To The TOI Editor: Reporting Yesterday’s Stabbing

To Editor of The Times of Israel,

I do hope that you will publish this in the name of freedom of expression and open debate.

Last night 21-year-old Tuvia Yanai Weissman was killed after being stabbed in the neck in a Rami Levi supermarket in the Sha’ar Binyamin industrial zone.

In an article written in The Times of Israel entitled “Soldier killed, another man wounded in West Bank stabbing” published shortly after the victim had been pronounced dead, TOI journalists detailed how the attack unfolded.

Scarcely had enough time elapsed for Weissman’s blood to be cleaned up off the supermarket floor before the article concluded thus:

The supermarket is located in an industrial zone frequented by Israeli settlers as well as Palestinians. Several attacks have taken place there in recent months.”

On the face of it, this may seem like relatively innocuous reporting. By any world media standards however, this excerpt is up there with the most conspicuous manipulations and insensitivity to the human tragedy of this latest terror episode. In any other case, it could be reasonably described as anti-Israel.

It could be so because it contains an implicit, albeit reserved, explanation for the terrorists’ heinous crimes. It could be so because it implies that the terrorists did not kill Israelis or Jews indiscriminately but rather they deliberately targeted those in a supermarket “frequented by Israeli settlers.”

Are we to deduce from this that it is the “settlers” that are causing them to do this and therefore the strategic attack perpetrated by these astute 14-year-old boys was politically calculated and restricted to a “settlers only policy?”

If this had been in any other international newspaper, the message would be clear: However monstrous the crime, let the reader not forget that this was carried out in a supermarket “frequented by settlers.” In case the reader is thinking that these terrorists simply wanted to kill Israelis, think again. Don’t forget that the obstructive and evil settlement factor is the major cause of this warped phenomenon of young boys stabbing humans in the throat.

Furthermore, if this kind of language was employed by any other international news outlet, a letter of complaint to the editor would be warranted. We would correctly interpret such language for what it is: a conclusion that Israel has brought this on itself and that stabbing someone in the throat can be attributed, even if not excused, to the “settlements.”

We need not look much further than the following extracts from a Reuters and BBC report respectively of the attack to illustrate the point:

“Tensions have been fueled by factors including …the growth of Jewish settlements on land Palestinians seek for an independent state.

It happened at an Israeli-controlled industrial zone market near Ramallah used by settlers and Palestinians.

The choice of language here is no accident.

To be sure, The Times of Israel is a comprehensive and informative online newspaper and I enjoy both reading it and blogging on it. However, it was shocking to discover that this specific point in the article resembled features which one may expect to find in the Guardian, the BBC or a catalogue of other newspapers seeking to assign responsibility for such inhumane acts to “Israeli settlers.”

I do hope, that The Times of Israel will not repeat this kind of journalism, of which we have more than enough.

About the Author
Alexander Apfel holds a BA and MA in Modern History. He is an IDF reservist in the armored corps.