The terrorist kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16, a dual Israeli-American citizen has led to some problematic reporting. Here, we roundup some of the worst cases so far.
Dehumanizing Israeli Teens
The Guardian’s initial coverage succeeded in dehumanizing the three Israeli teens:
According to The Guardian:
Israeli security forces have launched a mass search of the Hebron hills after three teenage settlers, one believed to be a US citizen, were reported missing amid fears they may gave been kidnapped by a Palestinian group.
In The Guardian’s worldview, far better to portray Yifrach, Shaar and Frenkel as “settlers” and political actors rather than Israeli kids trying to get home from class. This emphasis excuses the actions of Palestinian terrorists and attempts to ‘understand’ why they should wish to carry out a kidnapping, which now becomes the fault of the victims rather than the terrorists.
A later report included the following, which HonestReporting, after contacting The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont, was able to get amended:
As pointed out to Beaumont, the three teenagers did not live in “settlements in the southern West Bank.” Both Yifrach who hails from Elad near Petah Tikva, and Frenkel who lives inNof Ayalon near Modi’in, do not live in settlements. Shaar lives in the settlement of Talmon, which is not, however, located in the southern area of the West Bank.
The inaccurate line has now been removed.
It’s All About the Settlements
CNN, meanwhile, felt it necessary to add the following closing paragraphs in order to (unnecessarily) stress the centrality of settlements in the story:
The deployment of military assets to search for the teens, and the swift presumption of kidnapping, are a reflection of the tensions that exist between Jewish settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank.
The expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank has been a lasting point of contention in the region.
It has altered the map of the Palestinian territories, making it more difficult to draw a contiguous Palestinian state as part of any peace agreement, according to critics.
The highly contentious issue of Israeli construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians seek for a future state, has hurt peace efforts.
Sky News made sure to stress the “illegality” of the entire area of Gush Etzion:
The trio, one of whom is understood to be a US citizen, are students at a Yeshiva, or religious school, in Gush Etzion, a Jewish settlement bloc in the West Bank, deemed illegal under international law.
A correct assessment of the status of Gush Etzion would have stated that this is but one interpretation of international law and certainly not one accepted by Israel.
Why Were They Hitchhiking?
The Christian Science Monitor takes an altogether different angle on the story and asks “Why were kidnapped Israeli teens hitchhiking in the West Bank?”
No one is questioning why they were hitchhiking late at night on a highway frequented by many Palestinians.
Shouldn’t the CSM be questioning the morality of kidnapping rather than focusing on hitchhiking? Not if you read this paragraph from the article:
With Israel’s track record of releasing Palestinian prisoners for kidnapped soldiers, such as the swap of 1,027 prisoners for Sgt. Gilad Shalit in 2011, many Palestinians advocate the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers or civilians asbargaining chips for justice.
“Bargaining chips for justice”?! There is no justice in swapping Palestinian terrorists held in Israeli jails for kidnapped Israelis coming home from school.