The “Alleged” Murder of Three Teens

The Wall Street Journal still has a reputation as a credible news source with a tradition of adherence to the facts, so it was with some trepidation that I slid my Wall Street Journal from its plastic sleeve this morning, hoping and praying that the editors at The Journal had not buried the story of three brutally murdered teens on page 17 or 26. They didn’t. THE JOURNAL BURIED THE STORY OF THREE BRUTALLY MURDERED TEENS ON PAGE 1…FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE.

The Wall Street Journal headline read: “Israel Vows ‘Hamas Will Pay’ for the ‘Alleged’ Murder of Teens.” (emphasis added).

I was utterly perplexed. Before 2 p.m. yesterday, I heard the news of the brutal death of these boys. What did The Wall Street Journal mean when it used the term “alleged murder” the following day?

By paragraph 5 of the story The Journal seemed to resolve any question as to their status, matter-of-factly reporting an Israeli Army spokesman’s information that “the bodies…were found by soldiers and civilian volunteers buried in a rock pile in a field in Hebron…”

It would have dishonored the memory of these three boys not inquire about the headline, so I called The Journal.

The contact number on The Wall Street Journal website took me to a lovely woman in the Philippines who dealt with subscriptions. When I told her about my problem with the word “alleged” in the Page 1 headline, she “allegedly” transferred me to a the newsroom. I was actually placed in contact with a perky customer service rep who cheerfully advised me that “the word ‘alleged’ means that people aren’t sure that something took place“. Thank you very much. Even if I didn’t have an undergraduate degree in journalism I could have Googled the word “alleged.” Realizing her definition did not suffice, she tried to send me back to the subscription rep in the Philippines. When I protested she told me in a hushed tone that she would give me a “direct” newsroom line: 1-888-410-2667.

I called the “news department” and left the allowed two minute message, asking what was “alleged” about murder of three boys who had been shot in a car, transferred to a second car so that the first vehicle could be burned, and bound and partially buried in an open field? These boys were clearly not in cahoots with the driver of the vehicle. I could not think of any explanation other than murder.

Just one day earlier, scores of individuals felt a stab in the heart and a blow to the gut upon hearing the worst case scenario possible, and they hoped against hope that it would prove to be an unconfirmed rumor. People around the world keeled over in pain and prayed for a reprieve, but this morning there was no such hope. Evil was confirmed; our job on Day Two is to recognize true evil and answer it (not necessarily with revenge, but with action.) The Wall Street Journal headline was not intended to hold out hope for the boys. The Journal’s Page 1 headline effectively denied and snuffed out the memory of these boys. Their cruel deaths were unconfirmed, questionable…. With that headline, The Journal misused its Fourth Estate power and privilege.

Significantly, the related Journal story, written by Joshua Mitnick, omits any reference to an interview given to Israel’s Channel 10 the previous Sunday by the mother of Abu Aysha, one of the alleged abductor/murderers, in which she denied her son’s involvement, but added: “If he truly did it–I’d be proud of him to my final day.” A reporter colors a story not only by what he or she chooses to include, but also but what he or she omits.

The Journal did report in the final paragraph of the article that “the discovery of the bodies has spurred fear of retaliation by pro-settler Jewish vigilantes, who have been involved in a campaign of ‘price-tag’ vengeance against Palestinians“. Nowhere in this paragraph is there any attribution for this claim, nor does the word “alleged” appear in this paragraph. These “facts” are reported, plain and simple, as the unvarnished truth… in an article about the “alleged” murder of three teens.

For those who want to express their concern with today’s Wall Street Journal headline or the related article you can call 1-888-410-2667 or e-mail

And if you find out what the word “alleged” means, please let me know.



About the Author
Sheryl Elias is a mediator and arbitrator. She has coordinated various Israel-related student initiatives.
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