Alison Weir, a California journalist and activist who chronicles the bias in U.S. media coverage of Middle East events, bestirred many Americans–”perhaps many thousands–”in early October with a powerful, chilling Internet account of the largely unreported murder of a Palestinian mother of 11 children by Israeli soldiers in Gaza.
Itemad Ismail Abu Mo’ammar was fatally shot while trying to rescue her deaf husband from a severe beating by Israeli soldiers, who were furious because he did not answer their questions.
“Foolishly or valiantly, how is one to say, the 35-year-old woman interfered. She tried to explain that her husband was deaf and couldn’t hear their questions. Then she attempted to stop them from hitting him. So they shot her. Several times. She didn’t die, though. That took longer, because the soldiers refused to allow an ambulance to transport her to a physician. Finally, after approximately five hours, one was permitted to take her to a hospital where physicians were able to render one service: pronounce her dead. Why did this all happen? The family lived behind the residence of a resistance fighter wanted by Israel. The death of Itemad was simply ‘collateral damage’ in a failed Israeli assassination-kidnapping operation.”
Weir searched major U.S. media–”broadcast and print–”from coast to coast, and found Itemad’s death reported in only three newspapers, a single-sentence notice in each. One of the three, The Washington Post, reported inaccurately that the woman was killed by an Israeli tank round. After exchanging messages with Weir, the Post cleared for publication her letter that explained that multiple bullets, fired close up–”not a tank round–”were the cause of death. But the Post reneged. The letter was not published. Why? Weir’s explanation: “After all, these were only Palestinians, and it was just another mother dead.”
Ponder the “why” of the shooting. Although the distraught woman struggled to get the armed soldiers to stop beating her deaf husband, she surely posed no physical threat to them. Even if they did not understand what she said, she was, at worst, an inconvenience, hardly deserving to be shot.
Now consider the “why” of the aftermath. Were the hearts of the Israeli squad so hardened that they could not act with compassion as the husband and children watched helplessly through unavailing tears as the woman bled to death? Why did they want her dead?
This Gaza atrocity is not an isolated aberration. Israeli brutality is commonplace, and so is American silence in response. What transformed the soldiers, their military superiors, as well as the civilian leaders of the Israeli government into callous brutes? Is the whole Israeli governmental system so corrupted with anti-Arab passion that mercy for a dying mother is nowhere to be found?
Other questions beg answers. Will the killers be punished or even rebuked? Will messages of regret, consolation, and–”yes–”compensation be sent to the survivors? Sadly, I know from the wells of memory the answer to these two questions is no.
Such messages should come from Washington, not just from Israel, as the guns and bullets used in the killing were almost certainly gifts of the U.S. government. Will the U.S. ambassador deliver messages to the aggrieved, as well as a threatening protest to Israeli officials, demanding an end to the brutal treatment of innocent people? Here again, the answer is no.
Why the cover-up in major U.S. media? The awful circumstances of Itemad’s death were not reported, because major media are afraid–”yes, afraid–”to feature Israeli criminal behavior. Israel’s influence is suffocating. Imagine the intense, sustained coverage that would have dominated major media if the roles in Gaza had been reversed, with a dying Israeli woman denied medical service for hours by Palestinians who had shot her at close range for no good reason.
U.S. media are generally brave, except where Israel is concerned. So are members of Congress. So is the presidency. And the rest of us? Almost everyone is afraid to criticize Israel, no matter how barbaric its behavior.
U.S. silence in the face of an Israeli atrocity is a green light to more crime. If we look at our own hands, we may find a trace of Itemad’s blood right there in plain sight.
Reprinted with permission from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA)