension.
Those are topics deemed acceptable and publishable.
But anger, doubt, confusion or the desire for justice and the imprisonment of the murderers are not. They have become taboo emotions nowadays.
This sentiment is reminiscent of the one that reigned in Israel after Holocaust survivors settled here. The society those victims joined clearly signaled to them – and sometimes even told them explicitly – that mentioning their horrific experiences and unfathomable grief was not welcome.
Another spreading trend is to deny terrorist acts the label “terrorism”. More and more global news services refer to them as “events in a cycle of violence” or “responses to the occupation” and so on. It is a phenomenon that both enrages the murdered victims’ families and encourages fresh terrorism.
Recently, the global news source CNN crossed a red line in its reporting on the April 7, 2023 Jordan Valley shooting attack that resulted in the murder of the Dee family’s wife/mother and two daughters. As reported by CAMERA on April 11, 2023, two CNN correspondents described that terror act with language never before used in that context.
Frederik Pleitgen said:
“But earlier in the West Bank, there was a shooting incident where a car received a bullet shot, or gunshots, with the family in it. It was a mother and her two daughters, and the two daughters were killed in that crash.”
CNN’s Isa Soares adopted the same wording.
Both journalists later reported the shooting of a Palestinian youth, aged 16, by Israeli forces during a military operation. The ages of the Dee daughters were never cited by Soares or Pleitgen, although one was 15 years old.
I shudder to imagine how they would have recounted the Sbarro bombing of August, 2001 which took our angel Malki from us forever. Perhaps
“The Sbarro pizzeria in central Jerusalem received a 10 kg explosive from which 15 men, women and children took shrapnel and died.“
For some reason, nobody among Israel’s journalists or politicians chose to weigh in on CNN’s terrorism denial other than Israel National News which merely reprinted CAMERA’s report.
This conduct sets a dangerous precedent that cries out for our protests.
Yet Israel’s silence shouldn’t surprise us. My husband and I have encountered the same indifference in our quest for justice for our Malki.
Her self confessed murderer, Ahlam Tamimi, sentenced in Israel to sixteen life terms, enjoys utter safety and freedom in Jordan. She is protected by its autocrat, King Abdullah II, who has, since 2013 ignored US demands for her extradition under a treaty signed and ratified in 1995 by his father, King Hussein.
The fact that Tamimi has engaged in public incitement to terrorism from widely-viewed TV and social media platforms does not interest Israel. Consecutive governments have nurtured their intimate friendship with Jordan since her release in the Shalit “Deal” of 2011.
Meanwhile Israeli journalists – even so called “right wing” and religious ones – have ignored our pleas for their coverage of this travesty of justice.
Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Day of Remembrance, is an appropriate time to call attention to the current status of terrorism and its victims. We are on a slippery slope toward rampant terrorism denial. That will increasingly threaten Israel’s security.
Israel’s leaders, politicians and journalists must take a stand. Call out those – like CNN – who report about the terror attacks as “car crashes”. Stop rewarding those – like Jordan – who shield fugitive terrorists and reject treaty-based demands for extradition.
The consequences of continued silence could be grave.